osh McDaniels is no stranger to scrutiny from fans and media; neither is Kyle Orton. This week it was their turn to dish out some criticism.
Their target: Tennessee Titans' players and the coaching staff.
Following the Broncos' win Sunday, Orton had some scathing words to say about Cortland Finnegan after the Titans cornerback allegedly punched helmet-less Denver guard Chris Kuper.
Orton was not alone in his criticism of the Tennessee organization and its reputation for tough, sometimes illegal play. McDaniels joined in on the debate, condemning the Titans' play and suggesting that the Tennessee coaching staff plays a role by either teaching or allowing its players to get away with cheap shots.
If these postgame remarks tell us anything, it is that the Denver coach and his quarterback are part of a united front.
Orton was quoted after the game Sunday saying, "If that's the type of player Cortland Finnegan wants to be, well then he's a cheap player, not a good player." Orton wasn't finished; he had some words for the entire Titans team: "You always hear about how tough they are and all that stuff. I don't think they're tough. I think they're cheap."
Monday's press conference featured some equally condemning remarks by Coach McDaniels:
"I was proud of our team because we knew that was the kind of game it was going to be. You can put any tape you want to of Tennessee and there's going to be 10 penalties. You either coach it or you allow it to happen. That's how I look at that. Our guys did a great job of keeping their poise and composure and not getting drawn into a big unsportsmanlike game because I know that's what they were trying to entice us into doing."
Orton and McDaniels know a thing or two about criticism since both have been the subject of much scrutiny since entering the league.
Kyle Orton has never been given proper respect during his six-year NFL career. His rookie season in Chicago, Orton lad the Bears to a 10-5 record only to be replaced by Rex Grossman at halftime of the season finale. Orton was then demoted the following year to third string to make room for Brian Griese to serve as Grossman's backup.
Orton was later traded away to the Broncos as essentially a throw-in in the Jay Cutler trade. Orton was again given little credit, as critics expected Denver to win between three to five games during the 2009 season. Denver topped that total by Week 6, starting 6-0.
Josh McDaniels has fallen under a tremendous amount of questioning during his short tenure as Denver Broncos head coach. The McDaniels era in Denver started with turmoil as the young coach was reportedly shopping star QB Jay Cutler. Cutler became offended and demanded a trade. Cutler was shipped off to Chicago for Orton and two first-round picks.
McDaniels also traded fan favorite Peyton Hillis, star TE Tony Scheffler, and Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall. That was four beloved Broncos shipped out of town in less than two years, not to mention some questionable draft decisions.
Orton and McDaniels share their history of being critiqued; they also share a bond now as coach and quarterback. McDaniels had faith in Orton when almost no one else did. McDaniels chose to trade with Chicago because he wanted Orton. Now Kyle Orton has posted the second highest passing yardage total for the first four games in NFL history.
You can say what you want about McDaniels' arrogance and attitude, draft decisions and personnel philosophy, but the one thing McDaniels is building is a cohesive team. He has looked like a genius at times (6-0 start last year, Orton's/Cutler's play so far), and at other times he has looked like an arrogant punk (trading Hillis for Brady Quinn, trading a first round pick for Alphonso Smith).
The moves McDaniels has made have been very controversial and highly criticized by the media and fans. However, McDaniels is building a strong team atmosphere in Denver. He is putting his complete faith in his players, backing them and creating a tight-knit team. So when Kyle Orton criticized Tennessee, McDaniels was right there with him, backing up his starting quarterback.
McDaniels continues to gain respect from his players, and when you hear veterans like Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins talk about their young coach, you'll hear nothing but rave reviews. Only time will tell if the McDaniels era is a success or failure in Denver, but for the time being this team seems headed in the right direction.