As of Tuesday, 12/30/08, my beloved Denver Broncos have entered into a situation they have not faced in 14 years. As most sports fans know by now, Mr. Bowlen has decided that Mike Shanahan will be relieved of his duties, and a new coach and GM would be sought.
It's been quite a while since we faced this condition. The stability of the coaching position in Denver for almost 30 years has been one of the reasons for their success, after an extremely horrid beginning.
Since 1977, only four men have coached the Broncos: Red Miller, Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips, and Shanahan. Phillips has the shortest tenure in that group (two years), while Shanahan has the longest (14 years).
In that group, you find some wonderful positives for the franchise: the first playoffs and Super Bowl under Miller; the extraordinary trade and career of John Elway; frustrating Super Bowl losses under Reeves; a lesson in mediocrity under Phillips; the horrible depression after the loss to Jacksonville in '96 under Shanahan; and the unbridled joy of back-to-back Super Bowl wins under Shanahan.
In 31 seasons, only four coaches. With the exception of Coach Phillips, I believe that each of those men moved the Broncos ahead significantly from where they had been.
I hope Mr. Bowlen won't be rash or quick to jump on a career coordinator type (Gilbride, Henning, Phillips, etc.), and will find a coach with a proven record, or one whose potential is huge, and has the thought process to back that up.
Bowing to the NFL's policy of at least considering minority candidates for head coaching positions, as a fan I don't think I'd have any problem with serious consideration being given to Ty Willingham, who certainly would hit the ground running if he were hired.
Whoever gets the job, I'm hopeful they'll remember that they have a strong fan base, and a remarkably good young offense to work with. Our woeful defense needs help, and lots of it.
Take your time, Mr. Bowlen, and pick the right man for the job. We'll be rooting for you.