Yesterday I jumped the gun a little and ran off with the Mike Zimmer rumors. As soon as I heard that he was being targeted by Mike Shanahan to be our defensive coordinator, I got excited. Today, I thought we should take a similar look at a way more sure thing: Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator.
NOTE: I can think of three good reasons to like just about anything as many of you have learned over the last year. I invite you to agree and/or disagree and please throw your reservations into the comments section below so we can get it all out there now.
1) You want a guy who was born and raised to coach? You got him. According to Bill Williamson, the Broncos beat reporter for the Denver Post back in 2006 (and now the AFC West blogger for ESPN), Kyle Shanahan "spent his life gearing toward coaching. X's and O's. O's and X's. It was the kid's life." Our current offensive coordinator is not a coach that was persuaded to take a job he wasn't sure he wanted (Sherman Smith), nor is he a coach that was persuaded not to retire (Greg Blache). Kyle Shanahan is exactly where he wants to be, in a job he has spent his life preparing to do. Given our struggles on the offensive side of the ball in recent years, I would say this is the kind of man we need at this post.
2) Here is a quote from Kyle Shanahan, also transcribed by Bill Williamson for the Denver Post:
"I studied every potential X's and O's play and issue possible. I spent my whole life working on that. My goal was that any question a player could have about anything on the field, I'd be able to answer it. There's more to it. I'm learning that now. You have to communicate with your guys. The guys have to feel comfortable with you. They have to trust you, or they'll tune you out."
Open lines of communication? Trust between coaches and players? Comfort on the offensive side of the ball? Dogs and cats living together?...etc., etc. On offense and defense, we have struggled with all of these things at times during the last two seasons. While it was probably never as bad as it was made out to be, there was enough smoke to believe that at least a little fire existed. So I can appreciate a commitment to ensuring that players feel comfortable approaching the boss with questions and ideas, as well as the careful preparation for as many issues that could arise. By God, that is just crazy enough to work!
3) We'll wrap up the trio with some actual numbers and history. He became the wide receivers coach for the Texans in 2006, and in 2008 he was promoted to the offensive coordinator position where he spent the last two seasons. As a fantasy football geek, I know how good the Texans' offense has been in that span, but most people don't realize how dominant they have been since they get overshadowed by the Colts. In his two years as offensive coordinator for the Texans they finished 3rd and 4th in the league in total offense. They averaged 22.9 points per game in 2008 and 24.2 points per game in 2009. This past season, they had the #1 passing offense...better than the Colts, Saints, and Patriots. They had the 4th highest total number of plays over 20 yards and the 4th highest total number of plays over 40 yards. Granted, their rushing offense was closer to the bottom than the top, but that only underscores the potency of their passing attack (as well as their reliance on it.) To be fair, Gary Kubiak deserves a ton of credit as well, and the combo of Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub is currently much better than anything we have going in D.C. But the year before Shanahan Jr. took over the offense it was 14th in the league.
There you have it. A team in dire need of help on offense gets an offensive minded head coach with one of the hottest coordinators in the league in tow. We have all pined for this franchise to go after a hot coordinator in the hopes of importing a fresh ideology and style. In Mike Shanahan, we get the experienced head coach AND the hot coordinator. There is a lot to like there.