Mike Shanahan revealed his side of the late-2017 discussions centered around the Broncos bringing him back as head coach. The two-time Super Bowl-winning HC said he was “close” to taking the job, had it been offered.
“I was close. I was close,” Shanahan said, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (subscription required). “But one thing that has to happen: You all have to be on the same page. And one thing you have to make sure of when you are a head football coach is the owner, the GM, the quarterback are all on the same page. If it doesn’t happen, the chance of you winning a Super Bowl aren’t very good.
“So, anyway, if that situation had happened, I was going to take it. If not — but anyway, I had a great conversation with John as everybody knows and it didn’t work out. Sometimes it works out for the right reasons.”
John Elway made the initial contact regarding the short-lived reunion, Jhabvala reports, and the Hall of Fame quarterback-turned-GM discussed the job — which then belonged to Vance Joseph — with his former coach. But at the time, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis informed Elway his firing Joseph after one season would have required him to conduct a thorough search — rather than earmark the job for Shanahan. The Broncos would have obviously needed to comply with the Rooney Rule as well.
As for the quarterback component of this, Kirk Cousins may or may not have been part of the equation. Conflicting reports emerged on then-free agency-bound passer following Shanahan to Denver. But the Shanahan process did not progress too far, and the Broncos made other plans. They retained Joseph for the 2018 season and signed the player Cousins wound up replacing in Minnesota, Case Keenum. They are now on another HC-QB combo in Vic Fangio and Joe Flacco.
Shanahan’s greatest coaching moments came in Denver. He helped the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles and four playoff byes. His Raiders and Redskins tenures did not go as well. The 66-year-old coach has not ruled out a return to the sidelines.
“You always miss coaching,” Shanahan said. “But it’s been five years. I made the decision a long time ago, right when I got fired. I said if I didn’t get the right job right away where we had a chance to win a Super Bowl that I was probably going to do what I’m doing, which is kind of being a dad and following (my) son and the organization and being a part of it.”
Elway did enlist Mike Shanahan’s help while securing a deal with new OC Rich Scangarello, who worked for Kyle Shanahan for two seasons. Scangarello’s offense will look somewhat similar to what the Broncos primarily ran under the elder Shanahan.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.