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Why Kyle Shanahan is the perfect fit for the Broncos

Andre Simone Avatar
January 8, 2017


The search for the Denver Broncos next head coach is in full force this weekend. After having met with Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub Friday, Saturday was Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s turn.

At the conclusion of the meeting Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations, John Elway took to Twitter, “We spent the morning with Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta. He’s a very bright coach who’s had a tremendous year and has a great future.”

It was a fitting comment considering Elway’s comments immediately after Gary Kubiak stepped down from the head coaching job, when describing the qualities he desired in a candidate.

“There’s a lot of young guys out there that have a lot of potential,” he said on Monday. “Bright young guys. Hopefully we can get one of those.”

Shanahan certainly fits the profile in abundance for what Elway and the Broncos are looking for; he’s young and he’s bright. But there are many more reasons why he would be the ideal new head coach of the Broncos.

First and foremost is Shanahan’s offensive record. It was on full display in the 2016 season, a season in which the Falcons became the eighth highest scoring offense in NFL history, tying the 2000 St. Louis Rams attack that was known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.”

Shanahan’s bright future as an offensive mastermind has been on full display for some time, long before he took the Falcons to historic heights in 2016. In 2008, Gary Kubiak promoted him to be his offensive coordinator while with the Houston Texans, making him the youngest coordinator in the NFL—surpassing Josh McDaniels by three years. In Houston, Shanahan was crucial in Matt Schaub having the best season of his career in 2009—4,770 yards to the tune of 68 percent completions with a 29-15 touchdown to interception ration.

From 2010 to 2013 he followed his father to the Washington Redskins in which he aided Robert Griffin III’s historic rookie season by constructing a playbook that allowed the former Heisman to transition from the ‘Air Raid’ in ways that the NFL had yet to see at that point. The Shanahans constructed a fast-paced offense with lots of the patented bootleg play action schemes that allowed Griffin to get out on the perimeter and throw on the run. Kyle also showed off some real creativity as a play caller. In 2014 he moved on to the Cleveland Browns where he was able to help Brian Hoyer to a career season that had the Browns contending for a playoff spot late into the year.

At every stop, Shanahan’s produced some of the best football out of his personnel while showing an especially impressive track record with his quarterbacks. More importantly, he’s shown impressive versatility and adaptability as a coach finding ways to make Schaub, Hoyer, Griffin, and now Matt Ryan, all produce despite incredibly different skill sets. An appealing factor for the Broncos, who possess two intriguing young talents at the position though Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are quite different in their skills.

Like Kubiak and his father, Shanahan’s shown an ability to create high-level running games, as his offenses have ranked in the NFL’s top 20 in rushing yards in six of his nine seasons as a coordinator and in the top five three times. While Shanahan’s certainly made his chops working with quarterbacks and allowing the passing game to excel—an important quality in today’s NFL—he’s also coached balanced attacks. Another appealing quality.

Shanahan also would bring some familiarity to Denver, having been groomed by the Broncos last two Super Bowl winners and coaching a similar, though slightly more modern and diverse attack. This would prove crucial in Denver, where the offense has struggled the past two seasons as the defense has excelled. If Shanahan could manage to improve the offense from the bottom half of the NFL to even just a middling unit that could be a scary proposition for opponents facing the Broncos in the near future.

Simply put, Shanahan isn’t just one of the bright offensive minds in the NFL, he is the bright up and comer in the league—especially when we eliminate McDaniels from the list. Based on that alone, he’d be a perfect candidate. Once you add his familiarity with the scheme already in place, it almost seems like a perfect match.

This isn’t to say there aren’t other valid bright young candidates out there but Kyle Shanahan sticks out amongst them all, and taking everything into account he seems like a true slam dunk for the job.


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