For a decade and a half Mike Shanahan has been stalking the sidelines of Mile High Stadium and Invesco Field.
He was a master at finding running backs in the sixth and seventh rounds and magically turning them into 1,000 yard backs and Super Bowl MVPs. He combined a superior running game with a fast paced, down the field style passing game orchestrated by John Elway for many years, followed up by Brian Griese, Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler.
While Griese and Plummer struggled with Shanahan's offense it seemed Shanahan found his rythm again in Jay Cutler.
At the end of 2008 Shanahan was abrubtly fired by the Broncos and replaced by Josh McDaniels. Much of Shanahan's staff was released as well, which played a part in the subsequent trade involving Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton.
McDaniels, now the 12th coach in Broncos history, has put a new staff in place.
He comes from excellent stock having spent the last eight seasons as part of the New England Patriots coaching staff, helping the team win three Super Bowls, four AFC Championships and six AFC East division titles.
In the three seasons from 2006-2008 McDaniels served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach directing an offense that led the NFL in points per game (28.8). His offense also ranked second in the league in yards per game (370.8) and had the third fewest turnovers with 63.
He grew up in the Bill Belichick coaching tree rather quickly being recognized as someone who could adapt to adversity and come out smelling like a rose.
With a season-ending knee injury to Tom Brady in week 1 of the 2008 season the Patriots were looking at a tough road. McDaniels was relegated to using a backup, Matt Cassell, who had not started a game since high school. Under McDaniels tutelage the Patriots finished the season with an NFL-best 356 first downs and ranked fifth in the NFL in yards per game (365.4).
In 2007, McDaniels helped coach the Pats to a perfect 16-0 regular season record and boasted one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. That season New England set records for most points scored (589/36.8 per game) and touchdowns (75).
With all these record numbers one would imagine McDaniels offensive style as very aggressive with long passes down the field attacking the defensive secondary.
This isn't the case though, he is more recognized for playing a controlled, short passing offense combined with a run game that does just enough to move the chains. His former offense with the Patriots scored most of their points through the air, but most of those record first downs came via the run.
Fans in Denver are definitely in for a style change, and if McDaniels has his way the points will definitely pile up.
In 2008 Denver finished ranked near the bottom in almost every defensive category. Thus, the surprise when they used the 12th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft to take running back Knowshon Moreno. The team used its subsequent picks to take a slew of defensive players.
Denver also hired NFL coaching veteran Mike Nolan as its new defensive coordinator. While he was most recently the San Francisco 49ers head coach, his days as defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens solidified him as one of the top defense minds in the game.
Nolan played a key role in developing the nasty defenses in Baltimore with guys like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.
So Broncos fans, new faces and new philosophies await us on both sides of the ball. There is much to look forward to if these guys can be as successful in Denver as they were in their previous lives.
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