If the 2009 Denver Broncos were fast food, I would call them a "Happy Meal" thus far into the campaign. Pleasant. Satisfying. Fun. Making their fans, you know, happy.
Oh, and yes I did mean those Denver Broncos.
Six months ago the Broncos were a franchise in turmoil. The team had fired its stalwart head coach, Mike Shanahan, who led to the franchise to its two Super Bowl titles. Then Denver replaced him with a 33-year-old offensive whiz kid, Josh McDaniels, who had never been a head coach at any level.
To make matters worse, franchise quarterback Jay Cutler was trying force his way out of town after hearing McDaniels and the team listened to offers for another quarterback, presumably sending Cutler to another team.
Once Cutler was traded to the Chicago Bears, wide receiver Brandon Marshall suddenly demanded a trade, saying he didn't trust the Broncos. McDaniels had no choice but to suspend Marshall for a good chunk of the preseason for conduct detrimental to the team.
What a way for McDaniels to start his NFL head coaching career.
He had more pressure on him than anyone, and he had not even coached a single game. People were calling for his head before the season started and others thought he'd be one (year) and done.
It's amazing what a 3-0 start can do for your image, isn't it?
During all this drama, McDaniels kept saying his players were ignoring the potential distractions and focusing on doing their jobs and making sure everyone was putting forth a "team first" attitude. The suspension of Marshall proved McDaniels meant that.
However, many fans and media types blew that off as McDaniels saying what any coach would say—regardless of what was really going on in the background. Thanks to these distractions, said the critics, the Broncos would be lucky to win five games.
Well, we're not even a quarter of the way through the season and the Broncos are already past the halfway point to five wins and many people are in shock.
Because the players actually are buying into McDaniels' system. Everyone is focusing on doing their jobs and trusting their teammates to do theirs. McDaniels' a system that has paid off in the form of three Super Bowl rings for the Patriots and it's one that has the Broncos starting fast out of the gate.
The players believe. They're smiling on the sidelines, and McDaniels even got a Gatorade shower after Denver's victory over the Browns last week.
See, the players notice the little things. McDaniels let the top participants in offseason workouts to create a playlist on an iPod to be played during practices in training camp. Instead of simulating crowd noise, the players heard all kind of music from country to the late Michael Jackson. It was a touch the players definitely appreciated.
Now, what about the fans?
Those who were calling for McDaniels' job from the onset of the Cutler situation have been mysteriously silent as Cutler leads the NFL in interceptions and Orton has yet to throw a pick after three solid games. Fans are jumping on the Broncos bandwagon by the bunches.
That saying that "winning cures everything"? True, in this case. Very true.
Now, we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves. The Broncos face a killer schedule the next few weeks, starting this weekend with a battered but potent Cowboys team coming to Invesco.
However, if the Broncos remain as tight knit as they seem to be right now, they will weather this storm. They enter this tough stretch as a team, and they will emerge from it as a team.
Buckle up, Broncos fans. It's going to be a fun ride.