Josh McDaniels spits in the face of conventional wisdom. He is an evil genius.
It is generally considered a rule to live by the following axiom: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The 2009 Denver Broncos have obviously never heard of this saying before.
I will attempt to explain just what went wrong and went right with this year's Denver Broncos.
At the risk of beating a dead horse (no pun intended), we will start with Jay Cutler. Jay Cutler was drafted out of Vanderbilt in 2006 and is highly regarded as the best quarterback from that draft class that also includes Vince Young, Kellen Clemens, Matt Leinart, Tarvaris Jackson and Brodie Croyle.
Cutler and Young have the distinction of being the only two quarterbacks from this draft class to be selected to the Pro Bowl. Vince Young has since lost the starting job in Tennessee to former Giants Super Bowl loser, Kerry Collins.
Cutler had a great season in 2008.
Cutler threw for 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and had a passer rating of 86. He also rushed for 200 yards, and was sacked just 11 times.
The Broncos finished the season with an 8-8 record and Pat Bowlen immediately fired two time Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan, and replaced him with Coach Josh McDaniels, former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.
McDaniel's first order of business?
Trade the franchise quarterback for what would amount to Kyle Orton, Alphonso Smith and Richard Quinn.
Next, McDaniels enters the NFL draft for the first time as a head coach, and proclaims he only has 100 players on his board, despite most teams having as many as 500 players. Bold strategy; let's see if it pays off.
The most immediate concern is, of course, the defense. The Broncos finished 29th in total defense surrendering an average of 28 points per game. The Broncos are going to commit to the 3-4 defense in 2009 and need pass rushing specialist on the outside, along with big interior lineman and inside linebackers to stop the rush.
McDaniels drafted one defensive end in Robert Ayers.
Ayers is also too small to fit the system, and has zero use in coverage. Not to mention he was a one-year starter, and the Broncos still don't have a nose tackle. Did I mention that Ayers only had three sacks in his senior year?
Did I mention that the Broncos traded next years first round draft pick to get a nickel corner in Alphonso Smith.
Also McDaniels traded both of his third round draft choices to draft a blocking tight end!
The only prize the Broncos took from the draft was Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, who should finally put a face on the stable of running backs the Broncos use currently.
McDaniels has to fix the defense through free agency. The Broncos were giving up 7.7 yards per pass play, and 5.0 yards per rush.
McDaniels acquires an over-the-hill Brian Dawkins, and signs the 35-(36 in October)-year-old to a five-year deal.
Then, he signs inside linebacker and Cleveland Browns reject Andra Davis to start at inside linebacker alongside talented D.J. Williams.
To play nose tackle, he signs Ronald Fields, a guy who couldn't even start for the 49ers and has only nine career starts.
To play the defensive end across from Robert Ayers will either be Jarvis Moss (the horror) or Ryan McBean (oh, the horror!) a guy who has played in just one game. Jarvis Moss will most likely have to transition outside to be a rush linebacker, even though he has no pass-rush ability. Leaving the only capable player, Elvis Dumervil, to play rush linebacker on the other side.
Other notable signings included aging defensive backs Andre Goodman, and Renaldo Hill. No one starting in the Broncos secondary is under the age of 31.
Strike three, four, five and six.
McDaniels is breaking the land speed record for ruining a football team.
Or is he a true evil genius the likes of which this league has never seen?
Let's check the scorecard. The offense has gotten worse, the defense has gotten a lot worse, and nothing has been done on special teams.
More baffling, still, is how Broncos fans seem convinced that not only is McDaniels doing a good job, but actually believe that the Broncos will be better than they were last year!
Kyle Orton is not Jay Cutler. Cutler threw 18 inceptions last year. This is true, but his interception percentage was only 2.9 percent compared to Orton's 2.6 percent. Asking Orton to throw the ball more often and for more yards will undoubtedly lead to more interceptions and an overall lack of production in the offense.
Orton is a system quarterback. He is a clock management-type quarterback. He has no arm. This does not bode well for a pass-happy Broncos team.
Broncos fans cannot honestly say that they are better off without a guy who threw for 4,500 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. Not to mention losing a coach who knows the division like the back of his hand in Mike Shanahan.
A true evil genius.