clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mike Shanahan: A Quarterback History

We all know the tale. Mike Shanahan enters as Denvers head coach in 1995, and inherits John Elway who is still at the peak of his career. His John Elway led teams go on to Super Bowl victories in 1998 and 1999. Ole' Johnny Boy retires in the spring of 1999, and has put his own personal stamp on Mike Shanahan's legacy.

End of story right.............................? Well, let's look a little deeper into the history of the Mike Shanahan QB.

The Early Years:

Shanahan got his start as an NFL offensive coordinator in 1984 with the Denver Broncos, where he was instrumental in developing the great John Elway, who had been drafted the year before out of Stanford. He led the Broncos offense for four years before leaving to become the head coach of the Raiders.

His brief stint with the Raiders ended in 1989. In 1990, he went back to the Broncos as an offensive assistant, and again, was granted the privilege of working with Elway. He was fired in 1991 for being in the middle of a spat between Reeves and Elway.

In 1992, Shanahan came on board with the 49ers as an offensive assistant, where he worked with Joe Montana and Steve young. He lasted two years in San Francisco, before being offered the head coaching position in Denver in 1995.

The Denver Years:

Shanahan was once again reunited with John Elway. This is where many people see his coaching chapter as just begining, but if you look to his past, you will see that Shanahan had some of the best quarterback prospects in the game, that he worked along side, and coached.

Now the Elway era lasted just four more years in Denver. They were a very successful four years, but like all good things, it had to come to an end. Now Mike Shanahan is no dummy when it comes to quarterbacks. He has been fortunate enough to coach some of the games best. There was no doubt he knew what type of quarterback he wanted running his offense............................or so we thought.

Shanahan drafted Brian Griese in the third round of the 1998 draft. He had to have known that Elway's magical career was going to be coming to and end shortly, and this move was designed to be able to groom the young Greise to eventually take over at the position. There were really only two other prominent(if you want to call them that)quarterbacks that Shanahan passed on in the 1998 draft. Considering they were picking 30th that year, following a Super Bowl victory, they were not in the running for either Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. The rest of the quarterback class was pedestrian at best. So, back to those two quarterbacks that Shanahan could have selected in the second round, had he felt they were worthy: Charlie Batch and Jonathan Quinn.

In the summer of 1999, Shanny shunned popular veteran Bubby Brister, in favor of Griese. Griese was not known for his big arm, but was considered somewhat mobile, and was extremely accurate, never once, in his four years as a starter in Denver, dipping below 64 percent completion percentage.

The Griese experiment lasted until 2002. The quick flavor of the day turned out to be nothing more that an average NFL quarterback, and Shanahan was not about having his reputation ruined by that. The 2003 season saw the athletic, and strong-armed Jake Plummer arrive in Denver. Plummer had success with the Broncos during his four year stint as the starting quarterback, but old age began to set in, and a new leader was needed.

For the first time in his career with Denver, Mike Shanahan has the luxury of a higher first round pick(pick #11)that he could use on a quarterback. Denver didn't have a first round pick in 2005, and before that, they were not in the market for a quarterback.

In 2006, Shanahan chose Vanderbilt gun-slinger Jay Cutler with the 11th pick in the draft; one pick after USC's Matt Leinhart. Cutler was viewed as a big, strong, smart, mobile quarterback, with a rocket for an arm. His only downside, was that some scouts viewed him as a bit raw.

Plummer starter the 2006 season as the starter, and led Denver to a 7-2 record, but after a two game losing streak, Shanahan pulled his veteran, for the rookie Cutler. Shanahan coached two more season with Cutler at the helm, before being fired at the end of the 2008 season.

A New Time in D.C.:

Shanahan was hired as the new head coach of the Washington Redskins in 2010. His first order of business was trading incumbent starter Jason Campbell to the Raiders, and bringing in veteran Donovan McNabb, for whom he traded valuable draft picks for. In his prime, McNabb was known for his huge arm, and great scrambling ability, but as Shanahan soon found out, this was no longer McNabb's prime.

The McNabb experiment lasted just one year. He was replaced later in the 2010 season by veteran backup Rex Grossman, who was brought over from Houston, because of his familiarity with Kyle Shanahan's system. McNabb was traded in the 2011 offseason to Minnesota, where he went on to an unimpressive half-season.

The lockout shortened 2011 offseason saw the Redskins in a world of trouble with their starting quarterback situation. Mike Shanahan failed to address the glaring need in the 2011 NFL Draft, and his hand was forced to bring back free agent Rex Grossman to lead the team.

What the hell do we do now?

Believe it or not, there is a point to all this incessive rambling. You or I may not exactly understand what that point is, but I'm sure one Mr. Mike Shanahan does. The point is, what type of quarterback will Mike Shanahan go after?

It's very clear that the Washington Redskins are a team without an identity, and a true leader. Both of these can easily be tied to the quarterback spot.

So you've had your brief history lesson, and you now may have an idea what Shanahan is looking for in his signal caller;................. or do you? He has coached Montana, Young, Elway, Griese, Plummer, Cutler, McNabb, Grossman and Beck, to name a few. Does this man have a "type"? Does the offense he runs, dictate what type of quarterback will be successful here, or will the type of quarterback dictate how successful the offense here will be?

There are a couple different options that Shanahan can take this offseason. Based upon his past, where do you think he's leaning?