As a Denver native few things have grounded my existence like watching the Denver Broncos play on Sunday. So when I see the team of my youth slowly careen (can you slowly careen?) towards the abyss of futility I feel compelled to voice my horror if for no other reason than to vent my frustration. Which is why I am making the bold assertion that owner Pat Bowlen should sack Mike Shanahan and the entire coaching staff. Now, before they squander the #12 pick and assumedly the rest of their 2008 NFL Draft choices.
Yes Shanny did draft Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil in the 4 th round in 2006, Darrent Williams in 2005 (rest in peace DW), D.J. Williams (move him back to the outside) in 2004, Clinton Portis in the 2 nd in 2002, Al Wilson in 1999, Trevor Pryce in 1997, John Mobley in 1996, and Terrell Davis in the 6 th round in 1995. But he tempered this success by wasting mid-first rounders on the venerable Deltha O’Neal in 2000, Willie Middlebrooks in 2001, Ashley Lelie in 2002, George Foster in 2003, along with the disastrous 1998 draft that netted only Brian Griese, and a string of poor free agent signings. Shanahan has developed an unspeakable fetish for former Cleveland Browns’ defensive lineman, a direct cause of their finishing 30 th against the run last year and 28 th in points allowed.
Then the icing on the cake, or nail in the coffin depending on your perspective, came Friday when the team cut the disgruntled Javon Walker and replaced him Monday with *gasp* Keary Colbert. The price for the Carolina Panthers cast off was three years at $7.5 million with a $2.5 million signing bonus.
I repeat, he let Walker go for nothing, and replaced him with a receiver that has 1424 career yards and 7 touchdowns and was scratched half of 2006. Yes Colbert is only 25 but his potential is far from intriguing if he couldn’t crack the lineup in Carolina. I understand the lure of picking up a 25 year old wideout. What I don’t understand is letting Walker go for nothing. Within literally minutes Walker had fielded inquiries from over a third of the league’s front offices, a sign his services are still fairly coveted. At least get a 2 nd, 3 rd, or 4 th rounder for him.
Which brings us to the sorry state the Broncos are in. Getting a draft pick for Walker could have proved invaluable for a team with more holes to fill than a Bangkok brothel. They have glaring holes on both offensive and defensive lines, safety, linebacker, and now receiver. Is Shanahan hoping Brandon Stokley will do for Jay Cutler what Wes Welker did for Tom Brady? Lord I hope not. The offensive line right now couldn’t heard cattle, the defensive line is easier to run on than Enron Stock, the safety duo of John Lynch and Nick Ferguson are so old they fart dust, and their leading rusher from last year had only 729 yards on 140 carries.
Now all is not bleak in Bronco land. There is the young and potentially scary duo of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshal, the still young D.J. Williams, the all world Champ Bailey, and undersized yet relentless Elvis Dumervil book ended with the potential of Jarvis Moss, and a #12 draft pick. Daniel Graham is a monster run blocker, Selvin Young did average 5.2 yards a carry last year, and Dre Bly can be decent when he’s not making insanely aggressive decisions.
That said Shanahan no longer instills ultimate confidence in Bronco country. His reputation is and has been that of a master schemer, a guy who writes flawless game plans. This reputation is forever tarnished, especially under the glaring light of an anemic red zone offense, lack of creativity in getting the running game going, and stunning lack of ability to adjust on the fly to the defenses thrown in front of the Broncos offense.
Simply put, Shanahan has lost his aura of supremacy. He is now a doddering shell of his circa 1998 genius. He looks lost and has since the failed Brian Griese/Jake Plummer experiment.
So here’s the proposal…fire Shanahan and his entire staff. Burn it to the ground and rebuild before another off season of ineffectiveness.