|12-16-2007, 10:02 AM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Oct 2001
KRIEGER: Dreary season belongs to Shanahan
If Mike Shanahan had just gone along when I asked him a few weeks back if he was rebuilding, he'd have no problem now.
If the Broncos finish with a losing record, it will be just the second time in Shanahan's 13 seasons as head coach. The first was in 1999, the year after back-to-back Super Bowl rings.
Frankly, it takes a certain failure of perspective to demand the head of an NFL coach who wins over 60 percent of his games and has a losing season once every eight years, especially if those are obviously rebuilding years.
But because Shanahan vehemently denied he was rebuilding, because he insisted he was coaching and running the front office to win this year, he does have some 'splaining to do.
How did it go so badly off the tracks? And don't give me injuries. Check out the Texans' injured list, then look at Thursday's final score.
For the first time in a long time, it's not just Shanahan the executive vice president of football operations that needs to be accountable. It's also Shanahan the coach.
But let's start with the executive vice president because this is Shanahan's most obvious and longstanding vulnerability.
As my colleague Jeff Legwold has pointed out, one player - D.J. Williams - remains on the roster from the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Broncos drafts.
Now, Shanahan could certainly argue that Champ Bailey, acquired for Clinton Portis, and Dre Bly, acquired for George Foster and Tatum Bell, ought to qualify as products of those drafts, so let's give him those, too.
Three players from the three drafts that should now be the guts of this football team - that's not very good. In fact, it's lousy. If I were Pat Bowlen and I had not already committed to Shanahan for life, I would have looked to separate my coach from my personnel operation - or at least "help" him there - some time ago.
On the other hand, if I were Bowlen and I had done nothing, I would note that Shanahan's 2006 draft looks outstanding 20 months later. His top four picks that year were Jay Cutler, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil. That's basically the Broncos' young nucleus.
Shanahan's brand of brutal honesty has allowed him to avoid a number of typical coaching traps. He has not surrounded himself with cronies, for instance. In fact, you could argue he has been too hard on his defensive coaches, resulting in this year's disaster on that side of the ball, which I'll get to in a minute.
He has not grown more conservative with age. I know some fans think he has, but I see no sign of it. I think he has been protective of Jay Cutler in his play calling, but that's a different issue. It stems, I think, in part from his experience with John Elway and in part from a lack of confidence in the pass protection afforded by a young offensive line.
But Shanahan's trademark brutal honesty is nowhere to be found in his self-evaluation as a personnel man. If he did not control the front office, if an independent general manager had provided him with the current cast, I have no doubt Shanahan would be privately critical of that general manager's work.
As it is, the titles at Dove Valley are almost Orwellian. Ted Sundquist is GM, but Shanahan has the final say on personnel. Rick Dennison is offensive coordinator, but Shanahan and Mike Heimerdinger call the plays. Bob Slowik is defensive coordinator, but the scheme was Jim Bates' (although Slowik's influence has grown as Bates' has waned).
This year, for the first time, the same trait that hurts Shanahan on the personnel side hurt him on the coaching side. Let's call it risk-taking. The draft rewards grinders who get value out of every pick. Shanahan is always swinging for the fences.
As a result, he strikes out more than he should. Maurice Clarett would be an example.
Shanahan drafted 20 players in '03 and '04. One remains; two if you give him Bly.
As a coach, swinging for the fences caused him to overhaul a defense that finished eighth in points allowed last season. He fired the coordinator, the line coach and the linebackers coach. He went along with personnel changes to match his new scheme.
As a result, his defense now ranks 30th in points allowed. It's awful. And somebody needs to ask: How did this happen? That's called accountability, and if Bowlen doesn't demand at least that, he's nothing more than a figurehead.
A couple more drafts like '06, and the Broncos will be back where they want to be. A couple more like '03 and their record this year will look good by comparison.
Either way, there's no question where the buck stops. Mike Shanahan picked these players. Mike Shanahan picked these coaches.
They had the ability to win right now. That's what he said.
Somewhere, even if it's only in front of the mirror, the man in charge needs to account for the difference between the expectation and the reality.
|12-16-2007, 02:51 PM||#4|
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Tampa Bay
Pretty lame and deceiving article. Send this one to the butt!
|12-16-2007, 03:47 PM||#9|
Join Date: Aug 2006
Here is the thing. YES shanny had terrible drafts in 2002-2004. However why fix a problem that is already fixed? 2005-2007 he had very good drafts and value picks.