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  • Article on Shanahan and his "Mastery?"

    Mastery now a mystery
    By Mark Kiszla
    The Denver Post
    Article Last Updated: 01/10/2008 11:15:39 PM MST

    Where could the Broncos find a better coach than Mike Shanahan?

    That's no longer the right question.

    It's now more appropriate to ask: How many NFL coaches could do much worse for so long and survive?

    Shanahan has been a 9-7 football coach for nearly a decade, with so little playoff success it would get him fired if his name were Wade Phillips or Marty Schottenheimer.

    During the past nine NFL seasons, only eight of 32 league teams have won fewer playoff games than the Broncos, whose lone postseason win since the 1999 campaign was 24 months ago against New England.

    So how the heck does Shanahan keep his job?

    Does the brilliance of those two old Super Bowl rings forever blind owner Pat Bowlen to the sad, yesterday's news reality of a football franchise mired in mediocrity?

    "He's a great owner. He's had so much success that he understands the big picture," Shanahan said Thursday.

    "Nobody could put more heat on me than me. What kind of heat am I feeling? It's not financial. It's winning."

    By any reasonable accounting, Shanahan has forfeited his right to be the Broncos' coach for life. Denver cannot pretend it owns anything better than average NFL talent, even through the prism of orange-tinted glasses.

    "I think the gap is very big right now between the Patriots, the Colts and everybody else," said Shanahan, insisting it doesn't take a genius to figure out the league's pecking order.

    The eight teams that have failed to win a playoff game since '99 are so desperate for success they have tried 30 different coaches in those eight woebegone NFL cities during the past nine seasons.

    In Denver, nothing ever changes, except the next scapegoat felled by Shanahan's evil eye.

    For too long, it has been the fault of an uncoordinated defense by Jim Bates or the bad aim of quarterback Jake Plummer, rather than the man who hired them. Next failed idea to be sent packing: Javon Walker, a self-obsessed receiver destined to run an out pattern until Colorado is in his rearview mirror.

    "It goes back to me. I'm in charge of this thing," said Shanahan, who now must realize he faces the most intense scrutiny and real pressure of his Denver reign.

    Yes, a proud franchise can fall on hard times. For example: It has been such a long, rough ride in Dallas that the last time the Cowboys won a playoff game, Troy Aikman was their quarterback.

    But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is on his third coach of this decade, and should Dallas win this weekend, guess who will own as many playoff victories since '99 as Shanahan? The affable Phillips, long ago dumped as Denver's coach when his little train derailed and Shanny was hired to put the Broncos back on track.

    The success in this decade by the never-more defense of the Baltimore Ravens or the down-and-dirty Tampa Bay Bucs suggests it's not essential for a championship team to have a star quarterback. From Bart Starr to Tom Brady, however, every NFL dynasty has been ruled more by the arm of its QB than the iron fist of a coach.

    Before he was declared a genius in New England, Bill Belichick watched somebody named Eric Zeier play quarterback in '95 for the Browns, which got the arrogant coach nominated for the most hated man in Cleveland sports history, right behind carpet-bagging owner Art Modell.

    So I asked Shanahan: What's more crucial to a team's success? A great coach? Or a great quarterback?

    "No. 1, you better have a quarterback," Shanahan said. "I don't care where you're at. If you don't have a great quarterback, you better have a great defense. To me, though, to win Super Bowls, you have to have an organization in place with a lot of people going in the same direction."

    For too long, the Broncos of Shanahan have been marking time, going nowhere fast.

    What have we learned after watching Shanahan have the final word on all football matters for 13 years? That the real power has never been in his hands.

    It was always fun to tease Shanahan as the mastermind. But never really fair. Why?

    The smartest football coaches, whether the name is Lombardi or Landry, can teach players how to win. Only a quarterback, however, can turn a team into the stuff of legend.

    If you listened closely to Shanahan as he poked through the rubble of this 7-9 season, you heard rare vulnerability. A coach should be good for 10 wins every year. But he suggested only talent can push a team to elite status.

    Which is why John Elway will forever and always be a more essential figure in Broncos history than Shanahan.

    Once steamrolling toward the Hall of Fame, the career of Shanahan has stalled. If the coach misses the playoffs for a third consecutive season in 2008, Bowlen will have to answer angry Broncomaniacs demanding a change in the team's direction.

    While Shanahan might be one of the NFL's most powerful coaches, you want to know the truth?

    His fate now rests in the hands of quarterback Jay Cutler.

    http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_7938136

  • #2
    I think anyone who thinks that Shanahan's job is safe if the Broncos don't make the playoffs in 2008 is fooling themselves, especially after the firing of Bates.

    However, I have a hunch that the Broncos are going to rebound next season and be back in the playoffs. I just think Shanahan - for the first time in a long time - is feeling more pressure and heat to get this team back on track, and will make the necessary moves to yield a playoff team for '08.
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    • #3
      I agree with Mojo here. Every time people, especially those in the local media, like Kiszla the crybaby, start doubt Shanahan, he gets it together and fields an impressive team.

      That said, he's really up against it this year, so it'll be interesting to see what occurs.
      In Manning I trust.

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      • #4
        I also believe next year will be a telling year for Shanahan.

        Unfortunately, I don't think Denver will be making the playoffs. There's just too many voids on defense, and in the AFC I don't see them turning it around with so many good young quality teams already ahead of them.

        Indy, New Eng, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, SD, Tenn, even Cleveland, Houston, Baltimore will be intriguing, etc....

        On the other hand, I think it will be fun watching the offense.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TheRealMoose View Post
          Every time people, especially those in the local media, like Kiszla the crybaby, start doubt Shanahan, he gets it together and fields an impressive team.
          Keep articles like these coming in that's the case.

          I don't know that his job's in jeopardy for this upcoming year. At least I hope not. I think he's a great coach, just not a great general manager. If I were Pat I wouldn't be looking to fire Shannahan if we came up short again, I'd just be looking to strip his duties in the personnel office. Shannahan seems to get the bruised apples, stale chips, and molded bread. He cooks a fine dinner, but somebody else needs to do his shopping for him.

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          • #6
            That lst line about Culter + Shanny. Duh? Does the writer think they are saying something specail and unknown here? a lot of coaches go through down/rebuild periods. It is basically impossible to win every year.

            Do I expect the Broncos to make it to the playoffs next year? Yes ma'am. If the direction doesn't go to the positive and we are stalling next year, then yes, maybe possibly, Mike needs to step aside but you have to remember the players that are really going to make a difference, well, a few major ones at least, this was basically their first "real" year being "a bronco", NFL player.

            Know what I mean? It's a real young team with still voids to fill in the future.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by silkamilkamonic View Post
              I also believe next year will be a telling year for Shanahan.

              Unfortunately, I don't think Denver will be making the playoffs. There's just too many voids on defense, and in the AFC I don't see them turning it around with so many good young quality teams already ahead of them.

              Indy, New Eng, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, SD, Tenn, even Cleveland, Houston, Baltimore will be intriguing, etc....

              On the other hand, I think it will be fun watching the offense.
              Well, I personally think we'll make the playoffs because of our offense.

              I don't see us winning any more than 9-11 games next season, but that should be enough for at least a wild card spot, IMO. But a playoff berth should be enough to save Shanahan's job for at least one more season.

              The thing is, this team just has to continue to get better and better, and take baby steps to do so. The goal next season should be to just get back into the playoffs, and keep improving thereafter.

              However, not making the playoffs for three consecutive seasons? I just don't see Shanahan being able to explain that to Pat Bowlen in a way that saves his job, no matter how secure he may feel with Bowlen.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Maharishineo View Post
                Keep articles like these coming in that's the case.

                I don't know that his job's in jeopardy for this upcoming year. At least I hope not. I think he's a great coach, just not a great general manager. If I were Pat I wouldn't be looking to fire Shannahan if we came up short again, I'd just be looking to strip his duties in the personnel office. Shannahan seems to get the bruised apples, stale chips, and molded bread. He cooks a fine dinner, but somebody else needs to do his shopping for him.
                Shanahan the Coach and Shanahan the GM are essentially one entitiy - you can't have one without the other.

                So if Bowlen strips Shanahan of his GM responsibilities, I have no doubt that he'll just be fired outright, or leave the Broncos.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mojo0730 View Post
                  Shanahan the Coach and Shanahan the GM are essentially one entitiy - you can't have one without the other.

                  So if Bowlen strips Shanahan of his GM responsibilities, I have no doubt that he'll just be fired outright, or leave the Broncos.
                  It's unfortunate, because I know you're right...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mojo0730 View Post
                    Well, I personally think we'll make the playoffs because of our offense.

                    I don't see us winning any more than 9-11 games next season, but that should be enough for at least a wild card spot, IMO. But a playoff berth should be enough to save Shanahan's job for at least one more season.

                    The thing is, this team just has to continue to get better and better, and take baby steps to do so. The goal next season should be to just get back into the playoffs, and keep improving thereafter.

                    However, not making the playoffs for three consecutive seasons? I just don't see Shanahan being able to explain that to Pat Bowlen in a way that saves his job, no matter how secure he may feel with Bowlen.
                    I believe it takes more then just the offense to make the playoffs. Cincinatti is a clear cut example of that. The one year they defense was remotely average they made the playoffs. There are just too many solid teams all the way through at this point in time in the AFC.

                    I also don't see Denver all of a sudden solving their red zone issues.

                    I think next year will be another year of even more total yards without being able to score TD's, which will kill our team considering our defense can't keep anyone out of the endzone for an extended period of time.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by silkamilkamonic View Post
                      I believe it takes more then just the offense to make the playoffs. Cincinatti is a clear cut example of that. The one year they defense was remotely average they made the playoffs. There are just too many solid teams all the way through at this point in time in the AFC.

                      I also don't see Denver all of a sudden solving their red zone issues.

                      I think next year will be another year of even more total yards without being able to score TD's, which will kill our team considering our defense can't keep anyone out of the endzone for an extended period of time.
                      It really depends on who our running back is next season, which is why I wouldn't be shocked to see Denver take a RB in the first or second round.

                      I'm not kidding myself - I know this defense is going to be average to mediocre again next season (although it shouldn't be as bad as it was this year, otherwise we do have a serious problem). However, I also could tell that Shanahan realizes his leash with Bowlen has gotten shorter this season, and he knows he has to - AND I MEAN HAS TO - get this team back to the postseason next season, especially after 'scapegoating' another DC. So with that, I see Shanahan pulling out all the stops and digging down deep and coming up with some new thngs on offense to essentiallly will this team to the postseason in '08.

                      But if not...then I can see us finding a new HC for 2009.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by silkamilkamonic View Post
                        I believe it takes more then just the offense to make the playoffs. Cincinatti is a clear cut example of that. The one year they defense was remotely average they made the playoffs. There are just too many solid teams all the way through at this point in time in the AFC.

                        I also don't see Denver all of a sudden solving their red zone issues.

                        I think next year will be another year of even more total yards without being able to score TD's, which will kill our team considering our defense can't keep anyone out of the endzone for an extended period of time.
                        Why is that? Why don't you think we can put that together with a 3rd yr QB and a healthy running game? Why do you think the red zone issues are so unobtainable?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ravage!!! View Post
                          Why is that? Why don't you think we can put that together with a 3rd yr QB and a healthy running game? Why do you think the red zone issues are so unobtainable?
                          I think if we can somehow find or luck into a power running back in the offseason, that will solve a lot of our problems with the redzone.
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                          • #14
                            Even if Shanny misses the playoffs next year, he should come back as coach. On the condition he comes back to his senses and starts building this team the only way he knows how to coach......strong run game and an aggressive QB. We already have the QB, and what Shanny was known for was his aggression. That was when he was known as the "Mastermind" back in the day.

                            Now a days, looks like he is caught up in trying to build a team he's not used to coaching. A run game full of average HB's and decent o-lineman, just inserted into a superior system.....its no wonder we are confused when he runs in obvious pass situations, or passes in run situations, because we know we cant run sometimes.

                            If Shanny had a strong run game (coupled with Cutler) we'd be an elite team again, simple as that in my most honest opinion.
                            dont let him pull dat move on ya, dont let him pull that move.......................oh no dats da move! TOUCHDOWN!!!

                            I tried to warn ya.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Return of Lava View Post
                              Even if Shanny misses the playoffs next year, he should come back as coach. On the condition he comes back to his senses and starts building this team the only way he knows how to coach......strong run game and an aggressive QB. We already have the QB, and what Shanny was known for was his aggression. That was when he was known as the "Mastermind" back in the day.

                              Now a days, looks like he is caught up in trying to build a team he's not used to coaching. A run game full of average HB's and decent o-lineman, just inserted into a superior system.....its no wonder we are confused when he runs in obvious pass situations, or passes in run situations, because we know we cant run sometimes.

                              If Shanny had a strong run game (coupled with Cutler) we'd be an elite team again, simple as that in my most honest opinion.
                              If Shanahan doesn't 'come to his senses' after this season, I seriously doubt he will do so if they miss the playoffs again next season.

                              This was Shanahan's wake up call. If he somehow manages a similar or worse season than this one, I don't see how anyone can be hopeful he can turn it around the following year.

                              Having said that, I would be amazingly shocked if the Broncos missed the playoffs in '08.
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