clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Should the Denver Broncos bring back Mike Shanahan?

New, comments

It worked before... could it work again? Imagine a front office of John Elway, Gary Kubiak, and Mike Shanahan calling the shots.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Colorado Rockies
Fun fact: Shanny wouldn’t even be the oldest coach in the league if he came back next year.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If you were to enter “Broncos” yesterday on social media or Google your feed would have been full with news that John Elway tried to bring Mike Shanahan back into the fold last year. Reports differ, but the gist is that the team’s CEO and President Joe Ellis nixed it.

That and the way the Vance Joseph era is going out with a whimper got me wondering: with the way the Broncos ownership situation and apparent power struggle between Ellis and Elway has come into the spotlight, what coaching candidates will seriously consider a vacated head coaching gig next year? There are mitigating circumstances, but Denver has had 4 coaches in 6 years if they go to hire a new one next year. That combined with a number of openings around the league means that Elway could have a hard time picking up his top choice.

Unless it was Mike Shanahan.

We had quite the discussion about this among the MHR crew yesterday. I went into it as Switzerland. I was neither for, nor against Shanahan. With John Harbaugh all but assured another year with the Ravens I was leaning towards Adam Gase or someone like Matt LaFleur, but the more I thought about it; perhaps Shanny makes sense.

The Broncos need work on the offensive side of the ball, but do have the tools to run the patented zone run scheme made popular by Kubiak and Shanahan. Remember those rumors that Kubes wanted to be an Offensive Coordinator? He may not need to go too far to do it.

Elway is almost certain to draft a new franchise QB in the draft next year and it’s best for the team’s long term viability to find a coaching staff that will aid in his development. I personally believe Paxton Lynch wasn’t ever going to succeed, but he didn’t seem to get much help from the Mike McCoy/Bill Musgraves staff in 2017. The Kubiak/Shanny system made chicken sandwiches out of Brian Griese and Jake Plummer. Jay Cutler went to the Pro Bowl in Shanahan’s last season. There’s reason to believe Shanny would find a way to rebuild the receiving corps if Emmanuel Sanders can’t return to health next year.

There would be questions, obviously. Denver’s defense is in a great spot with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb up front, but will need a new defensive coordinator if Joseph and Woods are canned. Shanahan’s tenure ended because his defense became a complete albatross. He’d really need someone to come in and essentially lead that side of the ball.

The other looming concern is the dynamic between Shanahan and Elway. There have been multiple rumors over the years about their icy relationship. How long would the two make things work in a reunion special? Would winning keep all the egos in check?

On to your Broncos links

NFL coaching hot seat: Steve Wilks, Doug Marrone, Vance Joseph | SI.com

There’s no sense in firing Joseph before the end of the season, but there’s no scenario out there where he’s back in Denver in 2019.

Woody Paige: Secret meetings between John Elway, Mike Shanahan nearly led to far different coaching, QB outcome for Broncos | Premium | gazette.com

From the horses mouth.

Broncos GM John Elway tried to hire Mike Shanahan; Joe Ellis blocked it - Mile High Report

In a bombshell dropped by Woody Paige from The Gazette on Monday, the Denver Broncos and John Elway held secret meetings with former head coach Mike Shanahan in early 2018 to become the next head coach of the team.

John Elway, Mike Shanahan met about Shanahan Broncos return

A second time around for Shanahan with the Broncos does seem unlikely. Paige wrote in his column that he doesn’t expect it to happen. He wrote that Ellis pushed for Shanahan to be fired after the 2008 season.

Broncos Fans on Blame John Elway Deserves for Browns Loss, Bad Season | Westword

The loss resulted in an unexpected bit of ass-covering by Elway — or at least that’s how we interpret the timely appearance of a column by Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette, who reported that Number 7 had wanted to fire Joseph last December and replace him with veteran Broncos head man Mike Shanahan but was prevented from doing so by team president Joe Ellis.

Report: John Elway considered firing Vance Joseph, hiring Mike Shanahan – ProFootballTalk

Standing in the way was Broncos CEO Joe Ellis, who said if Elway was going to move on from Joseph, he needed to conduct a full coaching search, and not just hand the job to Shanahan.

Vance Joseph: Broncos coaching talks ‘not my concern’ - NFL.com

”I’ve spoken to John, that’s a private conversation,” Joseph said. “That’s the least of my worries is the article ... That’s not my concern ... What’s being written, being said, that’s not my concern.”

Shane Ray found late notice he’d be inactive “disrespectful” – ProFootballTalk

The Broncos made linebacker Shane Ray and safety Su’a Cravens healthy scratches for their game against the Browns on Saturday night and neither player was thrilled by the development.

2019 NFL Draft: Justin Herbert top QB on Big Board | SI.com

The top prospects for the 2019 NFL draft, according to evaluators polled from around the NFL.

Ledyard’s Mock Draft 4.0 - Page 2 of 4 - The Draft Network

12. Denver Broncos Drew Lock, QB, Missouri John Elway shooting his shot! Lock will have the character and work ethic that Paxton Lynch never brought to the table, but this would be a risk that would terrify me as a Broncos fan. Lock’s accuracy and decision-making can be troubling at times, but he did show marked improvement over the last several weeks of the season in Derek Dooley’s offense.

-ICYMI-

Denver Broncos: 5 things we learned from loss to the Cleveland Browns - Mile High Report

After the Hamilton catch on 3rd down though, Musgrave went conservative with 3 straight runs. Joseph called for a field goal with 4:35 left on the clock to get the Broncos within 1 point. ...and Denver never scored again.

Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos final score: Mayfield smolders, but Chubb rocks it - Mile High Report

Lindsay entered this game with 970 yards, needing only 30 more to hit that elusive 1,000 yard mark. He would end the game with only 24 yards rushing.

Denver Broncos 5 winners, 3 losers in 17-16 loss to Cleveland Browns - Mile High Report

For the first time since Oct. 1990, the Cleveland Browns beat the Denver Broncos. Think about that. The last time the Broncos lost to Cleveland, Dan Reeves was the head coach. The result of Saturday’s 17-16 loss all but ends Denver’s season. The Broncos are now 6-8 on the season, and to avoid the first back-to-back losing seasons since 1971-72, they need to win both of the last two games.

Von Miller breaks Simon Fletcher’s all-time Denver Broncos sack record - Mile High Report

“I saw the video,” Miller said immediately after the 17-16 defeat to the Cleveland Browns. “Simon and I have been buddies for five or six years now. He drove all the way down from Wyoming to see it, so it was incredible to have that type of support from a Broncos legend. I’m really good friends with Simon and he’s always been positive, supportive and pushing me on to break it. Even when I had 30 sacks he was pushing me on. It’s a family over here and it’s an honor and a privilege for him to see me do it. He’s been an idol of mine for a long time and to break the record while he was here at home, it was good.”

Denver Broncos: Case Keenum and the offense has been figured out - Mile High Report

Stack the box and dare Case Keenum to beat you. That’s the recipe for success against the Denver Broncos in 2018. It’s the same recipe teams used against Trevor Siemian in the two seasons prior. And it’s working.

Fixing The Denver Broncos: 2019 Offseason Plan - The Draft Network

Let’s talk about how to fix this thing.

Lose Out

A look around the rest of the West

Kansas City Chiefs could clinch AFC West and a bye on Sunday - Arrowhead Pride

The Chiefs still control their own destiny in the postseason. With a win against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night — followed by a win against the Oakland Raiders the following Sunday — the Chiefs will win the AFC West and secure the number one seed in the postseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs will go as far as Patrick Mahomes can carry them

There’s been a lot of talk about the Kansas City Chiefs defense lately, but ultimately the fate of the Chiefs season rests on the arm of Patrick Mahomes.

Patrick Mahomes is reportedly planning a cereal called “Patty Flakes” - Arrowhead Pride

Patty Cakes didn’t necessarily stick, Mahomes and his people are hoping that Patty Flakes might. A Mahomes-themed cereal called Patty Flakes is in the works, according to AdAge.com.

Anthony Lynn has lifted the Chargers curse - Bolts From The Blue

“We needed a strong head coach to come in & make players take accountability for what they do, which there wasn’t enough of last year. I feel like if we had a coach, nothing against Mike McCoy, I just don’t think he had the voice to really get s--t.”

Chargers can no longer be overlooked as Super Bowl contender | News, Sports, Jobs - Minot Daily News

“This isn’t the same old Chargers,” safety Derwin James said after their third comeback win in the past four weeks.

Did the win over Chiefs solidify Chargers’ Anthony Lynn as Coach of the Year?

Their success has been accomplished without cornerback Jason Verrett, tight end Hunter Henry, linebacker Denzel Perryman, defensive Joey Bosa for half the season and running back Melvin Gordon for the most important game. When teams continue to win despite the injuries, that’s often a great reflection on the coach and his staff.

Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon expected to return in week 16 - Bolts From The Blue

Without Gordon, the Chargers initially turned to their RB2, Austin Ekeler, but then he, too, was lost to injury. In week 15, the Chargers offense had to rely on rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome. That collection of backs has helped fuel an offense that has averaged over 29 points per game.

Raiders’ Jon Gruden and Derek Carr react to loss | The Fresno Bee

“I want to keep battling,” Gruden said after the Raiders’ 30-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. “Keep playing. We’re in this game in the fourth quarter (Sunday) and we were one possession down. I want to see us finish with authority, with (as) much juice as we have and with (as) much heart and soul as we can showcase.”

The other NFL news worth knowing

What we learned from Sunday’s Week 15 games - NFL.com

Ben Roethlisberger outdueled Tom Brady on Sunday to help the Steelers snap a five-game skid against the Patriots. Here’s what else we learned from Sunday’s Week 15 games.

2018 NFL AFC, NFC playoff picture - Bracket, schedule, Super Bowl matchups through Week 15

If the regular season ended right now, here’s how the top six would look in each conference, plus clinching scenarios.

NFL Week 15: A Wild Ride Through the Playoff Picture | SI.com

He gets the matchup he wanted—the burner, Callaway, isolated on safety Justin Simmons—and the camera shows him smirking. The rest is academic.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles beat Los Angeles Rams

”Where we are right now, if we want to continue to play, we’ve got to go take it,” Jenkins said. “And so for us, it’s kind of that season where we’re going to go steal everything we’ve got. Whether it’s the ball, whether it’s the game, our chance to go play in the postseason, we’ve got to go take it.”

McVay on Rams’ woes: We’ve got to ‘figure it out fast’ - NFL.com

”Teams are doing different things to us,” Goff said when asked why L.A. is struggling on offense. “They’re trying out different things and we just need to find a way to respond.”

Nick Foles to start Week 16; Wentz won’t go on IR - NFL.com

”If we put him out there, there has to be 100 percent that there is no risk of anything further,” Pederson said Friday.

The NFL’s biggest surprises, and teams and players who could copy them in 2019

Cleveland will likely hire a new coach this offseason, although new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has been working wonders with Baker Mayfield since taking over, and general manager John Dorsey will have $80 million or so of cap space with which to work.

Logan Ryan will miss the rest of the season after breaking leg – ProFootballTalk

Ryan took pride in the fact he walked off the field with a broken leg, which is impressive.

Lamar Jackson running the ball more often than any other quarterback, ever – ProFootballTalk

There have been four games this season when a quarterback ran the ball 14 or more times, and Jackson was that quarterback all four times. Only one quarterback in NFL history has had four different games in one season when he ran the ball 14 or more times, and that was 1950 Steelers quarterback Joe Geri, who played in such a different era that he can barely even be described as a quarterback at all; he was more of a single wing tailback who functioned as his team’s primary runner, thrower, punter and kicker.

Shaquill Griffin takes issue with ‘terrible call’ that cost Seattle Seahawks in OT loss to San Francisco 49ers

”I kinda knew they was going to try to call a penalty on someone the way they were calling penalties on offense, and I made sure as soon as I seen the pass in the air that I wasn’t going to touch him or grab him,” Griffin said. “I was just going to stick my hand out, knock it down and roll over. That’s exactly what I did. When I stood up and looked at the [official], he looked at me and threw it. So it’s something I can’t take back, and it sucks the way it ended, but it was a terrible call.”

Studs & Duds: Upset City - The Draft Network

Moral victories are not the pathway to success in the NFL. So Coach Shanahan’s team would be wise to either play every game like it’s December or accept their roster needs some blue chip players.

Saints survive slugfest, crush Panthers’ playoff hopes - NFL.com

The New Orleans Saints (12-2) are one win away from securing home-field advantage after holding off the Carolina Panthers (6-8) on Monday night, 12-9, to close out Week 15.

Sean Payton, Drew Brees of New Orleans Saints now No. 2 in wins among coach/quarterback duos

Sean Payton and Drew Brees won their 117th regular-season game together Monday night, passing Don Shula and Dan Marino for second place among coach/QB combos during the Super Bowl era.

Report: Steve Wilks’ firing “seems a foregone conclusion” – ProFootballTalk

As the final Sunday of the regular season approaches, a team that saw its head coach retire a year ago could now have a vacancy arising in the more traditional way.

Rex Ryan Explains Patriots’ Troubles: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski ‘Older, Slower’ | New England Patriots | NESN.com

“If you look at Gronkowski, he’s running with a piano on his back. He’s not healthy. Tom (Brady), some of the throws we’ve seen, his feet aren’t even set. That is not the Tom Brady you’re used to seeing. To me, that is the thing. The rush is bothering him. … this team is older and slower and they are desperate for the (playoff) bye, and if they don’t get it, I think they are in trouble.”

Tom Brady on red-zone INT: ‘It shouldn’t happen’ - NFL.com

”I was trying to throw the ball away, and I didn’t,” he said, via NESN. “... I was just trying to flick it out of bounds. I didn’t want to take the sack. It shouldn’t happen.”

Closing the Books on a Snake Bit Season

”You are who your record says you are”.

Bears LT Charles Leno proposes to his girlfriend on field after clinching NFC North - NFL Videos

Minutes after the Bears clinched their first NFC North title since 2010, left tackle Charles Leno popped the question to his girlfriend, Jennifer Roth.

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen’s latest chapter is his best to date

Did the Broncos er in passing on Allen?