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Shapiro: Shanahan still in the mix because Elway wants an offense like he had

And that means the door is still open for Kyle Shanahan, according to the guys at The Afternoon Drive.

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John Elway #7

All the hot talk in Denver right now is about coaching prospects, and though three have been interviewed, only two seem to still be commanding John Elway’s attention.

But Les Shapiro and Eric Goodman of The Afternoon Drive discussed why Kyle Shanahan can still grab the job despite all the news surrounding Vance Joseph’s interview in Denver Tuesday.

And while Denver reporters spent much of the afternoon guessing what it could mean that the Miami defensive coordinator was still in the interview after four hours, that he was hanging out in the building after the interview and that he was apparently out to dinner with Elway before staying the night and heading to his next two interviews tomorrow - the only thing anyone really knows is that as of yet, the Broncos still have not named a head coach.

Reports have been swirling that it’s been Joseph’s job to lose, but Shapiro noted that Elway is “not closing the door on Kyle Shanahan because of his disgust with the offense.”

More specifically, Shapiro said Elway wants an offense like No. 7 had in Denver.

“He wants his team to be able to go up and down the field the same way he did with his Broncos teams under Mike Shanahan, and he knows Kyle knows offense as well as daddy,” Shapiro said, adding that Elway believes now that he was “spoiled” by Shanahan’s offenses and the Broncos marching up and down the field to score.

So while Elway still believes the Broncos’ identity is its defense, he wants the offense to be a whole lot better. And that means a very difficult decision - does Elway go with the brilliant offensive mind who has struggled to gain/maintain respect in the locker room, or does he go with a good defensive mind who has commanded great respect from his players?

For those in the Shanny camp, it’s a legit question to ask whether he can be the guy for the entire team or if he’s just going to be good for the offense?

And for those in the Joseph camp, it’s fair to wonder just how good his coaching resumé will be when his current defense is not much to write home about.

Shapiro did have some interesting insight into some of the interest in Joseph as head coach - No. 1, he gave a very impressive interview two years ago; 2) he and Matt Russell, director of player personnel and Elway’s right-hand man, are very tight from their CU days together; and 3) as the defensive backs coach in Cincinnati, he did a very good job.

Also, for some interesting perspective on what players think of Joseph, The Afternoon Drive spoke with Miami radio show host/Dolphins beat reporter Josh Friedman, who acknowledged right away that Denver fans probably look to Joseph’s defense this season and wonder “why do we want this guy?”

To the stats, Friedman offered that Joseph was “dealt with a spate of injuries and really not very good talent.”

“You can point to those bad numbers, but I think I’ve got very good reasons for those numbers,” Friedman said adding that the defense could only be as good as its players ultimately. Also, he noted that the Dolphins were a “bend-don’t-break defense” and while they gave up an average of 140 yards on the ground, “the red zone defense was one of the best in the NFL.”

But beyond that, Friedman says the players love playing for him.

“Players love this guy. They love playing for him. He’s very honest with them. He’s very straight forward with them,” Friedman said. “Defensive players love him. They want a guy who will teach them well. ...Joseph commands respect and insists on high play. Who wouldn’t want a boss that raises the crossbar and demands excellence? You also want a coach that looks you in the eye and tells you where you stand. Vance Joseph does all those things.”

Ironically, Friedman noted that if he were Elway and were tasked with finding a new head coach, he’d probably go with Shanahan just because of the specific needs of the offense.

“But I would do everything I could to keep Wade,” Friedman added, saying he’d want Shanahan to just let Wade Phillips continue to do this thing.

So I ask you, Broncos Country...

  • Is Shanahan’s offensive brilliance amazing enough to overcome a potential deficiency when it comes to being the guy the locker room will rally for?
  • Is the need on offense so great that Joseph’s strengths in that area are overshadowed?