Two strikes, and Vance Joseph is out.

The 46-year-old coach who was hired by the Broncos in 2017 was fired Monday, just as many expected after two seasons of failure to make the playoffs. Joseph’s record as Denver’s head coach finishes at 11-21.

Despite positive flashes from Joseph’s team over the last two years, particularly early in the season, the ultimate lack of a winning season cost the coach his job. John Elway is now tasked with hiring his fourth coach since he arrived as the head of Broncos football operations in 2011.

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Below are the best candidates for the Broncos so consider in their head-coaching search.

Dave Toub, Chiefs special teams coordinator

Second time’s a charm? Toub was a finalist for the job in Denver when Joseph ultimately was hired. Two years later, the longtime assistant under Andy Reid remains a strong candidate to be a head coach. And we know Elway likes him.

Toub, 56, is considered long overdue for his chance. He might get it in Denver and not even have to leave the AFC West.

Mike Shanahan, former Raiders, Broncos and Redskins coach

A return to the Denver head-coaching role reportedly was a possibility for Shanahan last year. So of course it still applies for the 66-year-old who apparently is interested in getting back into coaching.

Shanahan last coached in the NFL in 2013, with the Redskins. He last coached the Broncos in 2008, which was his 14th season in that role. Shanahan’s candidacy this time around is all about stability; he presumably also would have access to top-notch coordinators to work under him.

Matt LaFleur, Titans offensive coordinator

LaFleur interviewed for Tennessee’s head-coaching job last year before Mike Vrabel got the gig. He left his OC job with the Rams in part so he could assume play-calling duties for the Titans; head coach Sean McVay calls the plays in LA.

But that McVay connection is also what makes LaFleur, 38, such an intriguing option. The Broncos could look at McVay’s work with Jared Goff and dream of similar results from a pairing of LaFleur and a QB to be named later. Helping LaFleur’s case, too, is the fact that he has served under respected 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan twice — he was the QB coach for Shanahan, then a coordinator, in both Washington (2010-13) and Atlanta (2015-16).

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John DeFilippo, Vikings offensive coordinator 

Getting let go by Mike Zimmer and the Vikings during the 2018 season has barely dented DeFilippo’s candidacy. His career work as a brilliant QB coach culminated last season, when he served as the Eagles’ QB coach and helped Carson Wentz (and then Nick Foles) lead Philadelphia to its first Super Bowl.

Like with LaFleur, the Broncos hiring DeFilippo, 40, would be a move made with an offensive revolution in mind. And that revolution likely would require a new direction at quarterback, too.

Dan Campbell, Saints TE coach

Campbell’s stint as Miami’s interim coach a few years ago will be referenced often when his name comes up as a candidate; as it should, because his impact was impressive. But now Campbell has some time working under Sean Payton in New Orleans on his resume.

Campbell, 42, is known as a strong motivator. The Payton influence only sweetens the deal.

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David Shaw, Stanford head coach

This one’s all about the Stanford connection between Elway and Shaw. Due to that connection, Denver might be the best NFL fit for the 46-year-old who has coached Elway’s alma mater since 2011.

The question about Shaw, though, is whether he has any interes

t in leaving Stanford and jumping to the NFL coaching ranks. He has given no indication he’d be willing to do so.

Jim Bob Cooter, Lions offensive coordinator

Elway should have positive memories from the season in which Cooter was on the Broncos’ staff. In 2013, when Denver’s offense shattered NFL records, Cooter was an offensive assistant under then-coordinator Adam Gase.

Now Cooter is 34 and coming off three strong seasons as offensive coordinator in Detroit. Given what Sean McVay has done in Los Angeles, Cooter’s age should not turn away NFL teams who are interested in hiring him as a head coach.