I want to know what Josh McDaniels said in his interview with Pat Bowlen. I've seen his press conferences and he strikes me as competent, but not charismatic the way other great coaches are.
He seems as arrogant, but in a way that indicated the kind of person who, when things started going straight to hell, would start looking for scapegoats to take the beating. I understand the exemplary resume and all of the Patriots offenses that he turned into buzz saws. But the rhetoric that he must have imparted in this interview must have been stupefying to the point of being historical. He must have been Shakespearean to convince Pat Bowlen, an aware owner, to give him total control and to pick his own flunky GM.
I think everyone in the NFL should be more dubious of the Bill Belichick school of coaching. The minute he won the Super Bowl in '01, he won the right of dominion over his organization. But it's inane to give the same benefit to his assistants before they coach a single game.
McDaniels should have been dancing in glee at the prospect of Jay Cutler running his offense. Instead, he tried to bring Matt Cassel, who cannot touch Cutler in terms of skills. Brandon Marshall following was, it seems now, inevitable.
I bet McDaniels would say that Jabar Gaffney could fill in. Ah-ha! That's why he was signed! Well, score one for the whiz kid, because I'm positive this was being planned all along.
What's the best way to impose your will on the team? Winning. It's not looking promising on that front. The defense was historically bad. The best way to fix it is to bring in competition to drive all the scrubs out. The Broncos drafted six offensive players as opposed to four on the defensive side. Knowshon Moreno needs to hurdle a lot of defenders, or the failure to sign a nose tackle—essential to a 3-4—will become glaring.
Successful coaches that were once Belichick's assistants include Nick Saban, Kirk Ferentz, Al Groh, and Charlie Weis. Now, all of these coaches were successful at the college level, where it is much more pragmatic to use the total control method, and Weis is still a bit of a stretch. Saban was an awful NFL coach, although he didn't have anything to dismantle like McDaniels did in Denver; he was simply screwed from the beginning. Groh was coach one year for the Jets, and now leads a mediocre Virginia program.
Unsuccessful coaches that were once Belichick's assistants include Eric Mangini (could change) and Romeo Crennel. Granted, there are only two real black marks, but again, there's not one success story in the NFL.
So, this all begs the question: How will history treat McDaniels? I sincerely hope it treats him well, because obviously any success he experiences will be shared by the Broncos and, subsequently, enjoyed by the fans. It's possible that all that has happened is factoring into some strategy that will transcend anything that preceded it, that it will be the coaching job of the new decade.
But a good coach should be pragmatic. And nothing about the coach's moves, from the sloppy coup for Matt Cassel to the disheartening interview that followed it, have been very pragmatic.