The name Shanahan evokes all the feels for Broncos Country.
Most of that is very good — hello, the first two Super Bowl wins in franchise history. For the younger fans, the memories might not be as positive — hello, not giving up personnel decisions or improving a bad defense.
If you live in south Denver, the name is inescapable given it’s on a steakhouse in the Denver Tech Center on the east side of Interstate 25. Needless to say, few names in these parts ring like Shanahan.
Enter Kyle Shanahan. Cue the flashbacks to when his father was considered a young offensive mastermind and the must-get candidate of the NFL. Very few aspects in life are better than a good irony.
By this point, most have a basic knowledge of Kyle’s NFL resume. This story attempts to dive deeper into his background and let fans know more about the man who could become the 16th coach in Broncos’ history.
Birthdate - Dec. 14, 1979
Birthplace - Minneapolis, Minn. His father was the offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota at the time.
Broncos connection - Shanahan was a ballboy for Denver when his dad was the head coach in Denver. As he told ESPN:
I went there and worked out at the Broncos' facility every day that school ended since I was a freshman in high school, and the guys I used to work out with were like Bill Romanowski. I carried my briefcase of vitamins around, also. Wasn’t trying to be something I wasn’t."
High school - Attended Cherry Creek High, where he would meet his future wife, Mandy, who also is from Colorado.
College - Accepted a scholarship from Duke University and coach Carl Franks to be a wide receiver. He ended up transferring to the University of Texas in 2000. It was there that he met quarterback Chris Simms. The two remain close friends, and, according to reports, Simms has Shanahan’s initials tattooed on his leg.
Coaching - Shanahan got his start as a graduate assistant at UCLA in 2003. From 2004-05, he served as the quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
From that point, Shanahan has seen a meteoric rise in his career. He would spend the next four seasons (2006-09) with the Houston Texans. In his first season, Shanahan was the receivers coach and then the quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2008. According to the Atlanta Falcons’ website, in Shanahan’s offense, Andre Johnson led the NFL in receiving yards in both 2008 (1,575) and 2009 (1,569). Johnson also led the league in receptions in 2008 (115). That is great news for the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Shanahan also helped transform Matt Schaub into the NFL’s best passer with his 4,770 yards in 2009.
What stands out the most from that time: He worked with and learned from Gary Kubiak. As I said earlier this week, it’s not about offense or defense, experienced or rookie when it comes to Denver’s next coach. It’s about character, judgment, leadership, management and communication.
As he told ESPN:
Kub was really good to me. I’m still somewhat young (36), but I was a lot younger then. When you’re young, everything is such a big deal. You haven’t been through everything. So, I think he had patience with me. I was probably a pain in the butt a lot. He listened and let me do a bunch.
After his time with the Texans, Shanahan teamed with this father as the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins. In those four seasons, Washington saw offense like the franchise had never seen before. That speaks volumes given the success Hall of Fame and three-time Super Bowl champion coach of the Redskins Joe Gibbs had. As the Falcons’ website said, “Under Shanahan’s tutelage, the Redskins became the first team in NFL history to pass for 3,400 yards and rush for 2,700 in the same season.” He also helped Robert Griffin III become Rookie of the Year and have one of the best seasons a rookie quarterback has had in NFL history.
After his time in Washington, Shanahan became the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. The offense was decent, but it’s Cleveland, so we won’t spend any more time there.
Shanahan is in his second season as the offensive coordinator for the Falcons, and one could argue it’s his best yet — at any stop. Matt Ryan had the best season of his career in every statistical category and is a leading candidate for league MVP, the Falcons are in the top five in both passing and rushing (the only team with that distinction) and they led the NFL in points per game at 33.8. Not to mention, Atlanta is the No. 2 seed in the NFC and have a very good chance to reach the Super Bowl in Houston.
That leads us to where we are right now.
All of this points to the fact he’s the latest offensive mastermind who also happens to have the name Shanahan. With the talent the Broncos have, coupled with him and the staff he would bring, you see why he’s eying the job and Denver is eying him.
Broncos Country best prepare itself for another Shanahan.