Texans candidate watch: Mike Shanahan

In 1996, three days after Texans general manager Rick Smith signed a contract to become an assistant coach at TCU, the Denver Broncos offered him a job.

Having just signed that contract, Smith said no. This piqued the curiosity of then-Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. So Shanahan had someone call Smith again a few weeks later to ask why he turned down the Broncos. That time he wanted to know what it would take to hire Smith.

And that's how Smith entered the NFL.

It was under Shanahan that Smith learned what it meant to work and win in the NFL. The Broncos won two Super Bowls while Smith was an assistant defensive backs coach. A few years in, he asked Shanahan to help him move into personnel, and the coach did that in 2000.

Why do I bring this up now?

According to ESPN.com's Dan Graziano, Mike Shanahan nearly quit after the 2012 season, disillusioned by the link between Robert Griffin III and Washington owner Dan Snyder. For one reason or another, Shanahan could be without a job at the end of this season. (See today's game.)

He fits the mold of someone with head coaching and NFL experience that the Texans want. Texans owner Bob McNair, who is taking a very hands-on approach to this search, values someone with championship experience, which Shanahan has.

So let's take a look at what kind of candidate he would make for this job, should he become available:

  • Former player? Brief college career at Eastern Illinois University

  • Coaching debut: 1975 as an offensive assistant at Oklahoma.

  • NFL coaching debut: 1984 as Broncos receivers coach.

  • Significant stop: Was the Broncos' offensive coordinator in 1985, 1986 and 1987, a stint that preceded his first head coaching opportunity.

  • Head coaching experience: Shanahan coached the Los Angeles Raiders, going 7-9 in 1988 and 1-3 in 1989, then was fired. After two seasons as an assistant in Denver and then offensive coordinator in San Francisco, he returned to the Broncos as head coach. He spent 14 seasons and won two Super Bowls as the Broncos' head coach. In four seasons with Washington, Shanahan has gone 24-36 and made his only playoff appearance last year.

  • How did it end? In Shanahan's 10 seasons with the Broncos following the second Super Bowl win, and the end of John Elway's quarterbacking career, Denver went to the playoffs four times and won one playoff game. The Broncos fired him in 2008 after three consecutive seasons with no playoffs. It hasn't ended yet with Washington. But if it does, keep an eye on him.