Belichick and Patriots Must Heed Tale of Shanahan

Jim McIsaac

When Mike Shanahan was fired from the Denver Broncos following a collapse of epic proportions, I had a lengthy discussion with my cousin about the reasons why. One of the primary reasons he said that the Broncos needed to move on from Shanahan was that he had too much control over football operations. It wasn't just that he was the head coach, but he was the general manager as well. My cousin wasn't the only one to share these sentiments. Upon Shanahan's firing, ESPN covered it writing the following:

It will be interesting to see if Bowlen wants a change in the way the organization is run. Over the past several years, the most successful teams have moved away from the once-popular structure of having a coach-slash-GM in charge of everything.

In Denver, Shanahan ran everything and as things went downhill, he relieved defensive coordinators -- Greg Robinson, Ray Rhodes, Larry Coyer and Jim Bates -- in almost revolving-door fashion.

This year, as the defense floundered, it became obvious it wasn't just a coaching problem. It was an issue of talent on the field, and in Denver, the buck stopped with Shanahan.

He focused on defense in 2007, using two of his four picks for defensive linemen Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder, neither of whom has been much of a factor. Also of late, he wasted a third-round pick on Maurice Clarett (2005), spent millions on Travis Henry (2007), never got anything from Boss Bailey, Niko Koutouvides and Dewayne Robertson (2008).

Yet even when the talent wasn't there, Shanahan usually fielded a competitive team. Decades of solid sellouts and the full confidence of his owner made him almost impervious to criticism. Even after blowout losses, he was wont to acknowledge, at least publicly, deficiencies in his coaching or management style.

To me, there is very little difference between what I read there and what I have been reading regarding Belichick'sPatriots of the last few years. Belichick as the Coach-slash-GM? Check. Revolving door of coordinators? Check. A side of the ball floundering due to lack of talent? Check. A laundry list of horrible draft picks? Check. Fielding a competitive team despite a lack of talent? Check. Almsot impervious to criticism? Check again.

There is still a lot of season left for the Patriots to right the ship. While they have been nothing short of ugly, there seem to be simple solutions to some of the problems that ail them. But when this season ends, regardless of how it turns out, it is in the best interest of the Patriots and Belichick long-term for Belichick to relinquish some of his power. If not, we could see the downfall of the Patriots must sooner than expected and say bon voyage to the greatest coach in franchise history.

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