The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Countless misteps led to early exit


Anyone who has studied the game on a professional level will tell you it takes three years to properly evaluate a draft class.

If that's the case, then how is it that 23 months was long enough for the Broncos to evaluate Josh McDaniels as a head coach?

McDaniels' first draft class hasn't even completed its second full season and he's already unemployed. What does this move say about Denver's evaluation process if it hired McDaniels in January of 2009 and has already admitted that he was a mistake 23 months later?

Of course, it doesn't take a Bill Parcells-like football mind to figure out what went wrong with McDaniels. First and foremost, the man had zero head coaching experience at any level before arriving in Denver. He was a graduate assistant at Michigan State and then after several assistant gigs with the Patriots, he was New England's offensive coordinator for two years.

That's it. That's all the experience he had before the Broncos hired him. Granted, it's hard to fault any team for wanting someone who worked under Bill Belichick and hey, McDaniels had to start somewhere as a head coach. But is it shocking that he failed given that he had zero head coaching experience before he arrived in the "Mile High City?"

That said, his lack of experience was not why he was fired. He was fired because almost every move he made backfired. Within months of becoming the Broncos' head coach, he sparked controversy by attempting to trade for then-Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel. The problem with that of course, was that the Broncos already had a starting quarterback in Jay Cutler, who promptly went into a tizzy after he found out his brand new head coach was trying to get rid of him. In the end, Cassel wound up in Kansas City and McDaniels traded Cutler for first and third round picks, as well as a quarterback in Kyle Orton who needs a lot around him in order to succeed.

Nobody questioned McDaniels when the Broncos raced out to a 6-0 record in 2009. The team was winning in wild fashion, McDaniels was hip-bumping players on the sidelines and Orton was an MVP candidate (well, maybe not).

But when they lost four in a row and eight of their last 10, the word "fluke" started to be tossed around. Then the real fun began.

On March 14, McDaniels traded running back Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional pick in the 2012 draft to the Browns in exchange for Brady Quinn. At the time, Hillis was a rarely used running back/fullback hybrid that couldn't see the field. It wasn't until shortly after the season started that people realized McDaniels traded away a feature back for a third-string quarterback.

On April 14, McDaniels was part of the contingent that traded Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins in exchange for a second-round pick. Thus, in just one year, McDaniels had traded away his starting quarterback and his top receiver.

On April 22, McDaniels and Co. traded away second, third and fourth-round picks to the Ravens in exchange for the No. 25 pick. With that pick, the Broncos selected Tim Tebow, who was regarded as a massive project in terms of a passer. Considering the needs the Broncos had at other positions, it was a little high to be taking a player who many pundits felt would have to change positions in order to succeed in the NFL.

Not lost on people was McDaniels' inability to retain Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator following the '09 season or how he was recently fined because a member of his video department was caught taping one of the 49ers' walk-through practices in London earlier this year. But those two situations only add gasoline to a forest fire.

It wasn't one thing that did McDaniels in - it was a collection of things. The fact that the Broncos have lost 17 of their last 22 games didn't help his cause, but again, losing was just one small facet of what made McDaniels' short tenure in Denver a massive failure.

Twenty-three months is too short of a time to evaluate a head coach. Unless of course that head coach made every possible wrong decision he could make during that time.

By Anthony Stalter  |  December 7, 2010; 12:24 PM ET  | Category:  Coaching , Denver Broncos , NFL Rules Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Never mind the inexperience. McDaniels doesn't have the temperament to be a head coach. Instead of coldly analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of talent, he acts like a fan. We all love Tebow but as the head guy, he doesn't have that luxury. He massively overpaid. I'd have taken a late round flyer on Tebow myself but a first round pick? Just what a bonehead move that was has yet to be fully revealed.

Posted by: thatstevensguy | December 7, 2010 6:57 PM

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