Yes, you read the title right.
For a little of my background—I first got interested in football during the Elway/Davis years.
The first Super Bowl I ever cared about, Super Bowl XXXII (Broncos/Packers), I listened to on the radio. It was good to be a Denver fan those days. Mike Shanahan was the man. Elway, Davis, Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe, and Ed McCaffrey were pretty much a dream team.
Yeah, I know what it WAS like.
I also know what it was like in the years since Elway's final Super Bowl.
I had expectations for Jake Plummer—he disappointed.
I had much higher expectations for Jay Cutler—sigh.
I had hoped against hope that Brandon Marshall would settle down and become a mature player and person.
When I heard the fateful news that Mike Shanahan had been cut, my initial reaction was "well, there goes a shot at a championship."
But I couldn't be mad. He had gone 24-24 in his last three seasons (the last one included a disappointing late-season collapse—sound familiar anyone?)
Then when I heard our new coach would be a whiz-kid type of offensive coordinator from New England, my hopes rose just a little.
I've always loved to watch New England's offense, and when they went 11-5 with Matt Cassel, I thought it quite a shame that they didn't make the playoffs.
Then lightning struck twice.
Cutler gone for...Kyle Orton? Well, there went the chance at a super bowl again.
Marshall acting up. Rats. He'll be gone in a few weeks or be benched the rest of the season. "Rebuilding," anyone?
Then, something ridiculous happens—lightning strikes again (this time in a good way), and the Broncos roll. As far as the world's concerned, we're in the playoffs by week six.
Then lightning strikes again. Four game losing streak. Blazes. What's up here, guys? I guess I shouldn't have been surprised there. It IS Kyle Orton, right? He could have beat the Redskins, but an injury forced him out. Oh well.
Then it appears the ship gets righted but...here we go again.
A Shanahan-esque collapse ends the season just the way last season ended, at 8-8, missing the playoffs.
But I realized something changed this year—I was EXCITED about the Broncos again.
Not that I didn't care during the end of the Shanahan era. I absolutely did. It had just lost some luster.
Along comes a guy younger than a good portion of his roster, wears his heart on his sleeve, and suddenly, lightning strikes.
Good, bad, whatever. It was lightning. The ups were incredible. The downs were not just disheartening—they were gut-wrenching.
And that, folks, is why I'm proud to admit that I'm drinking the Josh McDaniels Kool-Aid.
It's not for numbers—you guys can go on about that as much as you want.
Offense, defense, useless yardage vs. red zone yardage, bubble screen vs. big play, 8-8 vs. 8-8. Patriots guys vs. the old guard.
Maybe you guys didn't feel it. But I sure as heck did.
There was something electric. It wasn't in Kyle Orton. It wasn't in Brandon Marshall or Eddie Royal. It wasn't in Champ Bailey. It wasn't even in Elvis Dumervil or Brian Dawkins.
It was in little-hoodie on the sidelines. It was maddening at times. It was euphoric at other times. It was complaining about the bubble-screen but watching it WORK! Yes, it was even in losing to a game-winning drive from JaMarcus-apathetic-Russel.
All I'm sayin' is that McDaniels brought some lightning with him in 2009, and I'm looking for more of that in 2010.
If he's not getting better in a few seasons, then deal with him. But give the guy some slack, and appreciate the intensity he brings to the game—and to the sidelines.
Have some Kool-aid?