<
>

Broncos fire defensive line coach Patterson

The remaking of the Denver Broncos' defensive staff continued Wednesday as the team fired defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who had been with the club for only two seasons.

On Tuesday, coach Mike Shanahan fired defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, who held that position for four years. The Broncos statistically ranked 14th in the NFL in total defense in 2006, but the unit's collapse over the second half of the season mirrored that of the team in general, as Denver failed to earn a playoff berth.

Patterson, 47, has worked in the league since 1997.

The veteran assistant coach was lauded in 2005 for the improvement in the Denver defensive front, and he was instrumental in bringing four former Cleveland Browns' lineman to the Broncos' roster. But those same linemen didn't play nearly as well in 2006.

Even though the Broncos increased their sack total, from 28 in 2005 to 35 in 2006, the front line wasn't as much a factor and the performances of several veterans slipped. The team's most effective pass rusher was rookie Elvis Dumervil, a fourth-round choice who notched 8½ sacks.

Given the regard in which he is held around the NFL, and the amount of staff turnover with other teams, Patterson is likely to find a job within the league for 2007.

After playing at Montana in the early 1980s, Patterson entered the coaching ranks and served on five different staffs before moving to the NFL with New England in 1997. He also worked at Minnesota (1998-99), Dallas (2000-2002) and Cleveland (2003-2004) before being hired by the Broncos in 2005.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.