I’d Hire Mike Shanahan in Two Seconds

Like many of you, I was shocked by the Mike Shanahan firing. I think it’s because of the strong association he has with the franchise; you just never expect a team to dump an icon like that. I understand the move and why Pat Bowlen wanted to make a change. The team hadn’t made the playoffs the past three years and was a .500 team. Worst of all, they became the first team in NFL history to blow a three game lead in the division with three games to play. Yes, I get all that and I understand how the Dolphins, Ravens, and Falcons proved turnarounds can happen overnight in the NFL. Still, I think you’ll have a hard time finding a finer coach in the NFL, one who can consistently deliver a more competitive team over the long haul than Mike Shanahan.

Even considering the collapse this season, are they forgetting that unexpected and impressive wins over the Jets and Falcons on the road put them in a position to clinch a playoff spot? Did the team not play well to get to that point? Furthermore, as I alluded to earlier, it’s the long term, consistent success that I believe shows the value of Shanahan and what makes him so good. In 14 seasons as the team’s head coach, they only had two losing season. Two. And those were of the 6 and 7 win variety — nothing totally embarrassing. Even when the team was rebuilding with a new quarterback — something that causes most coaches to have crappy seasons — the Broncos were not a bad team. Look at some of the longer tenured coaches around the league by comparison: Jeff Fisher had 4 and 5 win seasons after losing Steve McNair, Jon Gruden had 4 and 5 win seasons with the Bucs, and Jon Fox had three 7-win seasons.

The other thing that bothers is me is the graphic and notes the media keeps mentioning about Shanahan: the Broncos are 1-4 in the playoffs since Elway retired. First of all, you can pick stats to fit any argument you want. If I told you that Shanahan has the second highest winning percentage among active head coaches since John Elway retired, then what would you say? Additionally, instead of saying they’re 1-4 in the playoffs since Elway retired, how about saying that Shanahan took the Broncos to the playoffs three straight years with Jake Plummer (who was a bum in Arizona) as the quarterback, getting double-digit wins all three times? How about the one playoff win? Beating Brady and Belichick in the second round of the playoffs? I’d say that’s pretty damn good. And the losses? How about losing on the road to Peyton Manning and the Colts twice. Last time I checked that was no embarrassing matter. Or what about turning Brian Griese into a Pro Bowl quarterback of an 11-5 team? That screams amazement.

If you look past the simple numbers that the media gives you — the what has he done since Elway retired argument — you’ll see he took teams a lot farther than would be expected. He turned Jake Plummer and Brian Griese into Pro Bowl quarterbacks. He had just done the same with Jay Cutler. I believe the Broncos were on the right track since they were just rebuilding and that the rug got pulled from underneath Shanahan. It won’t take a lot to turn this team into a winner because the pieces are already there. I’m guessing Shanahan goes to Kansas City where they make him GM and coach. That would be the ultimate.

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  • http://s2nblog.wordpress.com Signal to Noise

    For all his good work with offensive players, Shanahan could not draft for the defensive end of the ball, period. Yes, he beat the Patriots in the divisional round with Jake Plummer, but that defense got plowed by Pittsburgh. Those losses to the Colts were not even close. I believe the Colts scored in the 40s both times while the Broncos didn’t break 20.

    He went through defensive coordinators damn near every year. Eventually, that has to reflect on the head coach, and the failure to sign or draft impact defensive personnel reflects on the head of the front office — and he held both roles.

  • Bill Tsiu

    The Lions should do this right now. Shanahan’s offensive scheme is efficient, and is run so well the wheels last all game. He knows D, but for one thing he’s good at hiring a solid staff. He makes running backs kings, and he has the guts to play to win the game. The NFC won’t be able to keep up with that sort of offense if he gets it up and running. Calvin needs some help though, and I’m sure if he was our coach he’d bring someone to Detroit to throw the ball and someone to draw some attention away from Calvin. I’d love to see Pat White on Ford Field. /Cool widgets at statbeast. Take a look.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Signal, you definitely did pick out the thin point in my argument and on Shanahan’s resume. There wasn’t one positive thing I mentioned about his defenses and that’s certainly the side of the ball that led him to get fired.

  • Gene

    I agree that he was not good on both sides of the ball. However, if, before the season, you told Denver fans that they would lose SEVEN running backs to injury and sustain several key injuries on the defensive side of the ball, they would have been thrilled with an 8-8 record.

    However, LB, you are basically right and the owner agreed with you. I read that Pat Bowlen asked Shanahan to fire the defensive coordinator and some other defensive assistants, and he refused. That is what led to the firing. Otherwise, if Shanahan had acquiesced, he would still be there today.