The Denver Broncos reportedly were very close to replacing Vance Joseph with Mike Shanahan prior to the 2018 season. What happened?
A report from Woody Paige has sent all of Denver Broncos Country into a fritz on Monday morning.
As the photo implies, the ‘secret meeting’ Page speaks of (subscription required) was between John Elway and former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. Together as head coach and quarterback, Shanahan and Elway delivered the Broncos their first and second championships in team history.
There have been rumors throughout the years that Elway and Shanahan’s relationship had soured, which this article touches on, but this report pieces a lot of different things together. It also has a nugget that will drive Broncos fans crazy, perhaps even to the point of hatred towards Joe Ellis.
According to Paige, Ellis (the Broncos’ President and CEO) blocked a potential move by Elway to hire Shanahan as head coach, and Shanahan had previous discussions with Kirk Cousins, who reportedly said he would come to play for Shanahan in Denver at a discounted price.
The decision by Ellis to block this move cost the Broncos a chance at Cousins and also prevented them from moving on from Vance Joseph a year too late.
More reports have emerged of Elway being given a couple of choices by Ellis as of the end of the 2017 season, which were to look for a new head coach (but not Shanahan) or keep Joseph and go after a new quarterback.
What a stupid ultimatum that is.
Imagine being in control of one of the most prestigious franchises in pro sports, and not letting the guy hired to make the team better actually make it better, or try.
There have been a lot of head scratching decisions in Denver since the team hired Joseph, which was Elway’s fault in the first place (he could have picked Kyle Shanahan at the time). Perhaps the most confusing thing going on right now is the difficulty everyone is having on being unified in the pursuit of making the team better.
Would any football executive not rather have Mike Shanahan and Kirk Cousins right now as opposed to Vance Joseph and Case Keenum or another quarterback?
Ellis’ short-sightedness in this regard has really cost the Broncos and set the team back in more ways than just Sunday football games. According to Paige’s report, this move has really cost the Broncos in terms of getting the stadium named, no-shows at the stadium on gamedays, and general lack of respect around the league.
The Broncos need to find a way to rejuvenate their league-wide respect and if Ellis is the guy standing in the way of that, something has to be done about it. The proof is in the pudding at this point. The Broncos stink, and have stunk for two straight years under Vance Joseph.
Regardless of the investment the team made in him as their head coach at the time, the Broncos need to do what’s best for the team and get back into a position where they are contending. That’s not going to be easy this offseason, as the Broncos don’t have the chance to go out and get a Kirk Cousins type of player.
The general sentiment seems to be that everyone feels the Broncos would be amenable to the reunion with Shanahan and Kubiak but Paige doesn’t believe it will happen. The Broncos will likely open up their head coaching position after the season and I would be shocked if Elway doesn’t go for a veteran coach.
The Broncos’ defense is right where it needs to be, save for a couple of injuries and a couple of pieces missing. They have played well enough that the team should have won more than six games to this point, but here we are.
The offense is the problem in Denver, and Shanahan has been watching the league closely but from afar over the past few seasons. He’s interviewed for multiple head coaching positions but has not been hired, ultimately.
With rumors of Gary Kubiak interested in returning to an offensive coordinator role, does it not make a ton of sense now with these reports of Shanahan emerging? Perhaps the connection was not to Kubiak and Harbaugh, but Kubiak and his old pal Shanahan.
The Broncos have some interesting pieces offensively and players who would have been beloved by Shanahan in the prime of his head coaching days. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman could be the team’s version of Tatum Bell and Mike Anderson.
Courtland Sutton is not too dissimilar from Brandon Marshall, one of Elway’s best finds in the NFL Draft.
This all would make so much sense but pride has a real chance of getting in the way of it happening.