Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Broncos Fire Shanahan

Posted by mizzou1028 on December 31, 2008

I was going to write a quick post today about my first college bowl game experience in person, having attended the Alamo Bowl last night in San Antonio, won by Missouri (my alma matter) over Northwestern (my sister’s alma matter) in overtime.  I was also going to offer my picks for wild card weekend before heading out of town again for New Years (quickie picks still offered below).  Those thoughts have been very quickly derailed by the news that the Broncos have fired Mike Shanahan after 14 years.  This is a move that I have very mixed feelings about, and probably won’t have a true concrete opinion about it for several more days while I wait for the shock and numbness to settle in, but here are my quick hit thoughts:

– The Broncos would not have won the two Super Bowls they have if not for Shanahan.  He’s the one that brought in Terrell Davis, he’s the one that gave John Elway the tools around him (Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey), he’s the one that brought in the defensive personnel at the time to make that work.  His game day play calling in

those seasons was extraordinary.  The Broncos and their fans know that the team would probably still have zero championships if not for Shanahan’s time here, so let’s not forget that before we start congratulating Bowlen on a good move.

– That being said, the Broncos have won just one playoff game in 10 years since Elway’s retirement.  They have been embarrassed every time they’ve made the playoffs since Elway has departed, getting clobbered in playoff games in Baltimore and Indianapolis, and losing a rough AFC title game at home to Pittsburgh in convincing fashion.  All told, the Broncos have actually missed the playoffs in six of the ten years post-Elway, including the past three.  This is simply not acceptable.  I appreciate the two championships, believe me.  I realize we may never get another one.  I know it is hard to make the playoffs and win that time of year in the NFL, but too many times the Broncos have collapsed late in the year after a hot start.  The Broncos have not been one of the league’s elite for the better part of ten years.  

– On the other hand, the Broncos have only experienced two sub-.500 seasons under Shanahan: 1999 (the first year post-Elway) and 2007.  Shanahan was 138-86 in his 14 years with the Broncos, which is a much higher percentage than a majority of coaches in the league.  I guarantee every team with a coaching vacancy has already called Shanahan’s agent to inquire about his availability.  In fact, your team’s brass may be wondering right now if they need to fire their coach so they can make a run at Shanahan.  I’m also wondering if a college program may target Shanahan, although there aren’t many openings left there.  Don’t think I’m not trembling at the thought of Shanahan on the Browns sideline next season when Cleveland comes to Mile High.

– Frankly Shanahan has run out of people to blame.  He has run off countless defensive coordinators during his tenure, and has had three coordinators since 2005 alone (Larry Coyer, Jim Bates and Bob Slowik).  He also ran off the head of personnel, Ted Sunquist, before this season.  Ultimately, the team’s recent failure has to fall on Shanahan, especially considering the team’s tackling against San Diego was the worst I have seen in my 20 years plus of watching Broncos football since I was a kid.  

– I hope Pat Bowlen knows what he’s doing.  I struggle to name many coaches in the football world right now that would be an improvement over Shanahan.  Bill Cowher would be one of the few, but does he even want to return to coaching?  Is he the name that Bowlen has in mind?  Cowher has turned down the Browns job and is apparently interviewing with the Jets, but Denver would be far away from his family in North Carolina. Is Bowlen going to try to pry Bill Parcells away from Miami?  I would love it, but I can only see Parcells in a GM capacity right now, not as a coach.  Would either one of them even be interested in the Broncos?  I honestly can’t come up with another name that I would like.  Eric Mangini? Romeo Crennel?  Mike Martz?  No, no and hell no.  One name I would go for is Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, but I doubt the Eagles would be dumb enough to let him get away.  Same with Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator of the Giants.  Perhaps there is a young unknown out there that would be a good fit, I don’t know, but whoever they hire will stepping into enormous shoes, so they’d better be up to filling them.  

– Honestly, I’m still not sure how I really feel about this.  I really think I will need more time to see how I really feel about the Broncos dumping their long time coach.  A lot of it may ultimately have to do with who the replacement ends up being.  It comes as a complete shock, mainly because Shanahan has been the coach of the Broncos since I was in high school.  I thought up until two weeks ago that this was one of his best coaching jobs this year keeping the team together in light of too many injuries to count.  Ultimately though, the Broncos collapse from the AFC West lead to the 12th overall pick in the draft is too drastic to not hold someone accountable for it.  The Broncos were an 8-8 team this year, which is not going to cut it.  They are 24-24 over the past three seasons, and that won’t cut it.  It has been ten years since the Broncos won the Super Bowl, and while they have two more titles than many other franchises, ten years is a long time to not experience playoff success.  I just hope this doesn’t become a case of the Broncos not realizing what they had in the coaching department until it’s too late.  If Shanahan turns another franchise around and the Broncos continue to flounder, I will be sick.  If the Broncos do turn it around under someone else, than it will be lauded as a great move, even if Shanahan finds success elsewhere.  Only time will tell.

Wild Card playoff picks:

– Falcons over Cardinals: Neither team expected to be here.  I like Michael Turner and the Falcons running game to outscore the Cards’ high powered passing game.  

– Colts over Chargers: Two of the league’s hottest teams collide. Peyton Manning outduels Philip Rivers.

– Ravens over Dolphins: Baltimore won handily during the season.  Chad Pennington will play better this time, but I like the odds of Baltimore’s defense enjoying success in the playoffs.

– Vikings over Eagles: Minnesota has not won a playoff game in a long time.  The Metrodome will be rocking, and Adrian Peterson will have a big day.

Last Week: 13-3 (.812) Regular Season Final Record: 160-96-1 (.622)


2 Responses to “Broncos Fire Shanahan”

  1. Doug Baker said

    Nice post. I am stunned the Bronocos fired Shanahan. I know that people are already trying to poach the Patriots key staff, as they do every year. Josh McDaniels would be a good fit for the offense and their skills as a head coach, but the Broncos need more help on defense than anything else.

    Is it just me or did Cutler play like crap himself the past few weeks?

  2. mizzou1028 said

    I would agree that Cutler did not exactly handle himself well the last few weeks of the season. It will be interesting to see if the new coach, whoever it is, can help Cutler hone his game and improve his attitude when things aren’t going well.

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