OK, Josh McDaniels, show us what you’ve got.
The time has come for the 33-year-old hotshot head coach of the Denver Broncos to silence all the critics and prove that he is the second coming when his team opens training camp Friday at Dove Valley.
New quarterback Kyle Orton will be there. All the rookies—OK, we’re still waiting on first-rounders Knowshon Moreno and Robert Ayers—will be in attendance. Shoot, hotheaded wide receiver Brandon Marshall is even here.
But make no bones about it. Even with all the free agents brought in this offseason, all the rookies—and there are plenty of them, 10 in all—and all the holdovers from the Mike Shanahan regime, when the first of two practices starts Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., all eyes will be on McDaniels.
Hoodie Junior, as he’s been affectionately called as a reference to his mentor, New England’s Bill Belichick, has turned Broncos Country upside down ever since he was named head coach in January.
Now, all things considered, that may not be such a bad thing. Consider that the Broncos were the first team in NFL history to blow a three-game division lead with three games remaining last year, and had a defense with more holes than swiss cheese, change may be a good thing.
But his very public spat with incumbent quarterback Jay Cutler is what comes to mind first and foremost when people think about McDaniels. Almost as quickly as McDaniels arrived in time, Cutler had a one-way ticket out, courtesy of a blockbuster deal with the Chicago Bears that brought Orton into the fold.
Behind Cutler and Marshall, the 2008 Broncos had an offense that was second to none when it came to moving the ball between the 20s. It was getting into the end zone that was a problem. Hopefully, McDaniels and his offensive prowess can fix that problem.
But he’ll have to do that without the services of Cutler. He’ll have to do that with an injury-proned Marshall, who despite demanding a trade and having concerns with both the new head coach and the training staff, reported to camp on time.
That said, maybe McDaniels can keep the offensive chugging along with a more balanced attack than what Denver was able to utilize last season, after a plethora of running back injuries rattled the team. That’s of course depended on Moreno signing his rookie deal and getting into camp.
Come Friday, Broncos fans will get to see for themselves whether McDaniels was the right choice to replace Shanahan. For his sake, I hope so.