>By Will Robinson
As my beloved Denver Broncos are venturing further down the spiral into the NFL laughingstock division, Josh McDaniels was caught up in what some called “Spygate II,” or my preference, “McSpygate,” when McDaniels’ video director and friend Steve Scarnecchia taped a portion of the 49ers walkthrough in London before their game on October 31.
McDaniels stated that he never looked at the tape, fired Scarnecchia, and apologized publically and privately to the 49ers; however, since McDaniels did not formally report the infraction the NFL, he and Scarnecchia were both fined $50,000 by the NFL. Even though McDaniels apparently did not order the taping and did not look at the tape, this stacks on to the questionable actions that have occurred since his appointment as head coach.
Just off the top of my head, here are a few moves McDaniels was a part of:
· The trading of Jay Cutler (Owner Pat Bowlen asked for a trade after he was unable to reach Cutler)
· The trading of Brandon Marshall
· The drafting of Knowshon Moreno over Brian Orakpo
· The trading of a 2010 first round draft pick to select Alphonso Smith in the 2009 second round then traded him after one year for a player who was selected in the 2009 seventh round.
· Trading up and down in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, eventually drafting WR Demaryius Thomas and QB Tim Tebow, skipping players in positions of need such as S Earl Thomas, or a superior player such as WR Dez Bryant. McDaniels, who needed to add quality players and depth to the defense, failed to select a defensive player until the fifth round.
· The injury of Elvis Dumervil (ok this one wasn’t his fault at all, but I miss the hell out of Dume this year)
· The trading of Peyton Hillis and two draft picks for BRADY QUINN! Probably his worst deal yet.
· Signing Jarvis Green to a multiyear deal, only to cut him a few months after.
Needless to say, Josh McD has not always made the correct calls regarding his personnel. There are only two moves I can think that I really liked: signing Brandon Lloyd and trading J.J. Arrington for the heavy hitting Joe Mays. While the positive results have not been on the field (started 6-0, 5-16 since), I like McDaniels determination to do things his way and to change the culture of the locker room. I wish his stubbornness prevented some of his decisions (ostensibly firing Mike Nolan), and that he had a crafty personnel man, who was not a part of the organization before, as general manager (Atlanta’s hiring of Thomas Dimitroff, for example) as opposed to Brian Xanders. Xanders was assistant general manager under Mike Shanahan, a man who is known for making questionable player decisions (just look at some of the draft selections, particular defensive players, he made after Elway), has shown he possesses this quality.
The bright side about McDaniels is that he is adept at calling offensive plays and he is only 34 years old. Growing pains were expected, and anyone who thought before this season thought the Broncos were a competitor and were not in a rebuilding phase had illusions of grandeur. I fully expected Denver to be 6-10 this year, and right now, they are on pace for four wins this year. What I do not want is Denver to make a late run in the season; earning a record they have no business achieving.
Watching the Broncos games this year, most of them have had a common theme: a quick start, slow finish, and horrendous defense. They jumped out to quick leads against San Diego and St. Louis, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion (blowout/comeback falling short). I’m scared whenever Demaryius Thomas is in the game, because it appears that every game he’s in, he sustains an injury. The defense cannot rush the passer to save their lives with Dumervil out for the season. The only two teams I think the Broncos could beat are Arizona and Carolina. That is how bad they, specifically their defense, look. I will endure these last five games, but I absolutely cannot wait until this season is over. The pain that comes with watching this Broncos squad week to week is the worst in recent memory. This is the worst Broncos team I have ever watched.
So then, what is next for Joshy McD and co.? Bowlen has already come out and stated that McDaniels’ job is safe until next season, and will not be fired after this one. This could be because either A) Bowlen truly believes in McDaniels or B) Bowlen does not want to pay two coaches who don’t coach for his team. Either way, McDaniels will be around for another offseason. I hope that he and Bowlen realize that Xanders is not up for the job, and they go out and hire a more experienced individual until McDaniels knows what he is doing selecting players. In addition, the organization needs a better system to evaluate defensive players. This has been a constant weakness since the Shanahan era, and the franchise needs to be able to select a defensive player and not scuttle their tenure with the team a year later.
I know some Broncos fans are vocal about not wanting another under year under McDaniels, and I can understand that, but two years is no enough time to turn a team around. Yes, the offense could have been fine if they never explored in obtaining Matt Cassel and alienating Cutler, but McDaniels got the guys he thought could run his system the best. Also, firing McDaniels would almost certainly doom the prospects of Tebow on the Broncos. Not everyone was quite sold on Tebow, even though there were some positives about him, but no one thought he would be drafted in the first round ahead of Jimmy Clausen.
McDaniels needs to look at himself and try to improve of where he is doing wrong, even though he may not want to take the blame. The head coach is the head of a football team. Despite allegedly not being involved in the taping incident, he should have done more than throwing his guy under the bus. He still has quite a bit growing up as a coach, but I still have faith that he can be a great one. Rome wasn’t built in a day, fellas.