Bowlen has fired the longest tenured and most winning Denver head coach in franchise history, and replaced him with what is now the youngest head coach in the National Football League. This may seem like a mistake until you take a look at their hands and realize Mike Shanahan has only two Super Bowl rings while McDaniels is wearing three.
Yes, it is all about the Super Bowl rings, and lately Denver hasn’t come close to putting one on.
McDaniels comes to the Broncos from the Patriots and, from what I have read, has been an integral part in coach Brian Belichick’s success in New England. McDaniels was the offensive coordinator in 2007 when the team broke an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes. And this year with the injury to pretty boy Tom Brady, McDaniels had to sculpt Matt Cassel, who had not started a game since high school, into a winning quarterback, which he did, even if they didn’t make the playoffs (thank God).
McDaniels was selected by Bowlen from seven other candidates that interviewed for the job. Personally, I thought Bowlen was going to lean toward a defense-minded coach, but alas, he stuck to what Denver has been known for and went with an offensive mastermind. Or did he?
As it turns out, McDaniels has a head for defense as well. He was the defensive assistant for Belichick in 2003, where, according to The Rocky Mountain News, he received praise around the NFL for working with the Pats’ injury-prone secondary and turning it into a sizable defense. This, for me, is the kicker. Denver is in need of a secondary that is more than just Champ Bailey. Dre Bly? Give me a break. I, like many Bronco fans, am ready for a decent secondary. No more big plays. I am hopeful McDaniels will have an eye for that.
Bowlen seems to be hopeful as well.
“Look, the chance to get this young man was very intriguing to me,” Bowlen said at last week’s press conference. “I think he’s going to be a great coach and I think he can fix our defense… I think we’ve got a great young coach who’s ready for the job.”
McDaniels signed a four-year contract with Denver and I suspect we will find out very quickly (week two of next season) if he is worth the trade for Mike. To run the defense, McDaniels hired former San Francisco Head Coach Mike Nolan, who brings with him knowledge as a defensive coordinator with the Ravens, Jets, Redskins, and Giants.
Along with Nolan, McDaniels said he plans to hire “veteran hands” to coach the defense back into shape.
I am already feeling a little more upbeat about Denver’s defense with McDaniels and Nolan on board. I admit I wanted a former defensive coordinator as Denver’s next head coach, but I think McDaniels is bringing his youth to that side of the ball. Next up on my worry list is the relationship between McDaniels and Jay Cutler.
Cutler is going from being a disciple of the man who led John Elway to two Super Bowl wins to being led by another young buck. The most important aspect of their relationship is going to be motivation.
“Jay’s very talented… he’s got a lot of ability,” McDaniels told The News. “Very intelligent person, very intelligent player… I think Jay’s going to enjoy the system. This offense is very quarterback-friendly, once you can use all the tools.”
We can only wait and see how the Cutler/McDaniels marriage plays out, but I must admit, it has to be a little weird for Jay to take orders from Shanahan one day and McDaniels the next. Let’s just hope Denver doesn’t end up in the same situation as when Dan Reeves coached Elway. Both were good at what they did, just not together. We would all like to forget about that.
The one criticism I have of Bowlen in this major transition in Bronco history is that he has yet to hire a G.M., and perhaps doesn’t plan to. He has said that personnel duties will be shared by the heads of the organization. That approach created a problematic situation when Mike had to do it, stretching him too thin. Denver needs a G.M. dedicated to finding the best personnel, and I know just the man.
Elway, get your ass off the golf course and help us out. We need you.