At the end of the Broncos' disappointing 2008 season, they fired long-time coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan was the longest-serving coach in franchise history. He was very successful in Denver, winning two Superbowls.
To replace Shanahan, the Broncos brought in former New England offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels. At the time, it looked like a good move to start rebuilding for the future.
McDaniels comes from a very successful organization in New England. There have been a handful of coaches who have left New England for head coaching jobs. Romeo Crennel, Al Groh, Eric Mangini, and Nick Saban have all come from the Bellichick coaching tree, and none of them have gone on to be successful head coaches in the NFL.
In three years as the Patriots offensive coordinator, McDaniels was very successful. In 2007, the Patriots offense set NFL records for most touchdowns and points scored.
Since becoming head coach of the Broncos, McDaniels has made a series of moves that have the Broncos heading in the wrong direction.
Shortly after arriving in Denver, McDaniels managed to drive one of the top young quarterbacks out of town. The Broncos traded Jay Cutler and a fifth round pick to the Bears; and in return they received a first round pick in the 2009 and 2010 drafts, along with a third round pick in '09.
Other than Cutler, McDaniels got rid of 10 other starters from the 2008 season.
At the beginning of his reign, McDaniels decided to make a difficult transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme.
In the 2009 draft McDaniels, did not acquire the right players to help make a successful transition to a 3-4 defense.
With the Broncos' first pick—12th overall—they selected Georgia running back, Knowshon Moreno, after already signing two veterans in free agency. The Broncos didn’t need another running back, but it was a good pick for the future.
With their second pick—18th overall—they selected Robert Ayers out of Tennessee. Ayers was not a great pass-rusher at the college level. This pick is not a good one for a team that is converting to a 3-4 defense, simply because he just doesn’t fit.
At the beginning of the second round, Denver traded their 2010 first round pick to the Seahawks to acquire nickel corner Alphonso Smith out of Wake Forest. The way things are shaping up, the pick is likely to be a Top 10 selection. Not a smart move.
With the 48th pick in the second round, McDaniels took free safety Darcell McBath, after already signing veterans Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill in free agency.
Late in the second round, he traded two third round picks to move up and get Richard Quinn, a blocking tight end. You never take a blocking tight end in the second round, and you most certainly don’t trade two third round picks for one—no matter how good he may be.
In the fourth round McDaniels drafted yet another free safety.
In the whole draft, McDaniels totally neglected to address the defensive line. The Broncos' defensive line has clearly been the weakest group on the whole team. You can’t play a 3-4 defense without a strong front. What was he thinking?
The Broncos look like they will, once again, be at the bottom of the league in defense.
After all this, things continue to get worse in Denver. The team’s best receiver, Brandon Marshall, has requested to be traded. Marshall has led the team in receptions the last two years with over 100 receptions each season. There could be a few reasons why Marshall wants to be traded.
One, Marshall sees the direction this franchise is headed and doesn’t want to be part of a losing team. Like most players in the NFL, Marshall wants to get paid. The best chance to get the most money is while his stock is high. He knows that, with Cutler gone, his production will likely decline. He either wants his money now, or he wants an opportunity to earn it somewhere else. If the Broncos lose Marshall it will just add to the problems McDaniels has created this offseason.
Who knows, maybe it's all part of McDaniels' genius master plan. Maybe he will surprise and prove everybody wrong.
After a successful 14 seasons under Mike Shanahan, the Mcdaniels Era looks to be a sad one in Denver.