Posted by Will Brinson
The Denver Broncos announced Monday night that owner Pat Bowlen "has relieved" Josh McDaniels of his coaching duties.
This shocking news dropped via the Broncos official Twitter feed and is up on their website with a "details to come" message. This now means that Bowlen is currently paying two head coaches, neither of whom are actually coaching his football team.
McDaniels has a career head coaching record of 11-17, but is just 5-17 since a 6-0 start to the 2009 season. His decisions to trade Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, as well as draft Tim Tebow, drew plenty of scrutiny, and eventually, it seems, he dug himself too deep a grave.
The McDaniels situation is particularly bizarre for a number of reasons, though.
"My decision to relieve Josh McDaniels as head coach was not taken lightly," Bowlen said in a statement released by the team. "I will always be appreciative of his passion, enthusiasm and hard work, and I thank him for his efforts. In the end, I was not satisfied with the results and the direction this team was headed. The decision to make a change was extremely difficult but one that needed to be made for this organization and our fans.
"Everyone, myself included, is accountable for our disappointing season and is now responsible for restoring the culture of winning that has been established by this franchise. Our entire organization is completely focused on returning to the level of prosperity that our fans expect and deserve from the Denver Broncos."
First of all, less than a week ago, Bowlen offered conflicting statements about McDaniels' future (his second straight vote of confidence!), stating that he wasn't making a change in an interview, and then issuing a "we are still evaluating" statement from the team.
Secondly, there's no one on the staff that fits the logical mold for an interim coach a la Jason Garrett or Leslie Frazier. Defensive coordinator Don Martindale was considered a candidate for the Raiders job prior to 2009, but ultimately didn't land the gig. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has done an arguably great job as a pro coach, turning Jake Delhomme and Kyle Orton into Pro-Bowl contenders.
Additionally, the Broncos' roster is, frankly, just a mess. While the guys on the team might work for McDaniels' purposes, it might not be the case for other high-profile candidates: Tebow is a project at best, Kyle Orton isn't the ideal quarterback for every situation, the team has been stripped of its big-name stars, and the assets acquired in those deals haven't panned out to substantial value for the long-term.
Perhaps the roster issues ultimately ended up being McDaniels' demise -- there was much speculation recently that if McD wasn't fired, he'd end up having to cede some personnel power to a new front-office figure. This is pure speculation, but Bowlen absolutely could have informed McDaniels that he was bringing in someone to help him run the personnel end, and McDaniels politely told him that he wasn't real interested in that, at which point Bowlen relieved him from his gig. (Again, pure speculation, but certainly a possibility.)
And finally, SpyGate Part Deux -- McDaniels was at the helm of the Broncos when the team was busted for videotaping a San Francisco walkthrough in London, and although the league and Broncos concluded that he did nothing wrong in the incident, outside of not reporting it sooner, the public embarrassment probably didn't sit well with Bowlen.
It certainly didn't sit ell with fans, who began calling for his resignation shortly thereafter. In the end, McDaniels will be remembered for a tenure in Denver in which his star shone bright and loud (some might say "foolishly brash" even) early, but ultimately ended up burning out and fading quickly.
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