Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Shanahan Follow Up

Posted by mizzou1028 on January 5, 2009

I have now had a week to digest the idea that Mike Shanahan is no longer the Broncos head coach.  I have to admit I am still torn on whether or not this is the right move for the Broncos in the long run.  In many ways, it seems hard to justify dismissing a coach who is in the top 15 all-time in wins and who has won two Super Bowls.  On the other hand, Shanahan has not come close in the past decade to duplicating his early success with the Broncos.  I think ultimately the change of scenery should end up benefiting both the team and Shanahan.  It is a guarantee that Shanahan will coach again, if not this coming season than definitely in 2010, and it is inevitable that new surroundings will motivate Shanahan to prove he can still coach at a high level.  It also stands to reason that new blood in the Broncos coaching staff should provide an energy boost heading into next season as well.

So far I am actually mostly pleased with the Broncos’ list of candidates that they have come up with.  I am somewhat disappointed that Bill Cowher wants to stay with CBS, but realistically he wasn’t going to coach that far away from his family in North Carolina anyway.  I like the idea of a defensive coach, mainly because that side of the ball has continued to slip drastically for three years.  I think Steve Spagnuolo is my clear cut first choice right now.  He would certainly bring an aggressive defensive philosophy with a proven track record for success, having brilliantly come up with a scheme to slow down the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl.  He has the type of personality and philosophy that would represent the kind of change Broncos owner Pat Bowlen seems to be hoping for.  Not surprisingly, Spagnuolo is being targeted by seemingly every team with a head coaching opening, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he elected to stay closer to the east coast. 

One reason why I think a defensive coach makes a lot more sense for the Broncos is that Jay Cutler has openly expressed a desire to keep the offensive side of the Broncos current coaching staff, including play caller Jeremy Bates.  An offensive coach would naturally want to take over that side of the ball, and I think the transition would be smoother if Bates was allowed to be retained.  That being said, Cutler does not run the team, and it certainly seems as though he could sometimes use an attitude adjustment when things aren’t going his way.  I think if Spagnuolo ends up staying closer to New York, I am very intrigued by the idea of today’s interviewee, Raheem Morris, recently promoted to Buccaneers defensive coordinator.  Other options I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to include Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, who has reportedly said he expects to be a head coach somewhere in 2009, or Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.  All of the defensive  names mentioned have strong personailities and I think that is what the Broncos could use right now.  The Broncos wouldn’t be allowed to interview Ryan until Baltimore’s season is over, and that could end up being after the Super Bowl, so something tells me the Broncos will have a decision by then.  If they don’t, I would love to see Ryan on the radar screen.

As for Cutler and the offense, that area could use some tweaking too.  The Broncos finished second in the league in yards but more in the middle of the pack in points.  The Broncos’ red zone failure has been a big problem in recent years, so perhaps an offensive mind could be the answer to help those offensive shortcomings.   It has been long rumored that Bowlen would like have John Elway involved in the organization in some capacity, either in the front office or on the coaching staff.  While I certainly wouldn’t advocate Elway for the head coaching position (the track record throughout sports of superstars as coaches is not good),  I do think his presence in some capacity as a mentor/tutor for Cutler could be huge plus.  While Cutler had a great year statistically, he frankly did not make the leaps in terms of leadership and clutch play that was expected from him in his third season.  Cutler definitely has the tools be a great quarterback, and who better than Elway to help show him the way?

All told, I still think a defensive minded head coach would be better for the team as a whole.  The offense if nothing else will have the stable of running backs healthy again next season, and that will help a lot.  Plus, everyone will have another year of experience.  If a defensive coach is hired and the current offensive staff is retained, it could actually help preserve some continuity on the offensive side of the ball while working to fix the defensive shortcomings.  I really hope it’s Spagnuolo, but I’m not optimistic about that if the Broncos end up in a bidding war with the Jets for his services.  Regardless, I hope the new coach will bring energy and will work to turn the team around.

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2 Responses to “Shanahan Follow Up”

  1. Doug Baker said

    Nice post. I think Spagnuolo would be a good fit for just about any team. I wonder who will dare to take over the Lions job. That’s a graveyard for a coaching career.

  2. mizzou1028 said

    It will be interesting to see which brave soul will want the Lions job. But they could look at the bright side, 4-12 would be considered great success.

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