After a long off-season of studying game films, rookie prospects and potential roster moves, Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan was well aware of the problems he faced getting his team ready to advance in the NFL playoffs.
So, making one of the boldest moves in franchise history, he selected three consecutive defensive cornerbacks in the 2005 NFL Draft. He also picked up nearly the entire defensive line from the Cleveland Browns.
Genius or madness, the 2005 season will prove itself out, but for now, Shanahan appears dedicated to shake the "…can't win without Elway" stigma that has plagued him since the Hall of Famer retired.
"I have to be realistic with myself," Shanahan said. "If we would have won any of those games, we wouldn't be talking about playoff wins. We would be talking about winning Super Bowls. You have to do the best you can to put a championship football team on the football field, and if you put a championship football team on the football field, you have to win Super Bowls. We are trying to win Super Bowls and not playoff games. Obviously winning the division and getting home field advantage would help, but we are going to keep on working at it and hopefully we can get over the hump this year."
Shanahan's attempt to get over the hump was bolstered with the return of former Broncos linebacker Ian Gold, brought back to help secure a defense that was literally ripped to shreds by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
The additions of Courtney Brown, Ebenezer Ekuban, Michael Myers and Todd Sauerbrun further emphasize the Broncos quest to win, and win now.
"I'm excited about our team," Shanahan said. "There's a sense of urgency, and guys want to work hard. There are a lot of talented teams in the NFL. The teams that play together and find a way to get it done are the teams that separate themselves."
It's a roll of the dice which way this will all play out, but in a city where anything less than a championship is considered failure, Mike Shanahan is at least headed in the right direction.
Over the course of the next five months, we'll find out if it stays that way.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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