Josh McDaniels: Why Pat Bowlen Should, but Won't Fire Him After This Season

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst INovember 29, 2010

Can you hear that sound Broncos fans?

It's the sound of the funeral trumpet sounding off the final moans of a season, the death grunts of a collective NFL team.

As the Broncos lost their eighth game of the season, 36-33 to the wretched Rams in New Mile High Stadium, their 2010 season lost all hope of living past the regular season.

And as Denver sauntered off their home stadium's field again a loser, an eerie feeling hit me.

As the game's coverage faded to black, the FOX commentator talked of the Broncos' struggles and the scandal that took the headlines yesterday--Denver has been at least temporarily labeled as cheaters--something I never thought could be true.

Was I sleeping and experiencing a nightmare of epic proportions?

At the same time, FOX ran yet another striking statistic that shook the system, today Broncos fans witnessed history as it was the Rams first win in Denver since 1979.

This was no dream, it's the reality of the 2010 Denver Broncos.

But to any Denver die-hard, this type of stat has become regular and routine.

Only three weeks ago the Broncos were blown out by the ridiculous Raiders, who haven't won more than six games in a season in six years. It was the second worst loss in Denver's history.

Bottom line: This Broncos team is the worst Denver has seen since the late 60s, early 70s, possibly ever.

And then this "Spygate 2" scandal broke yesterday and the seemingly impossible came true.

Not only are the Denver Broncos a terrible team on the football field, the laughing stock of the league, but they are also known as cheaters now to the most serious, and lay of fans.

The circumstances are worse than any outsider can understand--the Broncos are making the lowly Raiders actually look like a model franchise.

The wildest part about Spygate 2 is the amount of conspiracy theorists and theories that have sprung up in its aftermath.

While McDaniels, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and COO Joe Ellis all agree with the NFL in saying that Denver's ex-video coordinator Steve Scarneccia worked completely on his own, without instruction, and was the only one to watch the video--the conspiracy lovers say that McDaniels absolutely watched the tape.

Others go on to argue that Bowlen is helping his boy McDaniels cover it all up, as to hopefully save his own face and the face of the Broncos franchise.

Could it be true?

FOX's Jay Glazer thinks so and said today that McDaniels threatened his staff, “If this gets out, there are jobs on the line."

To believe that Bowlen is covering up this massive scandal and the NFL couldn't figure it out is unintelligent, but then again, wilder things have happened.

Still, it's unlikely that McDaniels knowingly cheated and Ellis explained that Bowlen's opinion of the coach hasn't changed in the wake of this all.

And even though McDaniels has been torn to shreds lately in the local media and fanbase's eyes, twitter especially included, the Broncos' team has not quit on the coach up to this point, evidenced in the almost but failed comeback attempt today.

Broncos players are verbally backing McDaniels too, as Denver Post beat writer Lindsay Jones tweeted at 6:30 p.m. MT, "@PostBroncos, 'Numerous players defending McDaniels, quotes up soon.'"

WR Eddie Royal backed McD, "We’ve got a coach that we want to play for, and we’re playing for each other also," as did safety David Bruton, "We all trust our coach. We’ve got his back like he’s got ours."

Since trading away Jay Cutler just after becoming head coach, McDaniels has been a polarizing figure in Denver and those that loathe him only gain credibility with every heartbreaking loss that mounts up (16-21 overall).

But Bowlen put all his eggs in McDaniels' basket so to speak, when he fired Mike Shanahan while still owing him three years at $4.5 million a year. The Broncos are currently paying both Shanny and McD, and will continue to do so in 2011 as well.

If Bowlen wants to fire McDaniels (which many argue should happen after nearly two years of insanity in Denver, he would have three coaches on the payroll in 2011, mounting to some $11 million, an unheard of amount.

Of course, Bowlen could have fired McDaniels with just cause due to Spygate 2, but as Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio explains here, COO Joe Ellis blew that reasoning in a conference call with the league on Friday.

For all intensive purposes, despite Denver seemingly hitting a new low point in franchise history, the Broncos and their fans are stuck with McDaniels through at least the 2011 season.

So while Broncos Country has been vocal in wanting him run out of town, maybe the best thing they can hope for is McDaniels turning it all around, finally making progress, winning some games to finish 2010 and draft defensively next April.

This is truly the test of loyalty that Broncos fans haven't faced in some 40 years, when the true fanatics of the orange and blue will be found as the fake and fair-weather fans are weeded out.


Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist and is actively searching for a career in journalism. Along with being a Denver Broncos and Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist for, Kurtzman is the CSU Rams Examiner and the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for

Follow Rich on twitter and/or facebook for great sports news and opinion, breaking stories and awesome quotes from Colorado athletes!


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