Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins: Can He Win without John Elway?

Adam HankinsCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2010

ASHBURN,VA - JANUARY 06:  Mike Shanahan speaks at a press conference introducing him as the new Executive Vice President and Head Coach of the Washington Redskins to the media on January 6, 2010 at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The question that has been put forth ever since Mike Shanahan's name was mentioned in connection with the Redskins coaching job.

Can he win without a Hall of Fame quarterback?

Most critics of Shanahan believe he cannot win without an Elway-type quarterback to lead his team. In fact, a lot of these same critics will attribute all of his success to Elway, rather than to his coaching abilities.

Another question should logically follow all of the doubts about Shanahan. Who can win on a consistent basis without an elite quarterback?

Bill Belichick was considered a failure by most after four losing seasons (out of five) with the Cleveland Browns. Then, he came to the Patriots, won three Super Bowls, and is now considered by many to be among the best coaches in the league.

So, what happened? How did Belichick go from goat to genius? It's simple: Tom Brady. An elite quarterback can make any coach look good.

This begs for the same question that's asked of Mike Shanahan. Can Bill Belichick win without a Hall of Fame quarterback?

There are plenty of these examples. How many Super Bowls did Bill Cowher win without Ben Roethlisberger? Zero. How many Super Bowls did Tony Dungy win without Peyton Manning? Zero. How many Super Bowls did Jimmy Johnson win without Troy Aikman? Zero. 

These questions go far beyond only Super Bowl wins. Winning on a consistent basis in the NFL requires an elite quarterback.

For example, how good of a coach did most people consider Norv Turner to be before he came to the San Diego Chargers? Most critics thought he was a complete failure, until he started winning with a team with an elite quarterback (Phillip Rivers).

The critics who now question Mike Shanahan's ability to win without John Elway are being completely unfair. NO coach in the NFL can win (consistently, season after season) without an above-average quarterback.

If these critics want to downplay Shanahan's part in winning two Super Bowls with the Broncos, they must do the same to a lot of other supposedly "great" coaches.

Mike Shanahan is as good as anyone in the coaching business, but to restore the Washington Redskins to perennial-contender status, he will have to find a franchise quarterback.

That's why, in the first round of the 2010 draft, look for Mike Shanahan to pick either Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen. 

Regardless of the price teams have to pay to find elite quarterbacks, the rewards of winning consistently are worth it. Quarterbacks are the most valuable players in the game, and the keys to year-after-year success.