The dream died Sunday afternoon. The Tennessee Titans won, officially eliminating the Broncos from the playoffs for the third consecutive season. It has left the Broncos facing anticipated coaching change in two weeks, their fourth in six years.
According to The Colorado Springs Gazette, general manager John Elway considered bringing back Mike Shanahan, the franchise's most successful coach, near the end of last season. Elway had two options, per Denver7 sources: keep Joseph for a second season or fire him and conduct an exhaustive search including Shanahan as a candidate. Elway weighed his options, and chose to keep Joseph and find him a new quarterback in Case Keenum.
Joseph returned, showed slight improvement, but the roof caved in during recent back-to-back losses to San Francisco and Cleveland. And Keenum has not lived up to expectations, posting 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, leaving his future in doubt. Elway, as told to Denver7, met with Joe Ellis on the final Sunday of last season. Shanahan's name was brought up. At that point an interview with Shanahan was not ruled out, but Ellis wanted all options considered if Joseph was let go.
Elway thought about it, and he elected to keep Joseph.
It would have been complicated to bring back Shanahan. For all of his glory in Denver -- he holds a special place for winning back-to-back Super Bowls -- his career ended on a sour note. He missed the playoffs in his final three seasons 2006-2008 with the Broncos, and owns one playoff victory over his last 14 years as a head coach in Denver and Washington.
Per sources, Shanahan will not be a candidate if the Broncos, as expected, part ways with Joseph at this season's end. And with no move on Sunday, the Broncos are prepared to let Joseph coach the final two games.
The Broncos have struggled since winning Super Bowl 50. Coach Gary Kubiak brought a title then exited for health reasons after 2016. His last six weeks began a slide that the Broncos have failed to recover from. The Broncos are 13-23 over their past 36 games. Joseph is 11-19 and, perhaps more salient, 7-8 at home, including close losses this season to Houston and Cleveland that called into question his clock management and play-calling.