Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Pat Bowlen's decision to fire Mike Shanahan is the best move for both parties.
The Broncos need to go in a different direction and Shanahan needs a fresh start.
Let's face it, Shanahan's recent track record is of a coach who deserved to be fired. The Broncos failed to make the playoffs the past three seasons, going 24-24. That is the epitome of average. And the Broncos tied a league mark by blowing a three-game lead in the AFC West, finishing 8-8.
Bowlen deserves credit for making this happen. The Broncos have gotten stale the past few years, and Bowlen was seemingly blind to it. He held true to his longstanding mantra that Shanahan had a "job for life."
Presumably, Bowlen had a private caveat: For life or until Shanahan blew a three-game division lead in the final three weeks of the season, whatever came first.
This move puts Bowlen back in control of his team. He gave the Shanahan the keys to the shop while Bowlen was simply a very well-informed bystander. That worked well for a while, and it earned Bowlen the reputation as one of the best owners in the NFL. But he let the expiration date pass. After 12 seasons or so, this marriage had to end.
Shanahan seemingly got bored and the organization lost its mojo. Now, this move allows it to fight back and become one of the more relevant teams again.
When the Broncos put out the news release announcing Shanahan's firing, the Denver job instantly became the best available job in the NFL. It's not even close.
Bowlen's reputation as a great owner, the presence of a franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler, the team's willingness to spend money and a great fan base make this an intriguing team to take over. The Broncos are very young and have a chance to be good right away. The best available coaches will look at this job.
This team needs a different direction and new leadership.
This is not to say Shanahan is not a good coach. He is one of the best. But he needs a new start as well. After Denver lost the final home game in the Shanahan era, to Buffalo on Dec. 21, Shanahan said he was "disgusted." You could tell he needed a fresh start.