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Shanahan ready to helm offense


At age 28, Kyle Shanahan is the youngest coordinator in the NFL.

The first week of the regular season sparks jitters in just about every NFL rookie as they prepare to prove that they can hack it on Sundays.

The same could be said for Texans first-year offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the youngest coach at his position in the league. The funny thing is that he doesn't seem nervous at all.

Kyle, the 28-year-old son of Denver head coach Mike Shanahan, walks calmly between meetings inside Reliant Stadium where he is devising offensive schemes for the team's opening day game against Pittsburgh.

It's almost ironic that Kyle is preparing to face the Steelers, a storied franchise that won three Super Bowls before he was even born. But Kyle's ties to pro football run deep, starting with his father, who coached the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1998 and 1999.

{QUOTE}Kyle grew up on a steady diet of football, working as a ball boy and absorbing everything he could from the coaches on the sidelines. Mike never pushed his son into the game and even dissuaded him from entering the coaching ranks after Kyle had finished his playing career at the University of Texas.

Kyle's decision already had been made. He jumped into coaching as a graduate assistant at UCLA in 2003 before spending time at Tampa Bay as an offensive quality control assistant (2004-05). Kyle then hit the NFL fast track in 2006 when the Texans hired him to be a receivers coach. He was promoted to quarterbacks coach the following year and during this offseason, he replaced new Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman as the Texans' offensive coordinator.

"I think coaching is very competitive," Kyle said. "I mean, coaching is almost year-to-year if you look at it, based on if you're successful or not, and so I think you're stating your case every day you come to work. And some guys are just staying in their position and doing that inside and out, but every day I've always been trying to learn other positions and prove to coach (Gary) Kubiak and the players that I can handle seeing more than just one position."

As quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, Shanahan has had to learn to how to prepare for meetings that cover every type of situation for every position group on his side of the ball.

"You can't just worry about your position," he said. "You can't just go into a meeting unprepared. When you go into a meeting, you have to speak to the whole offense, not just the quarterbacks and the skill players. You've got to speak to o-linemen and backs. You've got to speak to everyone.

"You've also got to be on it with scripts and stay days ahead so coaches can study the scripts and prepare their players for it. Really, just the day in and day out work has been the biggest adjustment."

Shanahan was able to use the preseason to make that adjustment and feel confident at the helm of the offense.

"I understand what the responsibilities are of an offensive coordinator," he said. "I understand that people do look to him on the offense. You really can't think about that stuff because we know in there that it's all of us, and people will always look to the offensive coordinator or the head coach when the offense isn't doing well."

There also have been skeptics who believe Kyle is too young for the position, but the players don't agree. They respect his knowledge of the game and related to his coaching philosophy.

"In the past 10 years, football has changed so much as far as how to be successful, how to score points, how to be successful and how to be a good football team," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "I think Kyle really knows the next steps this offense needs to take. I think he's willing to put in the hard work and the effort to get that done."

Kyle is more than willing. He is determined to see Texans earn a trip to the playoffs this year.

"We expected big things last year and we did a few good things and we expect the same this year," Kyle said. "We'll be disappointed if things don't go well. We expect to be a playoff team. If we can stay healthy and not turn the ball over and run the ball better, move the chains, I think we can be as good as anyone."

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