The Denver Broncos’ decision Tuesday to can head coach Mike Shanahan after 14 seasons was just what the team needed, local sports fans said shortly after the announcement.

Aaron Gracie of Grand Junction said Shanahan’s firing has been a long time coming, given the team’s lack of growth over the past several years.

Gracie said the team stagnated after offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak left in 2005 to become head coach for the Houston Texans, and Shanahan took on too many responsibilities

Mike Rottmann of Grand Junction was not surprised to hear of Shanahan’s dismissal. He called Shanahan an “offensive mastermind” who could not deliver what Denver needed most, a solid defense to complement its offensive talent.

“I think it’s time for him to go,” he said.

James Foster, who debated Shanahan’s fate with Rottmann at Old Chicago, 120 North Ave., said the outgoing coach will find work as a handful of other National Football League teams have recently canned their coaches, including the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets.

Even as Shanahan took a beating at the bar, local football experts saluted his accomplishments.

Joe Ramunno, head coach of Mesa State College’s football team, said Shanahan had a passion for football that was unrivaled.

Ramunno said even though the Broncos fell apart down the stretch, blowing a three-game lead in their division and losing a playoff spot to the San Diego Chargers, Shanahan was a great coach overall.

“They pay those guys big money, so (his firing) doesn’t surprise me,” said Ramunno, who played for the Chicago Bears in 1985. “I think a lot of people in Colorado have grown fond of the way he runs things.”


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