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Published on 12/30/2008 at Tue Dec 30 23:25.
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New York

Mike Shanahan congratulates Norv Turner, following the Broncos final loss under Shanahan.

Mike Shanahan congratulates Norv Turner, following the Broncos final loss under Shanahan.

I started this column yesterday, to address things that hadn’t really been touched on too much yet (Broncos 2009 schedule, #12 overall draft pick, again, maybe mentioning free agency)- then BANG! Like a misplaced shot from a current Vice President, former Wyomingite, to the face- Mike Shanahan is gone.

All because he refused to fire Bob Slowik, that Bob Slowik, ask a Green Bay Packers fan what their last season was like under Slowick or even look-up a Cleveland Browns fan, see what they tell you about him. This isn’t something that we shouldn’t have expected, the loss of Slowick. What was it in Shanahan that had him refuse an order from Pat Bowlen?

Was Shanahan trying to be fired? Does he have his aim at another coaching position- elsewhere in the NFL? College Football? Mind you that source is the same source that had Shanahan approaching a coaching vacancy with the Michigan Wolverines last summer. Shanahan is quite the chess player though and it’ll be interesting if he brings Slowick with him to the next job.

Maybe it was Bowlen playing chess, calling on Slowick to be fired and then hollering, “Checkmate!” as Shanahan walked himself into the bayonet. Maybe Bowlen had an ulterior motive. Fans are certainly praying that he does in fact have a plan- to this writer it seems as though this may not have been as much a calculated move as two old men pissing on each other.

There’s a story that I like to tell that I stole from a movie. In one of the former countries that used to form the U.S.S.R. a man has stepped down, to his successor he leaves one piece of advice.

“I’ve left you two envelopes, when you get in a situation that there is no solution to, open the first one. When you get into a second situation that there is no way out of, open the second one,” and he shakes his successor’s hand and leaves the room.

Years pass and the successor is in a situation that he cannot see a way out of, he remembers the letter and opens it.

‘Blame everything on me,’ the letter says.

So he does.

Not soon after, he arrives in yet another situation that he cannot see his way out of. Desperate, he must open the second envelope.

‘Write two letters and seal them in envelopes,’ and the successor does as he must.

So who will it be, who has got to pick up the pieces? Do the Broncos get to keep young Jeremy Bates? Is, “The most dangerous team in the AFC,” throwing up a Hail Mary for the honorable Bill Cowher? Maybe Denver targets a General Manager first and throw their hat in the ring for Scott Pioli from the New England Patriots. Should the Broncos go back to the Florida Gators well? Gary Kubiak’s out, but what about Kyle Shanahan? No, now I’m just getting carried away. Should Denver target a hotshot offensive guy or a stop them at all costs defensive coordinator?

We’ll know soon, but I can tell you this that Bowlen has picked the last three Denver coaches and they’ve been to a total of three Super Bowls. The team will be fine, don’t get too carried away hoping for a candidate, because most likely the Broncos won’t get who you’re thinking that they’re going to get. They’ve got to keep playing chess.

  • matthew

    I’m a big Broncos fan and want to see them bring in Mike Martz to ensure the offense stays strong….I want to see Romeo Crennel come in to be the D coordinator…..

  • Michael

    It’s a shame that embarrassment against the Chargers was Shanahans last game as our coach and that his last game against the Raiders was a loss, he deserved to go out on a better note then that. Say what you want about Shanahan and maybe it is the right time for a change but I don’t think I could name more then three coaches I’d rather have in charge of my team.

  • Paty

    Michael you took the words right out of my mouth.
    well said and baddd move Pat

  • Joe

    Let’s hope we DON’T bring in Mike Martz!!!!! He coulldn’t turn around the 49er’s offense what makes you think he will help our team??!!

  • Garrett Barnes

    I think that if we got Kyle Shanahan it would be like a puppet for Mike. Maybe it is Pat Bowlens way of keeping Shanahan but making Shanahan haters happy.

  • jchase8410

    Bowlen needs to hire a proven, legitimate General Manager to be put in charge of personnel. Allow him to pick his coaching staff to go along with his philosophy. I disagree with those of you who keep saying we need a defensive minded head coach…We need a good offensive minded head coach to work with the myriad of potential superstars on the Broncos offense, and bring in a true DC to run the defense. Whoever the next coach is needs to be willing to let the DC do his job. The Broncos still have potential to field a good team next season with all of these things, and a solid defensive draft. I am optimistic about this change, as I feel Denver’s fans (including myself) have gotten complacent in our “next year” view on the team.
    If you disagree with my comment, I would like to hear a good reason, but everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

  • Dakota fan

    Dude, I gotta go to bed, but I just can’t STOP!!!!

    JChase- I agree on having grown complacent with our traditional “next year” team view, but unfortunately, that’s all we have to go by right now.

    Did you listen to Cutler’s comments today? I’m worried that he’s about to become an even bigger target than he already is by the same fans who called Shanahan such an idiot. What was Cutler supposed to say about the guy who drafted him and made him into a Pro Bowl player in his second full season? Thank God he’s gone??? He found out about this on ESPN today, the same way we all did. I’m hoping that whoever Bowlen brings in can form a tight relationship with Cutler, because right now, Cutler’s not too keen on the guy who signs his checks.

    I hope this doesn’t derail Cutler’s development. Think John Hickenlooper has a hard job in Denver? That’s NOTHING compared to the pressure of Cutler’s job (sorry, Mr. Mayor). Cutler can’t win for losing- now he’s too pouty after an incompletion or too quick to pass blame after a drop when saying “Catch the F***ing ball, Eddie!!” Last year, he didn’t have enough fire according to those same fans.

    Oh well. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Time for bed.

    Remember the ultimate Broncos’ fan creed: “QUESTION MY SANITY, BUT DON’T QUESTION MY LOYALTY.”

  • jchase8410

    Absolutely Dakota fan. I have had Cutler’s back from day one, even though I did have a laugh when they made fun of him on South Park.

    Is he not supposed to be upset when he is forced into a situation where the whole team relies on him to make a play because the defense can’t stop anything, and someone intercepts his pass? Is he not supposed to be upset when good passes get dropped by his receivers? I think that he handles himself really well given the situation.

    As for his comments to the media…can you really blame the guy for being upset about Shanahan’s firing? It was unexpected by all of us, how much more unexpected was it to those close to him? The most blown out of proportion comment of the year was the “stronger arm than Elway” comment said informally to a few reporters. Cutler was asked if he thought he had a stronger arm, not like he brought it up. Was he supposed to show a lack of confidence in himself by saying no?

    Cutler should be just fine in the future with the Broncos if they follow my plan and get another offensive genious to work with him. He has to understand that this is a business in the end, and the decisions an owner makes about his investment are not personal.

    I look forward to hearing Mike and Pat’s comments at their press conference tomorrow morning.

  • dbroncos

    What are the chances we pursue Steve Spagnuola (i think i spelled his name right)?

    It seems he would be the best choice to me, since i believe he runs the 4-3 defense and we could just get the players with less adjustment to the guys that stay.

    If you guys have any links/sources/etc. i would appreciate it.

  • flbronc

    michael- that’s what evreybody i talk to is saying

    joe- different situation with martz in den and sf. here he would have offensive weapons. there he had the equivelant of inheriting our current defense. i’d be ok if he were our oc. look what he did with the rams- they hung 40 on just about everybody they played.

  • Anthony33

    If you are not kidding then you need to put the bottle down.

    Have you looked at Crennel and Martzs’ records since leaving Belichick and Vermeil??? Crennel’s defense in Cleveland is almost as bad as ours for the past 4 years and Martz has been a failure everywhere he’s been.

    They need to start with Pioli.
    Keep the entire offensive staff (Dennison and Bates must stay or we’re doomed).
    Fire the entire defensive staff
    Then hire a head coach (maybe Dennison)

  • Alan

    Very diappointed in the Broncos stupidity in letting Mike go. The Broncos are a very young team and firing one of the best coaches in Pro football is unreal. What are you thinking ? I have been a Bronco fan since 1965 when I lived and grew up in Denver. I have moved away since and this is the year for change so to speak, so I think its time to change too Go Colts !!! Anyone want a nice leather Denver Bronco jacket ?

  • 96isgone

    Where to start,,,,where to start…….

    At the beggining of this season I posted what my outook of the donkey’s season was: I predicted 6-10 or 7-9. And if not for 2 gifts (Hochuli and a field goal), I was right on target….. Privately, I predicted to my football watching buddies that Bowlen would finally have had enough and Shanahan would get fired: Nailed it!

    A few of the comments to my predictions, and some comments back at them:

    Patrick: We won’t be ranked (in regards to the defense) 22nd at he end of the season you can bet your sweet ass on that one!”…..absolutely correct!!!! They ended up ranked 29th!!!

    socal denfan: “….the boys will do some great thing this year. I look for Cutler to take that next step and become that top 5 QB”…….. Well, yes they did do some “great thing“! One of the biggest collapses in the history of the league. No other team in the history of the league led their divison from start to finish, only to lose the last game of the year and finish out of the playoffs. And in, arguably, the worst division in the league this year! And as for Cutler, nice stats. Mostly cause they had to pass all the time. But as for a top 5 QB, debatable, and I don’t think so. Constantly forces passes, resulting in way too many interceptions. Terrible leader, demeanor every time a play went wrong was horrible (throwing the ball away pissed off, etc, etc). He’s a punk…..

    body2669: “I find your summary at the least pessimistic……MY PREDICTION 11-5 OR 10-6”….. I’m assuming you also predicted Shanahan would be “coach for life” too?

    Person: “the safteys (sic) are untested?…..the line backing crew may have some questions but nothing to rock the boat over. Webster may not be the best LB but his natural position is the MIKE and he will uphold”…. Like I originally said, the safeties weren’t NFL caliber (let alone playoff team caliber), and they proved it. I called the linebackers a below average group, and they were. And Webster’s “natural position” this year was either attached to yet another offensive lineman whose block he couldn’t get off of, or on his back as yet another running back ran over him.

    As for some of the comments in this thread: Alan, “stupidity for letting Mike (Shanahan) go“ ???? Exactly how many more years of mediocrity and just missing it did you want Alan? Or should I have said “decades”? In the last 10 years the team is 1-4 in the playoffs. The draft classes until the last couple of years have been the worst in the NFL. The free agents haven’t been forgetable only because they are usually in the papers for some sort of criminal activity (oh, the hypocrisy of the “character” nonsense Shanahan used to spout). The defense has been so woefully inept for the past several years, that they couldn’t even decide “what” to play, let alone whom…..And changing coordinators did nothing to improve the performance, so exactly, who is responsible for how bad they perform year in and year out? Shanahan…..
    But my fav is Dakota Fans’ “Remember the ultimate Broncos’ fan creed: “QUESTION MY SANITY, BUT DON’T QUESTION MY LOYALTY.”….. Ok, you’re insane for the loyalty?

  • Dakota fan

    Alan- if it’s size XL or larger, I’ll send you my address and you can send me the jacket. As long as there’s a Denver Broncos football team, I’ll be a fan. But then again, I’ve only been a fan since 1977, so you have more experience than me.

    But seriously- like I said on another strand yesterday, it’s hard to just jump on the bandwagon and say, “YEAH, FIRE HIS ASS!!” I supported Shanahan through thick and thin and owe a debt of gratitude to him. I was a 25 year old grown man when the Broncos won their first Super Bowl and I cried (briefly) over something I’d waited so long to see, so it’s hard for TRUE Broncos fans to not miss a guy like Shanahan.

  • Patrick

    Hey man I’m the one who predicts the Broncos are going 16-0 every year can’t fault a kid for being optimistic! I admit it I’ve been drunk off Mike Shanahan kool-aid for the last fifteen years. When the Broncos looked good I sang his praises, when they looked bad I made excuses for him. I supported the Broncos and supported the man who brought them two Super Bowls. Yesterday I recieved numerous texts from people who hardly know anything about football checking on my conditi0n saying they were just as shocked as I was. I’m with Dakota Fan when he said this was our last link to the glory years. When people asked me why I was a Broncos fan, it goes John Elway, and Mike Shanahan. (I’m young anything else is before my time.) Why are you a Broncos fan now? I am because I’ve already invested 15 years, countless hours, thousands of dollars in memorabilia and merchandise decorating myself as a blue and orange ornament in hopes that it brings my team luck. I will love Mike Shanahan for everything he has done for this organization, wish him the best like we did Gary Kubiak, but if he ends up in division I’ll hate him with the fire of a thousand Hell’s. I have nightmares of Shanahan running the Chargers and spanking us like he did the Raiders. I support and will get plastered off of whatever kool-aid the new coach is selling but this should be an understandably hardtime so some Broncos fan. Shanafans and Shanahaters, Broncos fans the same. Go Broncos.

    (My sinking sensation is Jeremy Bates is going to be our coach.)

  • Anthony33

    If Bowlen is able to get Spioli before the Browns do, here is something to at least consider.

    Follow the Steelers model and hire from within.

    Make Rick Dennison the head coach. WHAT…you say what??
    – he knows the offense and has done a great job picking up where Gibbs left with the O line.
    – he is home grown
    – he is smart
    – he knows defense (orange crush, remember them)
    – he has several years of coaching experience under his belt
    – he wouldn’t be expensive

    Make Bates the ‘full meal deal’ offensive coordinator

    Spioli can then focus his attention on finding the right defensive coordiator and stocking him up with some decent talent. Not to mention rebuilding the front office and scouting department.

  • kerry

    ok everybody, lets all get a grip. of ciurse Bowlen has a plan. he wants to hire a GM first then get a coach. he wont hire a coach who has to have control over everything. that will be just like Shanahan. so that eliminates Parcells and Cowher. id like Scott Pioli as Gm to be followed by Steve Spagnuolo as head coach. but i guarentee it will all happen soon. within the next couple days in thinking.

  • Jordan C

    Although I don’t know much about Dennison, I like the idea of him becoming the head coach for the reasons listed above. Also, Bill Williamson is suggesting that Bob Stoops of OU might be a candidate. Bringing college coaches to the NFL is always as risk, but it’s an interesting idea.

  • rcsodak

    96isgone:maybe you should be as well? What’s keeping you around? Or are you just one of those guys that keeps repeating year-in and year-out how the team is going to suck, hoping for that day when it happens, and your wishes come true?
    You do realize, don’t you, that there are 31 other teams trying to beat each others’ brains out, right?
    Of the 32 teams in the NFL, during Shanny’s tenure, how many can you name that have scored as many points/made as many yards/won as many games?
    Shanny is too well respected by EVERY coach in the league, bar none. Ask Belicek who his toughest opponent has been – it’s Shanny, who, last checked, is the only coach to have a winning record against him. If I’m off, shoot me.
    The only way you’ll be happy is to quit watching this sport, that you so hate. That’s the only thing I take out of your entire drivel-riddled post.

  • tojohnson63

    We have way to many talented players on this team to be playing as in consitantly as we have been. Folks, that’s coaching! I am surprised it took Pat this long, but then again, look how long he held on to Dan.
    Dan: Never being able to win the big game, never giving John all the tools he needed. John would have 5 superbowl rings if Dan would have gotten him some better offensive weapons. Mike did do that for us. He’s changed now, and that has effected this team and how it works. Now we need to change. Mike gave us many great year, but of late they have been few and far between. We need some new blood.

    Bill Cowher anyone?

  • Garrett Barnes

    kerry i think you and me finally agree on something and that is who should replace shanahan. spags and pioli would be great options and a step in the right direction for the franchise. i just question if spags would be willing to step into the shoes of such an iconic figure like shanahan.

  • rcsodak

    Stoops isn’t leaving OU. How many times does a man have to make a statement, to be believed?
    Cowher doesn’t want full reign. He’s already told others that he wants to have a say in the GM. Plus, he’s said he’s not coaching in ’09.
    The guys on Sirius, this am, think because of the $20+mill that is owed to Shanny, that Bowlen might be forced to bring in an unproven HC, ala Kiffen. Shanny wasn’t a HC, nor was Bum’s kid, nor was Fassel. I just hope Pat looks at the core of this team, and realizes that it’s ready to win NOW, offensively. That Bates has a good relationship with Cutler, and starting over with someone else will set the kid back. That there are ‘hopefuls’ for the stud-buffalo RB, and an above average receiving corp. That the Oline is making a name for themselves. I hope he brings in someone that will harden a soft D. Offensive HC’s tend to not do that, imo.

  • FamilyForce6

    While I understand some of the posters’ comments lamenting the loss of Shanny, it was time for him to go. I think some of the local sports media got it right, Shanny the GM wasn’t getting it done. The last few years reminded me of the last few years of Reeves’ tenure- overly controlling of every aspect of the team, resulting in loss of ingenuity that characterized his first 7-10 years as head coach of the team. I think this move is good for both the broncos and Shanny. I admire Bowlen for putting the organization ahead of any single individual and making a tough choice.
    I would be surprised if Mike doesn’t have a new job by the end of next month, he’s too driven to take an entire year off coaching- once that happens the Broncs are off the hook for his salary, so I think his contract will be a non-issue. Even so, I agree that Pat will look to a young, 1st time head coach and a strong/accomplished GM. But who knows, its all speculation now, we’ll see the “plan” soon enough. Looking forward to a revitalized organization!

  • Joe

    None of thats true. He addressed in the the conference today. And also, Adam of said that none of that is true and its all crap. I hope we get Cowher. But shit man, I’m gonna miss Shanahan

  • 96isgone

    rcsodak said “96isgone:maybe you should be as well? What’s keeping you around? Or are you just one of those guys that keeps repeating year-in and year-out how the team is going to suck, hoping for that day when it happens, and your wishes come true?”

    You couldn’t be more out in space. I want a winner here in Denver! I used to hype this team like a madman since a couple of season before the super bowl wins. Since Terrel Davis made us all take notice with that incredible special teams hit he made in the preseason in his rookie year, and began running like the 2nd coming of Jim Brown. But as I said in this preseason, I don’t just root for the donkeys cause I live in Denver. I rooted for them heartily once because they were compelling. In a good way. Unlike the train wreck they’ve become over the past 10 seasons.

    You said; “Of the 32 teams in the NFL, during Shanny’s tenure, how many can you name that have scored as many points/made as many yards/won as many games?”

    Are you serious? That delusional about what makes a team good? Who in the hell cares about yards and points, when 7 of the last 10 years they don’t make the playoffs, and when they do make the playoffs they are 1-4? One win and FOUR friggin’ LOSES!!!

    To say that Shanahan is respected by all the other coaches, that’s nice. But frankly, I could care less about that. I want the team to be compelling, win, and run deep in the playoffs. Look at all the teams that turned it around in a couple of years. You think all the other coaches are respecting him for what he’s done for the last 10 years? Maybe cause he’s been able to keep his job at the rediculous salary for the 10 years while having a team that is consistently below mediocre…….

    You said: “The only way you’ll be happy is to quit watching this sport, that you so hate. That’s the only thing I take out of your entire drivel-riddled post.”

    I looooove football. I played it in High school (captain of my team), walked on at college for a year (knowing full well that I was so untalented that all I would ever get to do was run down on kickoffs), and played competitive flag ball until my body finally gave out. I coached a freshman highschool teams D-line for a year, until my job wouldn’t allow it. I love football. I watch college and pro ball almost every weekend that it’s in season. What I don’t love is losing year after year after year,,,,and listening to the fanatics say how much they love the team, using the tired old cliche of “love it ofr leave it”, without enough sense of self pride to say “enough is enough” and get rid of the bum who’s had the team in the toilet for 10 years!!! Exactly what had shanahan done lately that made you think he even remotely had the team on the right track to make it a winner? As for if it’s “drivel ridden”, that’s for whoever wants to read it to decide. But, as you can tell if you’re reading any other posts here or anywhere, or listening to the talk, it appears that alot of other people final awoke from the kool-aid induced haze and realized the emporer has had no clothes for quite some time. Good riddance to him……

  • Paty

    I don’t care what anybody says Shannahan is a dam good coach and Pat Bowlen sucks

  • david45

    i was surpised about this choice. this will really imact the team. mike was the coach for 14 years. i just hope this mew coach is about 10 percent of mike. this is going to be a tough new season. hopfly this coach gives 110 percent