Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan Fired, GM Mike Shanahan To Blame

Sean CroweSenior Writer IDecember 30, 2008

The Broncos shocked just about everyone on Tuesday when they fired Mike Shanahan.

Shanahan’s teams had missed the playoffs three years in a row. His defenses have been atrocious for the past few years.

The 52-21 beating he took at the hands of the Charges, in what was basically a playoff game, was apparently the final straw for Broncos’ ownership.

In retrospect, I’m not sure we should be all that surprised.

How many head coaches could survive blowing a three game lead with three games left in the season? How many head coaches could survive missing the playoffs three years in a row? How many head coaches could survive one playoff win in a decade?

Shanahan built a solid reputation in Denver on the backs of John Elway and Terrell Davis. When he lost his players, he lost his ability to win big games.

Shanahan’s post-Elway playoff record is well documented.

The thing is, I’m not sure Shanahan the head coach deserved to be fired. He got as much out of his players as anyone could have gotten.

I mean, it’s not like the guy forgot how to coach. Bill Belichick raves about Shanahan, calling him an offensive genius.

Shanahan the GM—now that’s another story.

Shanahan the GM thought Brian Griese and Jake Plummer were both the next John Elway. He was a guy who looked at the pathetic defensive line of the Cleveland Browns and thought they’d somehow learn not to be fat and lazy in Denver.

He’s the guy who has yet to figure out how to find good defensive talent. He’s a guy who hasn’t put together a defense that can stop a running game in years.

He’s the guy who should have been fired.

If coach Shanahan needs someone to blame for the way it all ended in Denver, he should look no further than GM Shanahan.

Coach Shanahan will be a sought after free agent, given all the openings. The New York Jets will likely be interested. So will the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.

I have no inside sources. I’m just assuming that any smart owner or GM would be glad to have a head coach like Shanahan.

Wait, maybe the Lions won’t be interested…

Mike Shanahan is a fantastic coach. If he lands somewhere under a good GM, he’ll be successful. He just needed to get the heck away from Mike Shanahan the GM.

Sean Crowe covers the Patriots-Examiner">New England Patriots for and writes a bi-weekly column for

He is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at His archive can be found here.