Broncos owner Pat Browlen fired Mike Shanahan on Tuesday afternoon. Shanahan spent 21 years in the Broncos organization, 14 years as Denver head coach. Denver failed to make the playoffs after losing three games in a row to close the season. They had a 3-game lead in the AFC West and finished the season 8-8 after losing to San Diego 52-21 in the final game of the season.
The Broncos have won only one playoff game since John Elway retired after the second super bowl win and they are 24-24 in the last three seasons.
Whom will the team hire as the next head coach? Don’t be surprised if Patriots GM Scott Pioli get the GM job and then brings in a defensive minded head coach to Denver. At the top of the coaching list should be Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnulo. This team needs a defensive minded coach. The Broncos have allowed over 400 points the past two seasons and are getting older at the Cornerback position with Dre’ Bly turning 32 and Champ Bailey will be 31. The Broncos will be looking to upgrade this offseason at safety, middle linebacker, running back, defensive lineman and cornerback through free agency and the NFL Draft.
Other names that will probably be mentioned and brought in for an interview are former Giants Coach Jim Fassel, N.Y. Jets Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, 49ers interim coach Mike Singletary and Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett.
What is next for Mike Shanahan? The Detroit Lions could be a possibility and would be a fresh start for Shanahan. He is a proven winner and would bring a winning attitude to the Lions locker room. The Lions have not had a winning season since the 2000 season and have made horrible draft decisions the past eight years. Shanahan would have to draft a quarterback and fix holes at almost every position on the Lions roster.
Another possibility is the New York Jets. The Jets have a talented roster and Shanahan would help tweak the offense. Shanahan has a proven track record of getting the most of out his running backs and Thomas Jones could flourish in a Mike Shanahan offense along with Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer if he decides to stay with the Jets organization.
Shanahan could decide to sit out a year and see what coaching jobs are available after the 2009 season.
The NFL coaching carousel has gotten off to an interesting start so far and it will be interesting to watch who ends up where in the next couple of weeks as teams get ready for evaluating college players for the NFL Draft in April.