McDaniels’ New Staff to Complete Shanahan’s Rebuilding Project

By PFC Broncos Writer James McMurtry

Now that his staff is in place for the 32 year old Head Coach of the Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels will try to finish what Shanahan started. In the “Not For Long” league the architect who begins rebuilding a franchise seldom finishes the task. Mike Shanahan was able to complete 2 of these cycles, but wasn’t able to finish the third. It’s to be too, because this could be one to last longer than the previous versions.

The first version of his team had both a hall of fame QB, and hall of fame Left Tackle at the end of their careers. Also included was a league MVP running back and a very opportunistic defense. This resulted in the 2 Super Bowl victories that would lift John Elway’s legacy and solidify Shanahan’s place as a top coach in the NFL.

The second rebuilding began the next year in 1999 with a new QB in Brian Griese. That team would eventually trade out QBs for Jake “the Snake” Plummer to make a total of 4 playoff appearances and culminate in knocking off the previous unbeaten Tom Brady in the playoffs and hosting an AFC championship in 2005 against the eventual Super Bowl wining Pittsburgh Steelers. After the loss and being one game away from the Super Bowl, the team was essentially disbanded. The term blowup is very appropriate in this case because in the blink of an eye it was gone.

Only three years removed, it would be difficult today to find a remaining player from that 2005 team that went 13-3. The team that was built followed Shanahan’s previous method of using Free Agency to reach a championship caliber level. Unfortunately this meant that the team was filled with high priced veterans that just weren’t going to be around for much longer. The defensive line that was pulled from the Cleveland Browns are gone. The start safety John Lynch is out of football. Jake Plummer was benched the following season in 2006 in favor of the rookie Jay Cutler. The offensive line only has one player remaining from one of the most consistent running games in the last decade.

In 2006 Shanahan finally started to rebuild his team through draft picks instead of trading them away for veterans. He had to completely rebuild both sides of the ball so he started with what he knows best; offense. He did have a few leftovers from previous drafts such as Guard Ben Hamilton and Linebacker DJ Williams, but only a handful and nothing to call a core. Slowly he put together a formidable group over the course of three seasons.

Drafted Offense

2006

QB Jay Cutler

TE Tony Sheffler

WR Brandon Marshall

G Chris Kuper

2007

RT Ryan Harris

2008

LT Ryan Clady

WR Eddie Royal

C/G Kory Lichtenschtieger

FB Peyton Hillis

The defense did have some attention in the draft particularly in the 2007. Denver only had 4 picks and used 3 of them on the defense. Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder, Marcus Thomas. It remains to be seen if these picks will work out. Thomas, the Defensive Tackle, seems to be a hit. The other two, Moss and Crowder, are misses and backups at best . Some rookies from the 2008 class may turn out to be contributors. It seems like it takes 3 to 4 years for most players to develop so that would make sense why the 2007 class hasn’t produced the desired results as of yet. However, there are still more needs to be address on the defense and that is where this offseason will be focused by McDaniels. After a franchise worst 448 points given up there is no other place for the new coach to look to bring in new players.