Well... Pat Bowlen did it. He fired Mike Shanahan. I can't even begin to tell you how shocking this is to this Broncos die-hard. I can't say that I'm disappointed, but I also can't say that I'm happy about it. There have been plenty of people in Denver that have been calling for Shanny's head over the past two years, but we all just assumed that he had a lifetime contract. I can't imagine how difficult this was for Pat Bowlen. He and Mike Shanahan are very close, and Shanny finally brought Bowlen the Lombardi Trophy. Twice. This may be the biggest news day in Denver sports since... Well, since Dan Reeves was fired as the Broncos coach.
Shanahan was great for the Broncos. There's no doubting that. In total, he has given 21 years to the organization as an assistant coach, head coach, and executive vice president. It wouldn't surprise me to see him move to the Broncos' front office eventually, especially with his brand new $35 million mansion that was completed last summer, but it won't be this offseason. I've been wrong before, though. Just two days ago, I said that Shanahan wouldn't be fired. I was completely shocked by this. I honestly would be surprised if Shanahan was coaching in the NFL next season. He's not going to go to the Jets, Browns, or Lions, although I wouldn't be completely surprised if he went to the Jets. There's a lot going through my mind about this, but mostly, I'm just incredibly surprised. I hope that they go for a defensive-minded coach and keep Jeremy Bates on as the offensive coordinator. I also hope that Bowlen doesn't give a coach complete control. The Broncos need a GM to make personnel decisions. Let's look at a few possible replacements.
Steve Spagnuolo, New York Giants Defensive Coordinator
This is the guy that I would like to see come in. For some reason, I'm not really into the "recycled coaches". Spagnoulo is as hot a commodity as there is amongst the coordinator ranks. He is the best defensive coordinator in the NFL, and he will get a shot as a head coach. I hope that Bowlen will take a look at him.
Fassel is an interesting one. He has ties to Denver, as he did serve as the Broncos offensive coordinator from 1993-1995. He has said that he wants to be a head coach next year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Broncos take a run at him.
You knew we had to talk about Cowher. In all honesty, I'm not as big on Cowher as most are. One problem is that he would want full control, and I don't think that's a good thing. I doubt that Cowher will be coaching next year, but I'd rather it not be in Denver.
Who knows what the future holds? If I had to guess, I'd say that Pat Bowlen already has a candidate in mind. If Jack Del Rio gets fired in Jacksonville, he's another one that I wouldn't mind seeing. It'll be interesting to see what the next few days hold, but Mike Shanahan will land on his feet. Thanks for the memories, Mike, and good luck to you!