The McDaniels/Xanders Era, Unraveling The Threads

robert ethanCorrespondent IMay 5, 2010

DENVER - JANUARY 03: A Broncos fan holds a sign expressing his sentiments about head coach Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos as the Broncos were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs at Invesco Field at Mile High on January 3, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

No first year head coach and general manager in recent memory have come under the fire that Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders have in Denver in one short year. Let's take a deeper look at the early returns on the changing of the guard.

From a won/loss point of view, the Broncos were stagnant last season under new management and a new quarterback. Off the top, most fans would probably have been content with that, given the esteem accorded Mike Shanahan and Jay Cutler around the league. However, the manner in which the team arrived at their .500 level in 2009 left a lot of fans dissatisfied, and McDaniels and Xanders still under the gun. True, Kyle Orton ended the season with better numbers than Jay Cutler overall, but a 6-0 start fading to an 8-8 finish failed to win over the city for any of the prinicipals involved. Neither the Bronco's own #1 pick, (Knowshon Moreno), or the #1 they received in the Cutler deal (Robert Ayers) set the world on fire in their first year. The clubs other two high profile offensive stars (Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler) were both agitating to follow their buddy Cutler out of town.

Marshall was dealt for a second round pick in 2010 (#43 overall) and a second rounder in 2011. Scheffler was given away for a fifth round pick, the same price the club paid for QB Brady Quinn earlier. Essentially a Scheffler for Quinn deal. Scheffler and Cutler came up together and a lot of Tony's success hinged on his chemistry with Jay. Marshall was part of the same 2006 class and though he maintained his numbers with Orton at the helm, there was the sense that he might not have the same success with another QB in the future. Overall, at this point in time, Josh and Brian had Kyle Orton, Robert Ayers, Brady Quinn, two second round picks and a third to show for their three offensive mainstays.

At the draft, the team first dealt the second #1 pick acquired in the Cutler deal (#11 overall) back to #13 to acquire an extra 4th round pick. Players taken in this area included OT Anthony Davis, (not a likely target with Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris on hand), Ryan Matthews, (a very similar player to Knowshon Moreno), Brandon Graham (a very similar player to Robert Ayers), and Earl Thomas (very similar to Alponso Smith the DB the team took a year earlier with the pick they exchanged to the Seahawks who took Thomas). From #13, the team dealt back again to #24 acquiring two extra 3rd round choices. Net at this point was #24 overall in round one, two extra third round picks and a fourth round pick. At 22 overall the club got nervous about getting their primary target DeMaryius Thomas and moved up, giving back the extra #4. At #25, they made their boldest move, giving up the second rounder acquired in the Marshall deal, along with one of the extra thirds acquired earlier, and the extra fourth to take Tim Tebow. At this point, the exchange was Orton, Ayers, Quinn, Thomas, Tebow, a third and second round pick for Cutler, Marshall, and Scheffler. The third rounder was ultimately spent on Eric Decker to serve as insurance at WR, while the second round pick will be used next year.