I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t offer some comment on the recent firing of Mike Shannahan as Broncos head coach.
Obviously, I’ve been a vocal proponent of the “Broncos suck!” perpective. Just as obviously, they don’t truly suck. This year’s, hell, this decade’s, Lions suck. The Broncos have seemed, in my time in Colorado, to be a fatally flawed above average team, whose flaws were (for a time) obscured by the gleam of two Lombardi Trophies.
It started with the local sports bobbleheads, who took to bemoaning the fact that Brian Griese wasn’t John Elway. He could never come back in the 4th to win games. Somehow, they overlooked the fact that Greise would consistently guide the Broncos to 3rd quarter leads. There was never any discussion of the defense’s failures.
And so, Griese was released and replaced by a quarterback who had demonstrated the ability to come from behind late in games: Jake Plummer. Coincidently, the team got better, but the biggest difference was the defense, having their best post-Elway season the year they were ranked 3rd in points allowed.
Then the wheels came off. Plummer quit, but Jay Cutler was drafted and the offense improved. Meanwhile, the defense fell to 30th in points allowed as Shannahan changed personnel and coaches every year.
Through it all, there was a sense among football bobbleheads that the Broncos were a better team than they were, as though defense doesn’t contribute to success even though the Elway led offense didn’t become truly successful until the defense was ranked in the top 10 in points allowed.
And so, despite Shannahan’s reputation as an offensive “mastermind” his success has generally been determined by the quality of his defense, for which he’s never shown much aptitude.
Ultimately, I was a bit surprised to see the headline when Shannahan was fired, but it was more because this year didn’t seem much different from any of a number of previous years which didn’t result in his firing.
Still, for the time being, at least, the Broncos suck.