A closer look at Broncos coaching candidate Kyle Shanahan, maestro of NFL's best offense

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 00:29:36-05

DENVER -- No head coaching candidate boasts Kyle Shanahan's momentum. He is the NFL's hottest play-caller, the maestro of the best offense. The Atlanta Falcons average 33.5 points per game. No other team averages 30. As it so happens, the Broncos need to caffeinate their offense. 

The Broncos experienced a drought of "Grapes of Wrath" proportions, scoring one touchdown in 14 quarters at one point down the stretch as they were eliminated from the playoffs. With Gary Kubiak gone because of health reasons, the Broncos new coach needs a plan to rev up the attack and accelerate the development of young quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. 

Where does this leave Shanahan? He profiles for the position, and according to an NFL source, nailed his interview last Saturday in Atlanta. If Vance Joseph leaves Denver and interviews with the Chargers on Wednesday and 49ers on Thursday, the feeling is that it helps Shanahan. 

Again, it remains a fluid situation.

But Shanahan, pictured above with his father Mike and former quarterback and current general manager John Elway, has helped himself through this process. He finished his ninth season as an offensive coordinator, and six of those units have ranked in the Top-10 in total yards. Shanahan delivers regardless of the supporting cast. And he's been humbled and adapted after a difficult season in Cleveland, and public criticism from receiver Roddy White in Atlanta and Donovan McNabb and Robert Griffin III in Washington.

Shanahan has earned a reputation as a brilliant X-and-Os coach who knows how to put players in position to succeed. His famous father Mike was the master at creating mismatches and exploiting them. Kyle learned under Jon Gruden, Kubiak and his dad, evolving his offense into an attack that devoured the Broncos on Oct. 9, sending the Broncos to their first loss of the season.

There was a question when the process began of whether Kyle would want to follow in his father's footsteps. Mike Shanahan was the most successful boss in Broncos history. However, Kyle has made it clear he's targeting the Denver job, and that he would be his own man running the show. 

The Broncos have three strong candidates in Shanahan, Joseph and Kansas City's Dave Toub. Shanahan is the choice of the fans, and it's not just because of his name, but his offensive resume.


NFL coaching experience: Buccaneers offensive quality control coach (2004-2005), Texans receiver coach (2006-2007), Texans offensive coordinator (2008-2009), Washington Redskins offensive coordinator (2010-2013), Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator (2014), Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator (2015 to present).

College coaching experience: UCLA graduate assistant (2003).

College playing experience: Appeared in 23 games with Texas in 2001-2002. Made 14 receptions for 127 yards. Transferred to Texas from Duke after strong prep career at Cherry Creek High School. He switched from quarterback to receiver early in football career after developing a sore elbow.

By The Numbers: Shanahan is riding a wave of momentum as the NFL’s hottest play-caller. The Falcons lead the league with 33.5 points per game. They scored more than 33 points in 10 of 16 games.  Shanahan earns marks for versatility. He has enjoyed success with Matt Schaub, Donovan McNabb, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel and Matt Ryan, who is the frontrunner to win NFL MVP honors.

Personal: Born in Minneapolis, Minn. He and his wife Mandy have three children.


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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at