Josh McDaniels Fired: What It Means for the Denver Broncos

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst IDecember 7, 2010

Todd Haley was much nicer to Josh McDaniels in their second postgame meeting yesterday, maybe even he knew it was over for McD in Denver.
Todd Haley was much nicer to Josh McDaniels in their second postgame meeting yesterday, maybe even he knew it was over for McD in Denver.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Just in at 4:20 p.m. MT on this Monday afternoon, Josh McDaniels has been "relieved of head coaching duties," a nice way to say, "We fired our head coach because he couldn't win."

After starting his head coaching tenure 6-0 in 2009, McDaniels' Broncos lost 17 of the last 22 games, and in the process have lost respect and credibility—especially in the wake of "Spygate 2."

And whether or not McDaniels looked at the taped walkthrough of the 49ers practice in London, it was only the last in a long line of incidents that were isolated events, but combined to snowball quicker than an avalanche rumbling down the Rocky Mountains.

To begin McDaniels' head coaching tenure, people were divided immediately—partly because so many were in shock that Mike Shanahan was fired and longed for him to still be the coach.

And while McDaniels was undoubtedly compared to his successor, arguably the most successful head coach in Broncos history in Shanahan, the real dividing line came when the word came out that McDaniels wanted to trade Jay Cutler for Matt Cassel.

Of course, a multitude of terrible personnel moves, including not playing Peyton Hillis in 2009 and trading him for Brady Quinn, the possible busts in first-round picks Robert Ayers, Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow, getting rid of Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler—and the list goes on—were likely major reasons McD was fired.

He was also off-putting and some called him egomaniacal. And while it was somewhat hard to pinpoint what made people classify him in such a light, McDaniels was classically always late to his weekly press conferences.

He's a smart man, a math major in college, and his offensive scheme is legendarily extensive.

But another downfall of McDaniels was overthinking play-calling and an inability to reach the red zone with supposedly the most potent offensive scheme in the league.

The Broncos became laughably bad, and for die-hard Denver fans, it was a position none are comfortable with.

Blatantly, the 2010 team is worse than any Broncos team in the last 40 years; Denver hasn't been this terrible since the '60s.

Pat Bowlen understands the history, he knows that he made the wrong decision on McDaniels, and even though he said last week he didn't "want to make a coaching change at this time," McD forced his hand.

Should he have been given the chance to play out the season? Probably, but then again, what warranted it?

McDaniels couldn't beat the shaky Raiders or sorry 49ers, or even the historically terrible Rams at home.

Simply, the Broncos couldn't win under McDaniels—always for one reason or 10 others (injuries, penalties, blown opportunities, horrible third-down percentage, etc.)—and Bowlen and the Broncos fanbase grew tired of it.

No game in memory was less filled by paying fans at Mile High Stadium than last week versus the Rams. The stadium boasts a sell-out streak of 40 years in total, and the Broncos weren't good for all of them—a telling sign that fans had lost hope in their team and its head coach.

What this means for the Broncos is that a major dividing line among fans is gone and a new spirit of hope can once again be instilled in a Denver franchise that has been one of the best in the NFL since the '80s.

It also means that this rebuilding project that McDaniels started, which is at most halfway to a point that the team can be a winner, will now likely have to be restarted completely once again.

The Denver defense needs to be completely redone. They will probably only have Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, DJ Williams and Justin Bannan anyway, and a defensive coach is the direction that may be the best fit for the Broncos.

Bill Cowher and John Gruden are high on fans' wish lists, and seemingly Bowlen's as well, but whether either would want to coach in Denver is unknown.

But Bowlen does love offense, and Gary Kubiak is close to being fired in Huston—would the Broncos bring him back to Denver?

As of now, the Broncos named Eric Studesville, the RB coach in Buffalo for six seasons, as interim head coach and there will be a press conference in the morning.

Whomever Bowlen ultimately decides upon, he must be diligent in deciding the next man in charge, and he should at least consider signing a GM to make personnel decisions—something Bowlen has basically never had in 27 years as the owner.

Maybe Bill Parcells is interested in being in charge upstairs in the Mile High City?

The only thing certain right now is that McDaniels is gone, a weight has been lifted off the collective consciousness of Broncos Country and the focus toward the future can now be re-established.

Where they go from here is once again in Bowlen's (and COO Joe Ellis') hands.

Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking 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

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