UPDATE: McDaniels fired. I stand by the points made in this post nevertheless.
Broncomaniacs across the nation want and expect Josh McDaniels to lose his head coaching job by the end of the 2010 regular season, if not sooner.
Give the coach another year, if not two, or set this team back at least two years.
To be fair to the critics, the kid coach followed up a 6-0 start last year with a 5-19 slide. In the process he jettisoned Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Peyton Hillis, and Alphonso Smith, among others.
In return fans witnessed a career year from Kyle Orton–Sunday’s nine-for-28, 177 yard performance in a 10-6 loss at Kansas City notwithstanding–and the emergence of Brandon Lloyd as the leading receiver in the NFL as of today, December 12, 2010.
Incidentally, the Broncos’ other WR Jabar Gaffney “ranks one spot ahead of Marshall in yards this year. Both Gaffney and Lloyd have more touchdowns [read: more than Marshall’s one].
If Peyton Hillis remained in orange and blue, fans likely would have seen him as often as Lance Ball, who had seven carries in relief of Knowshon Moreno this season. By the way, Moreno has finally begun to emerge as the running back everyone anticipated when McDaniels drafted him last year. 161 yards on 23 attempts from scrimmage against a decent Kansas City rush defense alongside a nearly inept Kyle Orton is just 23 yards short of the season-high 184 Hillis put up against New England.
Meanwhile Brandon Marshall is allergic to the end zone in Miami and Alphonso Smith singlehandedly blew the game for Detroit on Thanksgiving.
Anybody who watched preseason Bronco football knows <a href=”https://miz303.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/with-a-fresh-start-alphonso-smith-pulls-a-fresh-prince/”>rookie DB Perrish Cox outperformed Smith anyway</a>, with a year to spare.
Yes, McDaniels let some very talented football players go via trades or free agency. But this is the NFL–each team has talent at every position, but no player fits into every system.
McDaniels kept his players, the ones who believe in the system he implements.
Cutler threw a fit when he heard his name surface in trade talks then crossed his arms and slammed his bedroom door. Marshall wanted out of Denver since bearing witness to Darrent Williams murder on New Years. No coach could manage a team with those kinds of cancers–captains no less!–except, perhaps, for Jeff Fisher, whose team of rag tag thugs may be more trouble than it’s worth anyway.
A personnel move no one talks about anymore, McDaniels’ canning of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, stands out to me as the only devastating talent mistake for a team that now ranks near the bottom of the NFL in almost every defensive category.
Nolan took his defensive philosophy to Miami, where an otherwise unremarkable .500 team riddled with injuries still has the fifth best defense against the pass and overall yardage, as well as the 11th best scoring “D.”
Nolan seemingly lost the job because of Peyton Manning and McDaniels’ need for more control on the defensive side. In all fairness, Nolan’s defense probably deserves the most credit for Denver’s 6-0 start last year, as well as his share of the blame for the 2-10 slide to close the season.
I pulled up the Hall of Fame’s list of coaches and trekked back to their respective second years. Imagine if Tom Landry’s Cowboys or Bill Walsh’s 49ers canned their rookie head coaches following disappointing second season when neither cracked .500.
Head Coach | 2nd season W-L | (3rd year W-L)
Bill Walsh: 6-10 (13-3, Super Bowl champions)
Tom Landry: 4-10 (5-8, goes .500 for the first time in year 5)
Dick Vermiel: 5-9 Philadelphia, (9-7), 4-12 St. Louis, (13-3, Super Bowl champions), 8-8 Kansas City (13-3)
Sid Gillman: 4-8 (6-6)
Chuck Knoll: 5-9 (6-8)
Kyle Orton said earlier this year that he did not feel truly comfortable in McDaniel’s system until this second year. Given a healthy offensive line, and an extra year for rookie linemen Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton in this system, and Orton in yet another contract year, I like this team’s chances offensively.
McDaniels hope for a future in Denver depends on the improvement of a subpar, aging defense. Expect Champ Bailey to hit the free agent market in the uncertainty over a labor lockout. Mario Haggan, Elvis Dumervil, and DJ Williams all have the talent and drive to eventually become the best linebacking core in the NFL. Even diminuitive Joe Mays and young Robert Ayers still have tremendous upside.
Do the fans a favor, McD and GM Brian Xanders. Draft some serious meat on the defensive line–hopefully not another Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder, Marcus Thomas crop–and build up that depth the team so desperately lacks on the defensive side.
These Broncos have had the same problems in the same places for most of the decade. Draft well, Denver, and don’t give up on this team just yet.
Oh, and for the sake of google…Tim Tebow, Let Tim Tebow play, Tim Tebow should play now, fire Josh McDaniels. I espouse none of these opinions, but Google is the blog god, and people have to find this site somehow.