ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- On Tuesday afternoon, a day after the Broncos and John Fox agreed to part ways, John Elway essentially outlined the rungs of the ladder he expects the Denver Broncos' new coach to climb with his right hand.
As the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations and general manager talked about what the team needed to accomplish, his hand went up the ladder.
Winning the division was the first spot Elway marked, in the air about shoulder level. The playoffs were in the next spot, a few inches higher. The Super Bowl? A couple more inches. But winning the Super Bowl? Elway took his hand and raised it to a level well above his head.
"I do believe there is a huge jump from just getting there and having the ability to win it," said Elway, explaining his gestures. "Can I put my finger on it? No. But I was around it, I saw it. So whether I know it, consciously or subconsciously, I know what it feels like and I know what it takes."
Elway likes a few things about the Broncos at the moment. He likes the team's roster and the prospect of Peyton Manning returning at quarterback.
"The bottom line is we want him back," Elway said of Manning.
And now he wants "the best guy that's going to fit that seat in the head coach's office," to take the roster and push it to the next level. A level beyond AFC West titles that lead to playoff losses. He wants a coach to guide the Broncos back to the Super Bowl. But this time, he wants to win.
The qualities this coach will have?
"[We want someone who is] very smart, that is competitive, that is aching to win world championships like I am," Elway said.
He added that he'd like the successful candidate to have "championship experience." He was disappointed the team "didn't have more fire" during Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
As Elway explained why the Broncos and Fox had decided to "part ways" and assured the gathered media Manning was welcome back, he also presented a job opening for a team that finished 12-4. That team, at the moment, has nine players who were selected to the Pro Bowl. That it's a good gig -- for a coach willing to deal with the pressure of Super Bowl or bust.
Elway said the team had not formally requested permission to speak to any assistant coaches around the league, but that process did begin later Tuesday.
Expect Gary Kubiak, despite his statement on the Baltimore Ravens' website that he intended to stay as offensive coordinator, to be in the mix. Kubiak made his statement before there was an opening in Denver, before his longtime friend, former teammate, a guy he calls "Woody," was looking for a head coach. Philosophically, Kubiak is the exact kind of coach Elway is looking for, especially when it comes to meshing a productive run game into what is, at its roots, a passing offense.
Rick Dennison, the Ravens quarterbacks coach, who is also familiar with that type of offense, will also probably get a look. Dennison, a former Broncos player and longtime assistant for Mike Shanahan, blew away team officials with his interview for head coach following Shanahan's firing after the 2008 season. He might have gotten the job had his ties to Shanahan not been so strong. The Broncos simply wanted to move on, and Josh McDaniels was hired.
Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is also on the list, but the Broncos would have to wait and see if the Seahawks defeat the Packers and go to the Super Bowl.
The Broncos asked permission late Tuesday to interview Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, sources told ESPN.
Elway said Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would also be on the list. But, both might already be headed out of town. Gase met with San Francisco 49ers officials Tuesday and the team appeared poised to make him an offer. Del Rio also had a second interview with Oakland Raiders executives in the Bay Area Tuesday.
The Broncos are not expected to take a stroll down memory lane and interview Shanahan. The team's current CEO, Joe Ellis, was a part of the team's executive branch when Shanahan was fired in '08.
In all, Elway's news conference made the uniqueness of the Broncos organization clear. The team has had three losing seasons in the past 20 years. Its football operations are run by a Hall of Fame quarterback who knows both the pain of losing Super Bowls and the joy of winning Super Bowls.
Elway, as Fox found out, believes he knows what it takes to make the leap from Super Bowl loser to Super Bowl winner. Now Elway and the Broncos are looking for the head coach who can help him do it.