For anyone watching the Chargers' dismantling of the Broncos, one thing is undeniable. Mike Shanahan has officially exceeded his shelf life in Denver. Typically, I have a philosophy when it comes to replacing coaches, regardless of the sport: if you feel like it's time to fire your coach, you better be able to name at least a few AVAILABLE alternatives who would be better than who wears your team's headset.
As fans, we are guilty of always believing that our team is better than what it's showing, and a different face, voice, message or name is all that's needed to make a Dolphin-esque change the following year. This is usually shortsighted, and often leaves the team in worse shape than it was before.
In the case of the Broncos, the change has been a long time coming. There are many things outside of a coach's control that often impact the outcome of a game or season: injuries, player mistakes and bad rosters are but a few. Have the Broncos had their share of injuries? How about 7 RBs on IR, Champ Bailey missing 7 weeks with a strained groin and 3 weeks that the defense didn't have a single starting LB that was any higher than 3rd on the depth chart week 1. Have the players made costly mistakes? Brandon Marshall had 102 catches at the time of this blog, he also has 18 drops on catchable balls, tops in the league according to Al Michaels. Bad roster? The Broncos are where Browns and Lions go when they can't make the roster in Cleveland or Detroit...
So why does Pat Bowlen need to close the Shanahan chapter in Denver. Simply put, the team has now quit on Shanhan two years in a row. When a coach can no longer draw the best out of his players, the time has come. This year's edition of the Broncos frequently looked overmatched, outcoached, timid and unable to compete.
Shanahan has essentially had unfettered control over personnel decisions in Denver for years despite not holding the GM title. His draft day decisions have typically been sound although he's made some dubious picks in recent years, but it's been his decision making in the free agent market that has ultimately resulted in the erosion of the team.
Bronco fans will always be appreciative of what Shanahan has accomplished and brough to the city of Denver, but eventually all things must change, and the time has come.