Despite Cutler Controversy, McDaniels' Biggest Challenge Is Yet To Come

Jesse SchafferCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2009

Enough with the McDaniels-Cutler controversy already. The next person to think of it as the cataclysmic end to the Denver Broncos franchise should quietly escort themselves out of the building before they embarrass themselves.

Yes, we were all shocked to learn that McDaniels wanted to replace Jay Cutler with Matt Cassell. Cutler whined, the media whined, the fans whined and in the process, all that anyone got was a mixed bag of betrayal and hurt feelings.

Whether McD and JC can kiss and make up this week remains to be seen, but the fact that neither of them really has much of a choice should mean that they can and will decide to get along.


So where does this leave the Broncos? Even if Cutler resumes his duties as the franchise quarterback, there are still far more questions than answers. I like most of the free agent pickups, but its going to take a lot more than an aging Brian Dawkins and a gimpy Correll Buckhalter to revive this once proud franchise.

Just looking at my list, Denver still needs immediate help at defensive end, defensive tackle, and linebacker, and that is if Brandon Marshall avoids a lengthy suspension and Matt Prater can prove that he is still a worthy option at kicker.

Don’t look for many more solutions to come via free agency. McDaniels already rooted through most of the decent players available at his team’s need positions, and while he could turn back to his New England beginnings once more for a guy like defensive tackle Mike Wright, it just won’t be enough. Denver missed out on both Chris Canty and Igor Olshanksy, leaving few defensive players left over with experience in the 3-4 defense.


McD has made a big splash so far with all of his signings, and he sent shockwaves through the league when Jay Cutler’s name came up in trade talks, but it will be his choices in the upcoming draft that will ultimately define his success as head coach.

Despite all of his accomplishments, Mike Shannahan’s drafts from 2001-05 produced only two current starters on the team: linebacker D.J. Williams and guard Ben Hamilton. Denver has won just 24 games since they traded up to snag Cutler three years ago. Any more questions?


If all goes well this week, the young coach and the younger quarterback will see eye-to-eye again and try to move past their rookie mistakes. A couple more role players may be added for depth, and eventually most of us will feel better about this shaky, if not heavily entertaining, beginning to the new era of Broncos’ football.

In the end, however, the biggest tests will come on draft day. If Josh McDaniels is sincere about winning in the present, he must focus on making good for the future.

His job will depend on it.