First let's talk about Shanahan.....firstly I believe people should not be debunking anything about Shanahan. The thing is, though, is that they say all this crap about "Oh, he can't win without an Elway/Davis/or whatever", but really who does win without an Elway, so to speak? The all-time greats, in face do...and as it stands now, Shanahan is not an all-time great(yet), but he is still one of the top coaches in the league.
Shanahan's problem is him being GM. He needs to relenquish that position and focus on coaching. He's made some horrible personel blunders.....fucking Dale Carter, Leon Lett, Chester McGlockton, Eric Davis, Daryl Gardener, Eddie Kennison, etc, and he's taking a huge gamble with Plummer, but I think Jake is gonna do well in Denver, he played very efficiently this year, but missed some time, and that bit us in the balls, this line, this system fits Jake well....and I don't care what anyone says, NO COACH wins with Danny Kannell or Jarious Jackson. END OF STORY. Shanahan needs to invest in a reliable backup, he needs to become a better evaluator of talant at the QB postition.....Griese was good enough, but he caught the injury bug, as with all "decent QBs", they need a good system....When Griese and Plummer got hurt you couldn't depend on Brister, Frerotte, and Beuerlein to fill in.
Concerning Shanahan's "lack of winning without an Elway"....let's look at the bigger picture, bottom line, if you don't have something "special", you will not win, let's go back to 1995, the start of Shanahan's tenure in Denver....
1995: Shanahan comes in, gets Denver to 8-8, no playoffs...but who wins it all? That crazy Dallas team capping off a great dynasty.
1996: Shanahan gets Denver to 13-3, lost a heartbreaker to JAC in the D-round. GB wins it all sporting Favre at the height of his prime.
1997-1998: NO EXPLANATION NEEDED.
1999: Lots of things went wrong, injuries, retirements, underachiving, it was a big mess, no one would've salvaged that mess that year....STL wins the SB with one of the most prolific offenses in history.
2000: Shanahan did a great job leading these guys to 11-5....but you can't knock Shanahan for losing to the eventual SB Champs, and holders of arguably...if not THE BEST, one of the best defenses of all time.
2001: 8-8, a season like this has been the story of the Broncos as of late...a few misplays don't happen, and they could be in the playoffs...bad year...Pats are the only team to win it all recently to have been "sweetheart underdogs", but hey they closed out on a huge run, and we all know Brady is clutch.
2002: Tough year, Denver was a few field goals from 12-4, there were soeme really tough close losses. 9-7 and missed the playoffs "BCS style"....and as we all know TB sported that insanely great defense.
2003: Could have been a great year, but Plummer of all people gets hurt, and we needed him the most. Hell, you take away Plummer's injury, a Dante Hall TD return, an bad choice to rest some guys.....and Denver is in the 12-14 win bracket.
Like I said Shanahan's signings and moves as GM have been bad, the only real thing you could knock him on. As with any coach who's GM, it's always a mess. Another thing Shanahan needs to address is the lack of depth at certian positions.....hey Shanahan's a running coach, and he's got a lot of depth at RB, OL, and good depth on the d-side, at LB...and to an extent, on the d-line(DAMN THEY PLAYED WELL THIS YEAR...really surprising), and in the secondary(even though he doesn't have a bonafide star there, these guys play well enough to be great number two/borderline 1sh guys and would excel with a star in the secondary)...but Shanahan needs to invest in a real backup QB, reliable 3rd, 4th WRs, maybe a non-headcase star DB and/or DL....and they'd be set...injuries and lack of depth has hurt us.