Denver Broncos: With Wade Phillips Fired, Is Josh McDaniels Next in Line?
Trial and error. It's a game that all NFL coaches must play.
For the most part, an entire season in professional football is a huge testament to this theory.
Take the Oakland Raiders for example, to begin the season the Raiders were sold on quarterback Jason Campbell, only to see the newly acquired passer fail, but then be brought back into the starting line up to strive in later weeks.
I guess while we're on the topic of the AFC West, we may as well talk about America's new No.1 laughing stock, the Denver Broncos.
If you're a fan of The Simpsons, perhaps creator Matt Groening saw this coming. Homer Simpson's line of "Oh, the Denver Broncos...?" is now synonymous with Denver's favorite team, even though this phrase could be used as an understatement in today's modern era.
So on the backhand of Wade Phillips' firing and office clean out in Dallas, now comes the exact same question directed at Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, who is skating on nothing but thin ice at Mile High Stadium right now.
The situation is simple, Josh McDaniel's has been issued enough rope already. With a 2-6 record on the year, somehow McDaniel's has managed to transform such a promising 2010 season, into a national disaster big enough to discourage even the National Guard.
What comes as more of a surprise though, is Denver's prominent bundle of talent. Those of you who know me well are well aware of my fondness for wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and quarterback Kyle Orton, two of the league's top tier offensive players this season.
Thinking of the Broncos without Lloyd and Orton is almost unimaginable.
And why is that?
Mainly because Denver would possibly be sitting with an 0-8 record on the year, instead of a couple of wins sitting firmly in their back pocket - even though the Broncos have only managed to maintain victories over the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans in 2010.
But seeing as though those two distant wins occurred early in the year, the time has come to move forward with the (new look?) Broncos of today.
If you're going to search Josh McDaniels' brain for answers, I suggest you break it down into three key points.
1. The Offense
Yes, Josh McDaniel's does have the privilege of coaching two of the leagues top players. What he doesn't benefit from though, is significant advantage that many head coaches are blessed with, a decent run game.
Since April, Denver's rush game has sunk faster than the Titanic. With second year player Knowshon Moreno missing a bundle of playing time due to injury, the Broncos saw it fitting to grasp for former New England Patriots Laurence Maroney, who has busted in the blink of an eye.
On the year both of these runners have only accumulated around 170 yards and 2 touchdowns. Does that get the job done? Of course not, however second string player Correll Buckhalter could at least rid some of the worries for the time being.
Taking exception for the run game, the Broncos offensive line has also been turbulent. Kyle Orton has been sacked 21 times in this years regular season, almost equaling his 2009 statistic of 29, only nine weeks into the year.
Some may say another years worth of drafting could solidify these issues, but to me, even a handful of rookie standouts can't fix this problem.
I just spoke about it, but Denver's drafting has been awful.
Last year Josh McDaniel's chose to take the seemingly smart path, by drafting offensive players first, rather than addressing the teams pressing defensive needs.
By passing up on several key players, McDaniel's chose to select wide receiver Demaryius Thomas with the teams first overall pick, a far from questionable move following Denver's loss of Brandon Marshall in the offseason.
At the time, this selection was perfect. Three months down the track though, forget it, Thomas has become a lost cause. Okay, so I may be coming off a little hasty there, but Thomas' stats of 215 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year aren't relevant of a receiver of his caliber, even though he hasn't seen much of the field just yet.
Aside from Thomas' flat year however, the godsend of Tim Tebow hasn't come through. Sitting on the bench as a spectator may seem fitting for a rookie quarterback, but seeing as though Tebow has resorted to writing a faith inspired book, you get the impression that the former Florida Gator is a little bored in Colorado.
3. The Poor Records
If you're a New England Patriots fan, chances are you're in stitches right now due to the fact that Josh McDaniel's actually thought Laurence Maroney was going to work out. (Sure, I made the mistake to of selecting him for my fantasy team, but that is beyond the point).
Better than this however, is Denver's losing record, that stretches far beyond 2-6 this year.
No, believe it or not the Broncos have been losing in more ways than one. In 2009, Mile High saw their favorite team start 6-0, and during this time most folks believed that the ole' John Elway era had finally been replaced by the Broncos of new, that we could all come to love for what seemed to be a number of promising years.
Instead, we were greeted with a team who has lost 14 of its last 18 games under Josh McDaniels, and need I remind you that this record is still counting for the next seven weeks. These poor records aren't just off the field, they are also in league rankings, the running game, the passing game, and much more.
It may not be the most publicized factor of Josh McDaniel's poor coaching, yet it sure is coming under the spotlight in recent weeks.
So Is Josh McDaniel's On His Way Out of Denver?
The magic eight ball says "Ask later".
For you see, the Broncos are such an unpredictable organization, nobody knows for sure what may happen. Denver are fresh off a bye week in Week 9, and are now looking ahead to their clash against the Kansas City Chiefs, that is still a heated rivalry in the AFC West.
In regards to McDaniels though, he may not be following the big guy himself Wade Phillips just yet. Keep in mind however that if the Broncos only manage two or three more wins on the year, the chances of McDaniel's getting the boot sometime soon are very probable.
The main issue that stands in the way of the Broncos firing Josh McDaniel's, is the fact that no one comes forward as a suitable replacement. Unfortunately for Denver fans, noone really stands up like Jason Garret does in Dallas, and although offensive coordinator Mike McCoy could take the reigns, his experience in Denver only covers the span of one entire season.
It's a story that will surely develop, so don't lose any sleep over it though. As Bill Simmon's clearly stated on ESPN.com though, there are three key head coaches on the hot seat right now, and McDaniel's is numero uno.
When it will be is a mystery, and even Scooby Doo and the gang can't solve this one. Until the Broncos find a replacement that suits their needs though, Josh McDaniel's may have to grudgingly stay in Denver for the time being.
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Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.
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