- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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It takes a lot of people, both out front and behind the scenes, to create history.
And one of those out-of-the-limelight folks that helped the Denver Broncos score an NFL record 606 points this past season as quarterback Peyton Manning set single-season records for passing touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477) has been hired to help another quarterback in another offense.
Broncos offensive assistant Jim Bob Cooter has told the Broncos he has accepted the job as quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions. And there are those inside the Broncos suburban practice complex who believe Cooter will be difficult to replace. It appeared the team has escaped the hiring period of most of the new coaching staffs in the league without losing him.
But newly-minted Lions head coach Jim Caldwell knew what the Broncos had in Cooter given that Cooter was an offensive assistant with the Colts in all three of Caldwell’s seasons as Indianapolis’ head coach.
Cooter had just completed his first season with the Broncos in 2013, but he was a key part of the offense’s gameplanning infrastructure given his work in preparing scouting reports on opposing defenses, his ability to spot trends and potential matchups on gameday and his day-to-day work with Manning. Those who know Cooter from the Broncos’ and the other staffs he’s worked for, including the Colts and Kansas City Chiefs, say Cooter was able to contribute new ideas into the offense and that he is considered a future playcaller as well.
Given his time with the Colts, Cooter also had the most day-to-day experience with Manning of anyone on the Broncos’ coaching staff. Many with the team believed Cooter was ready to coach a position full-time, but the Broncos’ run to the Super Bowl kept their assistants off the market for the most part until this past week.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase informed both the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings early in the postseason he would not interview for any potential head coaching jobs until the Broncos’ season was over. The Vikings quickly moved to hire Mike Zimmer while Gase eventually pulled his name out of the Browns search.
As a result the Broncos offensive staff is set to return intact at this point, other than Cooter’s departure.