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Historical Look at Shanahan’s Broncos

June 29, 2007

I have had a theory about Shanahan’s Broncos… It’s not at all scientific, but I believe it to be a quasi-accurate formula for charting our path to a Super Bowl.

The theory is simply this: It takes Shanahan three years to go from new QB to Super Bowl.

YEAR #1 (TRANSITION): The first year is a ‘Transition’ year, where Shanahan is both teaching his new QB as well as learning what that QB can do best. I guess it could be called a ‘rebuilding’ year, but I hate that term so we’ll use ‘Transition Year.’

YEAR #2 (PLAYOFFS): The second year Shanahan has nearly perfected the coordination of his QB and his playbook and the Broncos find themselves in the playoffs (hence ‘playoff’ year).

YEAR #3 (SUPER BOWL YEAR): um… pretty self-explanatory, really.

Now you might be asking: If that’s true why haven’t we won a Super Bowl every three years?

Good questions! The answer is very simple… things went wrong. Some of these were beyond anyone’s control (see 2001 below). The other major factor is the fact that, while Mike Shanahan can bring a team to the brink of the Super Bowl, he needs a QB that can finish the deal. I think he worked wonders with each of the post-Elway quarterbacks he has worked with, but until now I don’t think we’ve had ‘the closer’ we need at that position.

Here is a break down of the Shanahan Era Broncos according to my theory:

1995 Season: 8-8 (no post-season)
Elway: 3970, Davis: 1117, Miller: 1079/McCaffrey: 447, Sharpe: 756

TRANSITION YEAR: Shanahan takes over the Broncos.

1996 Season: 13-3 (Post-season: 0-1 lost Divisional Playoffs)
Elway: 3328, Davis: 1538, Miller: 735/McCaffrey: 553, Sharpe: 1062

PLAYOFF YEAR: The Broncos advance to the playoffs.

1997 Season: 12-4 (4-0 Super Bowl Champions)
Elway: 3635, Davis: 1750, Smith: 1180/McCaffrey: 590, Sharpe: 1107

SUPER BOWL YEAR: “This one’s for John.”

1998 Season: 14-2 (3-0 Super Bowl Champions)
Elway: 2806, Davis: 2008, Smith: 1222/McCaffrey: 1053, Sharpe: 768

SUPER BOWL YEAR: Team stays the same… same results.

1999 Season: 6-10 (no post-season)
Griese: 3032, Gary: 1159/Davis: 211, Smith: 1020/McCaffrey: 1018, Chamberlain: 488
TRANSITION YEAR: Griese takes over at QB.

2000 Season: 11-5 (0-1 post-season: lost Wild Card Playoffs)
Griese: 2688, Anderson: 1487/Davis: 282, Smith: 1602/McCaffrey: 1317, Carswell: 495/Clark: 339

PLAYOFF YEAR: The Broncos have a GREAT year and advance to the playoffs.

2001 Season: 8-8 (no post-season)
Griese: 2827, Davis: 701/Anderson: 678, Smith: 1343, Clark: 566

SUPER BOWL YEAR: Ok, it was supposed to be Super Bowl year, but this was the ‘Year of Tragedy.’ Monday night before the world-changing 9/11 attacks, Eddie McCaffrey breaks his leg. TD gets injured later that year and things fall apart. By Dec. 16th (the KC game) our 3rd string QB is throwing to our 5th string WR… Dark times for all Denver fans.

2002 Season: 9-7 (no post-season)
Griese: 3214, Clinton Portis: 1508, Smith: 1027/McCaffrey: 903, Sharpe: 686

LAME DUCK YEAR: This year is lost as Griese never recovers from 2001 and is finally benched.

2003 Season: 10-6 (0-1 post-season: lost Wild Card Playoffs)
Plummer: 2182, Clinton Portis: 1591, Smith: 845/Lelie: 628, Sharpe: 770

TRANSITION YEAR: Plummer takes over at QB.

2004 Season: 10-6 (0-1 post-season: lost Wild Card Playoffs)
Plummer: 4089, Droughns: 1240/T. Bell: 396, Smith: 1144/Lelie: 1084, Putzier: 572

PLAYOFF YEAR: The Broncos play well and advance to the playoffs.

2005 Season: 13-3 (1-1 post-season: lost Conference Championship)
Plummer: 3366, Anderson: 1014/T. Bell: 921, Smith: 1105/Lelie: 770, Putzier: 481

SUPER BOWL YEAR: Ok, it was supposed to be a Super Bowl year. We had one of our best shots at it since Elway left and we blew it. Most people blamed Plummer (and so did Shanahan- he drafts Cutler in the off-season).

2006 Season: 9-7 (no post-season)
Plummer/Cutler combine: 2995, T. Bell: 1025/M. Bell: 677, Walker: 1084/Smith: 512, Scheffler: 286

TRANSITION YEAR: Plummer starts at QB, but is replaced by Cutler in Nov.
Cutler begins to work the offense and learn what it’s like to be a QB in the NFL.

Follow me so far? Well, at least pretend you do for my sake…

IF we count 2006 as a Transition year (and not a Lame Duck year), that leaves us two years remaining on the three year development theory of mine . So, it’s time for my predictions based on this wildly unscientific theory that I just made up! 🙂

2007 Season: 11-5 (1-1 post-season: lost Conference Championship)
Cutler: 3500, Henry: 1500, Walker: 1200/Marshall: 700, TE: 550

PLAYOFF YEAR: Cutler plays well his sophomore year aided by Henry on the ground.

2008 Season: 13-3 (3-0 Super Bowl Champions)
Cutler: 3300, Henry: 1800, Walker: 1300/Marshall: 1100, TE: 775

SUPER BOWL YEAR: Shanahan finally gets his post-Elway ring!

As fun as this is, I hope none of you are taking this too seriously…..

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One comment

  1. Nice info dude! Keep up the good work.



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