Not long ago, I was chatting with a member of the Mike Shanahan regime in Denver.
The former Denver employee and I were discussing what decision marked the beginning of the end for Shanahan’s 14-season run in Denver.
After tossing around a few ideas, we came to a consensus: Larry Coyer.
Shanahan should never have fired Coyer, now the defensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts, as his defensive coordinator. Shanahan’s Broncos never rebounded from his decision to jettison the innovative, successful and popular Coyer after a late-season collapse in 2006.
The Broncos’ defense was in a shambles in 2007 and 2008. After Coyer was fired, Shanahan hired Jim Bates to run the defense. He was fired 12 months later. Then, Bob Slowik was promoted to defensive coordinator for the 2008 season. He was fired along with Shanahan. Thursday, second-year Denver coach Josh McDaniels promoted linebackers coach Don Martindale to be the defensive coordinator, replacing Mike Nolan.
Martindale is Denver’s fifth defensive coordinator in five seasons.
I wonder if Shanahan would still be the coach in Denver if he hadn't fired Coyer?
Coyer’s units were always strong. He was blitz master and he made terrific in-game adjustments.
Coyer, of course, has moved on nicely. He is six days away from leading the Colts’ defense in the Super Bowl against New Orleans.