The Josh McDaniels era was a blip on the radar in Broncos Country
The biggest villain in Broncos history is back. Josh McDaniels is once again a head coach in the NFL and he’ll be leading the Broncos oldest rival, the Raiders.
It’s almost perfect. More than a decade after McDaniels was fired in Denver, Broncos Country’s disdain for McDaniels is as passionate ever.
McDaniels tenure in Denver was so bad people thought it would set the organization back for years. Only thing was, the damage from McDaniels was short lived and nonexistent.
McDaniels came to Denver and immediately feuded with franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. Reports were that McDaniels attempted to trade Cutler in hopes of landing Matt Cassel. McDaniels coached Cassel in New England and for some reason wanted him in Denver.
Cutler was furious and he demanded a traded. The Broncos sent Cutler and a fifth-round pick to the Bears and received two first-round picks, a third-round pick, quarterback Kyle Orton and a world of embarrassment. In his first few months, McDaniels managed to trade away the quarterback many felt would lead the Broncos back to the Super Bowl.
McDaniels couldn’t possibly do anything worse than trading the franchise quarterback, right?
On Draft night 2009, McDaniels pulled off one of the dumbest trade in NFL history. Inexplicably, McDaniels traded a 2010 first-round pick to the Seahawks in exchange for a 2009 second-round pick. That’s right, McDaniels traded a first-round pick for a second-round pick. Straight up. What a mess
With that coveted second-round pick, McDaniels drafted cornerback Alphonso Smith. Smith didn’t last in Denver and was traded after his rookie season. The Seahawks used the first-round pick to draft Earl Thomas. LOL.
After a very tumultuous offseason, McDaniels shocked the world leading the Broncos to a 6-0 start. For those six games, McDaniels was the next big thing. The honeymoon collapsed and after starting 6-0. McDaniels would win only five more games as Broncos head coach.
McDaniels second offseason was just as eventful. The Broncos traded star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, parted ways with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, and made questionable personnel decisions like cutting linebacker Andra Davis and trading for quarterback Brady Quinn.
Once McDaniels second season began, things got bad. The Broncos were blown out by the Raiders at home, 59-14 in Week 7. The following week, the Broncos lost in London to the 49ers. In the week leading up to the 49ers game, a member of the Broncos organization had been caught filming 49ers practice, which is cheating. The filming didn’t work, because the Broncos managed to lose. While all of this was going on, negotiations fell apart on a contract extension for Champ Bailey.
Fans cleared out of the stadium at halftime of a home loss to the Rams. McDaniels would be fired from the Broncos after Week 13 of the 2010 season. McDaniels started as Broncos head coach in 2009 and couldn’t make it to the end of 2010.
McDaniels was so bad in Denver, he had to reference it in his opening press conference with the Raiders this past week.
Part of McDaniels’ problem was he was given control over the roster. Had he just been the coach, his people skills would have still ruined him, but it would not have looked as disastrous.
As bad as it was with McDaniels, there were no real long-term effects on the organization. McDaniels had an excellent draft in 2010. Demaryius Thomas, Tim Tebow, JD Walton, Zane Beadles, and Eric Decker all played key roles in the Broncos return to winning.
The Broncos made the playoffs and won the AFC West for five consecutive seasons after McDaniels was fired. In 2012, the Broncos signed Peyton Manning and Broncos fans experienced an incredible four year run that ended with a Super Bowl win.
McDaniels time in Denver was an embarrassment, but we laugh at it now because it was inconsequential. Surprisingly, nothing McDaniels did set the Broncos back. The Broncos recovered just fine.
Part of the reason the Broncos were just fine was because they had new leadership. John Elway returned, Brian Xanders had more control and John Fox was hired as head coach.
George Paton in one season has proven to be a general manager than John Elway has been in recent years. Hopefully, Nathaniel Hackett can bring excitement back to the Broncos
It’s been bad for Broncos fans since 2016, but as we saw with the post-McDaniels Broncos, a turnaround does not have to be a five-year process. Good decision making can return the Broncos to contention sooner than later.
Hopefully, this new regime in Denver has us looking back one day not feeling so bad about the last six years, just like we now laugh at the Josh McDaniels era.