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What happened with Josh McDaniels in Denver?

Some thoughts from our friend Tim Lynch of Mile High Report.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McDaniels has been a hot name in this coaching cycle. We all assumed he would be the next coach here when it was announced this morning that Mike Mularkey would not be returning as head coach. Now there are reports that he is heading to the Colts, but I am not sure how much validity there is to those reports...time will tell.

Some people are extremely anti-McDaniels because of his stint as the head coach in Denver. I couldn’t remember exactly how that went down, so I reached out to Tim Lynch of Mile High Report for his rundown of what happened while McDaniels was with the Broncos. Here is what he had to say:

The Good

McDaniels doesn’t get enough credit for how quickly he attempted to change the culture in Denver. When Mike Shanahan was fired, the Broncos were basically run like a country club. The star players on the team bristled at this young hotshot coach coming to town. Jay Cutler outright revolted and demanded a trade after a single meeting with McDaniels. Unphased, McDaniels traded Cutler away for two first round picks, a third round pick, and Kyle Orton to the Chicago Bears. In hindsight, that was a steal. He did the same a year later with wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who the Miami Dolphins gave up two second round picks for. Marshall has had a solid career, but at the time of his trade he was silently struggling with depression and was far from the man he would eventually grow into.

As a pure evaluator of talent and finding the right player mindsets, McDaniels was very Bill Belichick like. If he had been given enough time, he probably would have completed the transformation of culture in Denver from a soft, country club one to a more hard-nosed, businesslike one that we see in New England. The reason he wasn’t successful in that is due to the bad and the ugly.

The Bad

Essentially, McDaniels went too hard too fast. The roster turnover wasn’t high enough and the leaders in that locker room basically revolted by midseason in his first year as head coach. In an overtime win over the New England Patriots, McDaniels lost the veteran leaders in that locker room after an angry tirade on the sideline. That 6-0 start turned into an 8-2 start turned into an 8-8 season. The team absolutely quit on him despite the fact he was putting them in the best positions to win games.

That quit carried over into 2010 and he was fired when the team was 3-10. However, he wasn’t exactly fired for that. Let’s move on to the ugly.

The Ugly

Spygate II. There had already been rumors of Pat Bowlen’s struggle with memory loss, but nothing had been confirmed. He was still the man in charge. As someone who has been a fan of the Broncos entirely under Bowlen’s ownership of the team, we’ve always known him to be a very honesty and forthright person. Nothing in his 30 years of ownership brought more embarrassment to him than this Spygate II saga. Initially, McDaniels denied knowledge of this event and Bowlen stood behind his head coach. However, what I think ultimately happened is that the team learned through its own investigation that McDaniels was, indeed, directly involved. At that point, Bowlen abruptly dismissed him has head coach.

It would shock me if McDaniels went down that road again in his second chance at coaching, especially after having to wait nearly a decade for that second change.

Again, this all might be a moot point for us here because reports are he is going to the Colts, but I will say that I believe McDaniels won’t be the same guy when given a second chance.