At first glance, it looked like Josh McDaniels really didn't need Jay Cutler after the Broncos started the season at 6-0.
However, now we know McDaniels is 100% responsible for the Broncos' tumble out of the playoff race. The Broncos' record over the last 10 games was a miserable 2-8.
How could so much change so quickly in the Mile High City?
It's simple. McDaniels was overconfident in his ability to beat any team at any time. He was quoted saying that his team could always find a way to beat any team.
But then McDaniels' offense began to show signs of weakness. McDaniels' weird decision to sit Orton for the start of a big game against San Diego and then insert him into the lineup after Chris Simms spotted the Chargers a 10-0 lead was indicative of the questionable offensive decisions that cost the Broncos a playoff berth.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan was the real reason for the tremendous start to the season. He took a gutty group of veterans in the secondary and mixed them with a lot of youth and talent in a new 3-4 defense to confuse opposing offenses.
McDaniels got way too much credit too early for their good start and now his reputation in Denver is being questioned, again. Jay Cutler was spot on in his displeasure of McDaniels attempting to trade him. It was obvious McDaniels wanted his way regardless of his decisions' effect on the team.
Cutler was one of the most coveted young quarterbacks in the league heading into this season. Mike Shanahan had worked with Cutler and the Vandy product was finally beginning to really understand the West Coast offense before Shanahan was canned by owner Pat Bowlen.
Cutler was a Pro Bowl quarterback during the 2008 season. But McDaniels wanted Matt Cassel on his team because of their working relationship in New England, and he knew that Bill Belichick was going to trade him.
It was a very childish move on McDaniels' part to attempt to trade a talented quarterback such as Cutler as soon as he was hired as head coach. A new coach should be looking to earn the respect and work with his Pro-Bowl quarterback, not going behind his back and talking with his former organization.
After this past week in which he suspended his best two pass catchers on the team, I officially believe his ego has cost Denver this season. Other coaches in this league deal with giant locker-room egos and figure out a way to talk things out without a suspension.
In this case, McDaniels suspended Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler because they were not in the same mind set that he was. Marshall was injured and McDaniels pretty much called him soft in an interview with the Denver Post. As a result, Marshall was benched, which was a huge factor in the Broncos season-ending loss to Kansas City.
The Scheffler suspension was reportedly for "attitude reasons". Tony Scheffler has long been a great threat as a tight end for Denver and was also one of Jay Cutler's best friends. It is not surprising that he was the other person suspended for the game. He has probably been heated with the coach since the whole Cutler fiasco and it spiraled out of control after the Philadelphia loss. Scheffler has been lost in McDaniels offense and has not had nearly the amount of chances he saw in Shanahan's schemes.
In the end, it looks like Pat Bowlen got brainwashed by McDaniels in his interview to become coach of the Broncos.
And if you thought the backlash in Denver was bad when they traded away Cutler, wait for the next couple years.
With McDaniels at the helm, these suspensions and locker room scuffles are just going to get worse. This team has collapsed three straight seasons now and that doesn't look like it's changing any time soon. Losing to Oakland, San Diego, and Kansas City at home was so embarrassing for Broncos fans and their owner that they really are questioning this coach.
Today, they literally got stomped by a three-win Chiefs team in a must-win, playoff type game. If that isn't a sign that they should cut this cord immediately than I will never know what is.