I have been a Broncos fan for nearly twenty-two of my thirty-one years, and Mike Shanahan has been the HC for the last fourteen. Perhaps this is not a good thing, but since John Elway's retirement, Mike Shanahan has been the identity of the Denver Broncos. Hopefully, it will soon be Jay Cutler. That remains to be seen, but obviously things are pointed in that direction and it cannot happen soon enough. I am, like everyone else here, a Broncos fan through-and-through and will remain so for the remainder of my years. I will always root for Mike Shanahan, although that statement will clearly be tested if he were to find employment with the Chiefs, Chargers, Jets or Cowboys. But that's for another day. This has been quite a shocking eighteen hours for me, starting with my brother-in-law's text message "Didn't really see that move coming." I am still shell-shocked, I cannot imagine Denver Broncos Football without Mike Shanahan roaming the sideline, and I am still angry. I awoke this morning hoping to find it was all a dream, but of course that never happens. All that said, here are the things I will miss about Mike Shanahan...
- I will miss the Shanahan Death Stare. It surely followed every poor referee's call and every fumble by the hands of a Broncos offensive player. Once a running back met that glare, he was riding the bench for the rest of the game, and more times than not, his career in blue and orange was soon to be over.
- I will miss the Shanahan running game. No, you cannot plug any running back into Shanny's offense and expect great things. Shanny and Bobby Turner found the players who they knew would succeed in their offense, and usually those players cost no more than a mid-to-late-round draft choice.
- I will miss the scripted 15. We always knew that the Broncos would come out firing, and that they would have the other team on their heels for the entirety of the first quarter of each and every game. Perhaps that had been less the case in recent years, but adding a running back this off-season was likely to remedy those failings.
- I will miss Shanny's guts. Mike Shanahan hates to punt. He is a gambler. That's not to say he goes for it on 4th down all the time (rarely this season), but I can honestly say that he always went for it when it made sense. There have not been very many times over the past fourteen years where I disagreed with Shanahan's 4th-down decisions. Obviously, my personal feelings in no way validate Shanny's choices, but I am glad to say we always had a coach who wasn't afraid to go for it. Part of that is his moxie, and perhaps part of it was his job security. Either way, I loved it. Who else in the NFL would have gone for the 2-pointer at the end of the San Diego game?
- I will miss Shanahan's killer instinct. One of the best feelings as a Broncos fan has been this...seeing 3rd-and-1 up on the board and knowing that it wasn't usually going to be a QB-sneak or just a RB diving over the top. Sometimes those plays work, but oftentimes they do not. Getting nine yards on 3rd-and-1 after a pitch play left to the HB or fifteen-plus on a play-action over the top to a wide-open receiver are Shanahan staples.
- I will miss Shanny's turning water into wine. Think about the following late-round picks, street free-agents and other people's garbage...Ed McCaffrey, Rod Smith, Terrell Davis, Byron Chamberlain, Billy Miller, Desmond Clark, Mike Anderson, Chris Myers, Peyton Hillis,Reuben Droughns, Darrien Gordon, Mark Schlereth and Maa Tanuvasa among others.
And, here are a few things I will NOT miss about Mike Shanahan...
- Hot starts and cold finishes. Unfortunately, this was something that occurred not only within games, but also within seasons. How many 13-0 leads have been blown in recent years, and how many 4-0 or 6-1 starts have fizzled into first-round failures or not even making the playoffs at all?
- Shanny the GM. Obviously, this is already being hashed and re-hashed countless times and it will be ad nauseum. But I am glad to put the following folks behind us...Dale Carter, Daryl Gardener, Ashley Lelie, Willie Middlebrooks, Deltha O'Neal, Maurice Clarett, Paul Toviessi, Marcus Nash, Mark Campbell, Chris Watson, Chris Cole, Dorsett Davis, Terry Pierce, George Foster, Jeremy LeSueur and Darius Watts. There are also the ones that got away, like Trevor Pryce, Reggie Hayward and Domenik Hixon. But the former certainly outnumber the latter.
Just finished watching the press conference. Which reminds me, I will miss watching Shanny's pressers and it will be beyond strange to see someone else occupying his spot behind the podium or on the sideline. That will be bizarre to say the least. I must admit, I got a little choked up myself along with Shanny when he started talking about Pat Bowlen.
Thanks to Mike Shanahan for all that he brought to the Denver Broncos and us, the fans. Without Shanny, we may still be hoping for that first championship. Instead, we are seeking our third. There is no coach I would trade him for, unfortunately Pat Bowlen doesn't feel the same way. But Mr. Bowlen is a smart man and the finest of owners. I think he will do the right thing. It's too bad Shanny won't get to share the spoils of a championship with Jay Cutler. It's obvious from his comments that he feels the same way.
Thanks for everything, Shanny. We miss you already.