Sorry Denver, Better Luck Next Coach

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Sorry Denver, Better Luck Next Coach

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Football is more comparable to chess than any other sport or activity, and there are more grandmasters right now than there ever were. Gone are the days where Lombardi could run the Packer sweep every five plays, or where Bill Walsh could shut down everybody by working the width of the field. In today’s NFL, they can figure out your entire system in around eight games, and you’d better have a backup plan.

 

            I hate to tell you Broncos fans, but we’ve been downloaded. Losing to the Redskins is like being beaten in practice by your cheerleaders. We’ll see if the New England braintrust has any ideas. Here are some reasons why I’m not too optimistic.

 

Bad Draft Decisions/Personnel Choices – Josh McDaniel inherited a team with an aging offensive line, a franchise quarterback, a decent secondary, good but undersized linebackers, and an undersized defensive line.

 

So what did he do? He got rid of the quarterback. Watch the Steelers game again. The safeties made great plays on the ball because they knew Orton was taking the checkdown read on nearly every play. He can’t make the other throws. That’s kind of a problem.

 

McDaniels uses his first round pick to draft a running back, which is the one that Denver hasn’t done in years, simply because the nature of the run blocking is the secret of the running attack. He drafts Ayers, inexplicably ignoring Rey Maualuga (or maybe its because of his really small draft board) and maybe half a dozen impact players on defense. In the second round he drafts an undersized corner when their biggest problem is stopping the run.

 

He makes the same mistake half of the NFL does, by rebuilding the back seven of their defense, and then trying to put scraps on their defensive line. The first year Denver switched to a 3-4 they got torched worse than ever and they didn't have the personnel for it, so of course he kept the scheme.Why are they running a 3-4 when they don’t have big nose tackles?

 

The Bill Belichick coaching tree doesn’t exist – There is no New England Braintrust. Its mostly Bill. People that leave the Kraft family end up like Fredo Corleone.

 

I think that Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis injured themselves on purpose so they didn’t have to answer questions how bad the quality of their teams. Nick Saban got out and Al Groh got put out. Jeff Davidson is the mastermind behind Jake Delhomme’s interceptions and Rob Ryan is the guru behind the Brown’s toothless 3-4. Scott Pioli is rebuilding the Kansas City Chiefs about as well as the government is rebuilding GM.

 

Josh McDaniels is yet another coach who thought he was smarter than the average bear and then realized that his brilliant plan was unstoppable for about six games and then the league caught onto him. The answer to his defense is simply running the no-huddle. The answer to his offense is merely shut the running and play underneath. In the end, the only question is whether he’ll have the humility to go back to the Patriots or coach in college.

 

It reminds me of the Minnesota offense in the 90's. It was a young Randy Moss and a sober Cris Carter, a great line, a criminally underrated back in Robert Smith, and from Brian Billick to Jeff George, coaches and players thought it was them that made the offense great. The Patriots are great, and its not because of the assistants. Its the greatest quarterback of our generation*, and the greatest coach of our generation.

 

The spectre of Mike Shanahan – The mastermind was a personal friend of Pat Bowlen, a man with a very high winning percentage and two Super Bowl rings. When he was fired, Bowlen was quietly devastated by the enormity of the decision.

 

When he hired McDaniels the discussion they had was about keeping their quarterback, which McDaniels assured him he was going to do, a week later, McDaniels tries to trade for Matt Cassel and Bowlen realizes that this kid will lie like a bear rug. After his inept draft, Bowlen likely now realized that despite Josh's confidence, there were glaring weaknesses in his approach and that the pressure was on all of them. Pat Bowlen was always thought of as a winner and a great owner to work for and he damaged that reputation with this move. If they win, everybody will eventually forget. But if they don't he looks really bad, and he doesn't strike as the type to take that lying down.

 

It’s going to be a long couple of years.

 

*More on this in a separate articles.

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