In a recent one-on-one interview of head coach Mike Shanahan by ESPN blogger Dan Graziano, he made it clear that he intends to search high and low for offensive playmakers this offseason.
The team finished the season ranked 16th in the NFL in offensive yards per game, but 26th in scoring. Part of the drop off has to do with the player that lines up under center, and part of that has to do with who he’s throwing to. Shanahan commented on both aspects of that relationship, with a cautionary warning.
Everyone wants a franchise, but there aren’t enough to go around:
“Not everybody understands that,” he said.
“Everybody wants a franchise quarterback,” Shanahan said. “Every team you talk to, if you don’t have a franchise quarterback, everybody’s looking for a franchise quarterback. I understand…If they’re out there, you try and get one.”
Every great quarterback has a franchise wide receiver to throw to:
“We’ve got to get a wide receiver that’s a playmaker. You’ve got to have a No. 1, no question about it…You’re still looking for a guy that can go the distance and make plays, running on a short shallow cross and go the distance. Everybody’s looking for that.”
In that same conversation with Graziano, Shanahan noted that Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney were quality players, but with 11 and 10 years in the league, respectively, they aren’t part of the long-term solution.
Shanahan commented on budding receiver prospect Leonard Hankerson, who got injured at the end of his breakout game in Miami:
“I think he’s got a chance to be the guy. Health is what we don’t know…You can see in practice where he’s a natural. Big. The thing that separates guys at No. 1 is when they can beat bump coverage and they don’t have to slow down to beat it. They’re able to keep their speed and be able to get by somebody. He’s got that.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Shanahan also noted that he will again target players that are reaching free agency for the first time (in their mid to upper 20’s), rather than those in their early 30’s. That strategy was employed last year with starters like Josh Wilson, Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield.
Check out the rest of Graziano’s exclusive for full Shanahan quotes.