Every week from now on, we’ll profile potential replacements for Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips, should he be fired by the end of the season, if not sooner. (Fingers crossed!) Today, it’s former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan!
Career Record: 146-95
Are Those Dentures? I think they are. Rick Reilly can get a year’s worth of material out of those things.
Credentials: Won two Super Bowl titles. Pioneered the use of running back committees that are now widespread across the league, making any running back you own in fantasy ball worthless every other week. Thanks a lot for that, you bastard.
Under Shanahan, the Broncos suffered only two losing seasons in 13 years, making the playoffs seven times. And, though it’s common to assume Shanahan was merely an average coach after John Elway’s retirement, his record with Denver after winning the two Super Bowls was a rather robust 91-69. Not too shabby. Also, he’s very tan.
Weaknesses: Shanahan also served as Broncos’ GM, and presided over a number of moves that ranged from questionable to downright atrocious, including drafting Maurice Clarett and his hatchy hatchet in the third round (To be fair, Shanahan also traded away Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey and a draft pick. Bailey is still an All Pro. Portis can now eat an entire porterhouse steak in under three minutes flat). Shanahan shipped out players and assistant coaches at an incredibly high turnover rate, creating a environment that was stable only at the very top. The idea that Jerry Jones would turn personnel duties over to The Mastermind is laughable. If Shanahan does come in, it’ll be another one of those Parcellsian arrangements where the coach is promised lots of authority only to be undercut by the Double J at various intersections.
Odds Of Being Named The Next Cowboys Coach: 25/1. Rumors have persisted for two weeks that Shanahan will take over for Jim Zorn in Washington, perhaps as soon as mid-season. But if there is one job less desirable out there for a big name coach will demand total control than the one here in Dallas, it’s serving under Little Danny Snyder and his goofball lieutenant Vinny Cerrato. Regardless, there will be plenty of desirable jobs out there for Shanahan to choose from should he decide to wait until season’s end. Will he trade a bit of power in favor of coaching with an owner (Jerry Jones) who’s willing to do anything to win? It’s certainly a possibility.
(UPDATE: Author Stefan Fatsis' take? "2:1. It's Dallas or D.C., flip a coin. I know I'm riding the conventional-wisdom bandwagon here, but let's consider the facts. Shanny is a classic obsessive compulsive workaholic ball coach. The man is spending his year off from the NFL watching film five hours a day. He is. Really. He told me in the spring that he was doing this to keep up with who's doing what in the league. He also told me that he didn't want to take a job unless he had a full offseason of 100-hour weeks to install his system. And also that he was learning how to use email. Yes, learning how to use email. Now, wherever he goes he's going to want final say on personnel. And a shitload of money. So, which owners won't care that Shanny a) is pushing 60, b) was not fond of these wacky new statistics that are rather helpful in analyzing football players c) had some trouble relating to the current generation of players near the end of his time in Denver, d) will want final say, e) will want a shitload of money, f) will install an office-management style that is anything but progressive and g) has just learned how to operate a computer? Right, Danny Boy and Double J. I'm leaning toward Washington because I think Snyder is so humiliated by what's happened to his $800 million toy that he's ready to finally let someone with actual football experience actually operate the team. But who knows. Jerry and Dan are friendly. I wouldn't be surprised if Shanny has joined them for a little country-club threesome and they're right now negotiating who gets to sign The Mastermind.")
Do You Want Him?: Only you know for sure. Let us know in the comments.