The most popular opinion one can have today is that Josh McDaniels and his maniacal ego has really devastated the Denver Broncos. As I look all around the internet, there is story after story of his arrogance and stubborn nature.
Let me say unequivocally, I was a very big Jay Cutler fan. I couldn't wait until the other "noodle armed" Jake Plummer was pushed out and the cannon known as Cutler was given the keys to run the west coast offense of Mike Shanahan. I also was deeply indebted to Mike Shanahan for ending the humiliation that Super Bowls had become to the Denver Broncos. I will always be thankful for that.
I even remained a Jay Cutler fan when he foolishly said he had a better arm than John Elway. I loved John's retort that Jay's arm was better than John's now. I was bothered by that cocky demeanor. Elway is considered by many to be the most dangerous QB ever, if not the best of all time. Elway owned quite a few trips to the big game and two Super Bowl trophies. Did arm strength get them there or did little things like renegotiating his contract several times to allow the Broncos to sign more players? Being an outspoken team leader and one of the hardest workers on the team?
In other words, Elway proved his stature on and off the field. The old school way, walking the walk. Jay has a world of talent but is very impatient, doesn't let the play develop, then locks on to one receiver too often and seems to get very edgy in big spots, sulks after he makes bad plays and criticized his team when they had failed. For Chicago's sake I hope he matures passed that or they will lament all the draft choices they gave away.
It seems to be forgotten by most people that the day Pat Bowlen let Mike Shanahan go, Jay was angry and wanted out of the Bronco franchise. He then wanted his choice of offensive coordinators, Jeremy Bates. I do not blame a QB for wanting continuity, but he is just a player, he cannot and should not be given that much say.
It seems to also be forgotten that when the whole Cassell story broke that several NFL sources confirmed that McDaniels took a call from his friend and ex-boss Bill Bellichek inquiring about a three way trade sending Cutler to Tampa Bay and Cassell to Denver. The sources say it died in the Denver offices without serious consideration.
It is there that Josh McDaniels "earned" the reputation as a liar to Cutler, Bus Cook and much of the media. Let me ask you, those of you who truly believe it was McDaniels lying to Cutler that caused this whole thing, a simple question. If Josh McDaniels was the liar he is accused of being, what would his answer have been to Jay Cutler when Jay asked him if he would ever trade him? If Josh was the liar everyone says, he would have looked Cutler in the eye and then said "No I would never trade you" as he turned around and shopped him around the league knowing Bus Cook would hear every rumor.
Instead his reply was "I will do whatever it takes to improve this team". He has been criticized for that statement as well. But that should have been his answer. It is his job is to do whatever it takes to improve the Broncos.
Let me ask you, if you are the Denver Broncos and the Patriots call and say, take it or leave it, Tom Brady for Cutler and 3rd round pick. You passing on it? What if it was Peyton Manning? My point is McDaniels left the door open for anything that would make the Broncos better, he told the truth despite knowing what Cutler's reaction would have been.
As I watched the next few weeks develop I was saddened to realize Jay Cutler would be going elsewhere but after examining his agent's methods and Jay's continual contradictions (I wanna be traded, I never wanted to be traded) I knew he had to go. When the drama ended with his refusal to call the owner, Pat Bowlen, it was done. I was going to miss the arm strength definitely, but the man, not so much.
In anxiousness, I started to study the ways and methods of Josh McDaniels. I watched as he brought in players. As a fan of Shanahan, I had gotten quite discouraged with his desire to take risks in character with players that all blew up in our faces. As I watched McDaniels, I was impressed as he went for players with versatility and character. Men who loved the game of football with a passion. The more I studied the more impressed I became.
I was rudely awakened that my view was not shared by many others in the main stream media or the Denver Post. Most of the columns, interviews and comments by fans I read made McDaniels out to be an egotist with absolutely no idea what he was doing.
I went back and re-evaluated what he done. I am not too proud to think I know it all.
He had changed our defensive philosophy 100% and brought in coaches that were marked improvements over what we had here with Mike.
The best coaches our staff had before, Bobby Turner (RB's) Rick Dennison (OL) and Keith Burns (asst ST) were all kept in place. To me that is not what an egotist does. McDaniels recognized these men as good coaches and knew the staff would be better served by keeping them.
The signing of Dawkins, Daryl Reid, Correll Buckhalter and others showed me the type of men we were going to put on the field. Everyone of them had glowing words for McDaniels. Add to that list, Rod Smith, John Elway and Champ Bailey and I felt secure that most of the dislike with McDaniels comes out of the fear of losing Cutler and having Kyle Orton take his place. I totally understand that.
We all know about Josh McDaniels history at New England. He spent some time as a defensive and offensive coach and then became the offensive co-ordinator. In his time there he was a part of their Super Bowls and called the plays for the greatest offensive season in NFL history. In 2008, after losing one of the top two QB's in the NFL, Tom Brady, McDaniels helped Matt Cassell guide the Patriots to an 11-5 record. This feat is more amazing to me than the record setting season because Cassell never even started in college.
I bring that up for one reason.
Kyle Orton has had more success in college and the pro's than Matt Cassell. It was after McDaniels watched hours of film he desired Orton be thrown into the Cutler trade giving up a 5th round pick to get him.
I truly believe Kyle Orton is going to surprise a lot of people this year. If you have watched his preseason he has made too many turnovers but in college and the pros, Orton was never a turnover QB. He won't be this season either at least I would be very surprised if he was.
Josh McDaniels can be accused of many things but no one deny he has a great eye for QB's and a great method of training them. That is unless Tom Brady, Matt Cassell, Kyle Orton, Chris Simms and Tom Brandstater are all lying too.
So despite what so many people have written, I see the Broncos being better, much better than last year. The preseason has shown they are growing on defense game by game. They have many weapons on offense (hopefully including Brandon Marshall) and a great offensive line. Kyle Orton only has to be the point guard and let McDaniels' play calling bewilder the defense like New England did so many times. Our field position this preseason is getting the results we needed for a few years from our special teams. But there is much improvement needed overall.
Our mental makeup will be much stronger than the team that dropped the last 3 games last year and had so many blowouts in the last 2 seasons. This will be because of the men and character Brian Xanders and Josh McDaniels have targeted to bring in.
So what do I see for the Denver Broncos in 2009?
I do see them being better, much better.
I also see their schedule as very tough. So better may not show up in the won/lost column.
I view the AFC West as the weakest division in the NFL so that is a sign of hope. I view the Chargers as beginning to lose that edge they had. I believe that is part the result of age and part the result of the two headed beast of Smith and Turner. I have grown in admiration for Phillip Rivers. He plays tough and plays hurt. His teammates love him. I respect that. LT is getting older and seem to be less effective. I was thrilled to watch him for so many years. In looking at the Chiefs and the Raiders, they are still a long way off. Pioli offers the Chiefs hope, I do not see any hope for the Raiders in the near future especially with the trouble they have on the coaching staff.
As for the Broncos, I believe the low water mark for Denver will be 8-8, I do believe if they improve as I expect they could reach 10-6.
I also expect a lot of requests for drug testing on me.
That's fine, this is only football, let's enjoy it.
It wouldn't be the first time I am wrong. How about you?