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How Good will Jay Cutler be? (A History of Mike Shanahan in one part)

July 16, 2008

Ian Henson is back and ready with another article for Bronco Madness. Here he does part 1 of a history of Mike Shanahan. It is all about Jay Cutler and QB’s in their 3rd year.

It’s been referenced, quite often, the non-mythical, “Third year,” in a Mike Shanahan offense. Well, lights out folks, it’s here and it’s Jay Cutler’s year. However, let’s go back in time a little bit, 1986- Mike Shanahan is in his third year as a professional coach, joining the Broncos after serving time with the Florida Gators in the college ranks as an Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach. 1986, John Elway carried the Broncos to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1978.

However, Mike Shanahan at that point in 1986 had only been the Broncos Offensive Coordinator for two seasons (serving his first as the Wide Receivers Coach). So I’m going to jump forward to 1987 to take a look at Elway, because this is Elway’s (first) third year in the Shanahan system.

John Elway (1987):
224 of 410 attempts for a 54.6% completion, 3198 yards, 19 tds, 12 ints, 83.4 QB Rating.
* Elway wins the league MVP, yet only played in 12 games due to the 24-day league strike.

Mike Shanahan leaves Denver to join the Oakland Raiders as their Head Coach. He will return to Denver in 1989 (four games into the season as a Quarterback Coach), Shanahan takes back over as Offensive Coordinator in 1991.

John Elway (1991):
242 of 451 attempts for a 53.7% completion, 3,253 yards, 13 tds, 12 ints, 75.4 QB Rating.
* Elway is invited to the Pro Bowl, the Broncos make their third Super Bowl in four seasons.

Mike Shanahan is fired by then Head Coach Dan Reeves. At the time it was stated that Mike Shanahan was in the middle of a controversy involving Elway and Reeves. Shanahan is quickly snatched up as the Offensive Coordinator by the San Francisco 49ers (the team that had just whooped the Broncos in the previous years Super Bowl).

In San Francisco Shanahan is at the offensive helm of arguably the most potent offense in NFL history, led by Steve Young. 1994 is Shanahan’s third-year with San Francisco.

Steve Young (1994):
324 of 461 attempts, for a 70.3% completion, 3969 yards, 35 tds, 10 ints, 112.8 QB Rating.
* Young has a career year for completion percentage and QB rating and makes the Pro Bowl for his third year in a row.

In 1994, Shanahan finally accepted Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen’s pleas that he take over as Head Coach for the Denver Broncos.

As even new Bronco fans know, 1997 was one of the greatest years in Denver Bronco history.

John Elway (1997):
280 of 502 attempts, for a 55.8% completion, 3,635 yards, 27 tds, 11 ints, 87.5 QB Rating.
* Elway/Denver wins first Super Bowl (in five trips), Elway makes his eighth trip to Honolulu.

John Elway of course retired after the 1998 season, prior to that season the Broncos drafted quarterback Brian Griese. Let us fast forward to Griese’s third year as a Bronco, in 2000.

Brian Griese (2000):
216 of 336 attempts, for a 64.3% completion, 2,688 yards, 19 tds, 4 ints, 102.9 QB Rating.
* Griese makes his first and only trip to the Pro Bowl despite only playing in 10 games.

In 2003 Denver would pick up Jake Plummer in Free Agency and in 2005 he would have a career year.

Jake Plummer (2005):
277 of 456 attempts, for a 60.7% completion, 3,366 yards, 18 tds, 7 ints, 90.2 QB Rating.
* Plummer makes his first and only trip to the Pro Bowl, leading Denver to the AFC Championship Game.

Denver drafted Jay Cutler in 2006, his 2008 stats are up for debate as of now, but are they really? Shanahan is six for six so far and a quarterback in his third season under Shanahan has yet to not make the ProBowl. Granted the list contains Hall of Famers John Elway and Steve Young, it also includes Brian Griese and Jake Plummer who made their only trip to Hawaii while playing their third year for Coach Shanahan.

Of course there are no guarantees, but it’s safe enough to guess for young Jay Cutler. This article is partly in response to those that are reading the “Top 25” quarterback lists, that every magazine and online site seems to be pumping out over the last couple of weeks. Most of Cutler ranked around number 11, which is fair, but don’t stress faithful… As the saying goes, “The writing is on the wall.”

Want a prediction?

Too bad, I don’t want to jinx him.

Ian Henson is a member of Bronco Madness, you can catch his blog at Broncos Denver Broncos.

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5 Comments
  1. July 17, 2008 1:47 PM

    good article. but they drafted cutler in 2006

  2. July 17, 2008 6:21 PM

    I know, I hissed as soon as I saw that two days ago. I don’t know how to edit though =( Garret can you help me out =D

  3. July 17, 2008 6:31 PM

    No worries man. I will change that.

  4. July 17, 2008 8:04 PM

    You’re the man…

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