Shannon Sharpe sees a lot of Mike Shanahan in Dan Quinn
HOUSTON — Shannon Sharpe played seven of his 14 pro seasons under Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, who spent 14 seasons in Denver and won two Super Bowl championships. Likewise, Tom Brady has played his entire NFL career with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has been in New England since 2000, making him the longest-tenured coach in the league.
It’s too soon to say whether second-year Falcons coach Dan Quinn will pan out as an Atlanta lifer or an all-time great, but according to Sharpe, the potential for such a run is there.
“You really never know,” Sharpe told FOXSports.com after a taping of “Undisputed” this week. “No one thought Coach Belichick was going to be Coach Belichick in the beginning, when he lost his first job in Cleveland (in Feb. 1996, after five seasons with the team). Mike lost his first job (after two seasons) in Los Angeles. And Coach Quinn has had a lot of success early — here he is in the Super Bowl — but it’s only his second year.
“But he has his guys playing,” Sharpe continued of Quinn. “The guys believe in him. He’s brought that style of football from Seattle. They play fast on defense, they’re very physical, they get after you up front. Offensively, they’re very explosive. They can strike from anywhere. There’s a reason why they had 13 different players catch a touchdown this year, which is an NFL record. So they’re dynamic, and normally the team takes on the personality of their head coach.”
In Sharpe’s case, he also played for Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips and Brian Billick during his career — all experienced head coaches in their own right — but with Shanahan, in particular, he said he could tell early on that he’d be a fixture in the Mile High City.
“When I got that game plan, I just felt that it was a game plan we could win with,” Sharpe said. “And that’s not to minimize anybody else, but I just know that Mike was so meticulous in his approach, I know there was really no stone unturned. He came from a situation where he was the Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator with the 49ers, so obviously you have to know what you’re doing. And you just get a sense that, ‘OK, we’re going to be ready to play today.’ ”
After an 8-8 debut season, Shanahan’s Broncos went on to make the playoffs in 1996, then won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1998 and ’99, virtually securing his place in franchise history.
“He’s very detail-oriented,” Sharpe said of Shanahan, who last coached with Washington in 2013. “He came with discipline, structure, the expectations. There was no middle ground. We were going to do it his way and we saw the results early.
“Coming in, being an offensive coordinator for San Francisco, calling the plays and winning a Super Bowl, he comes in with credibility,” he continued. “So he was very detailed. Every day we had the agenda for the day — meeting, practice, lunch, film study, workout — everything was always detailed. And details, discipline and structure are the fundamentals of any organization.”
Now all that remains to be seen is whether Quinn, who went 8-8 in his first season, can use his championship experience in Seattle to bring as much success in Atlanta as Shanahan once brought to Sharpe and the late-’90s Broncos.