The Denver Broncos: How the Grinch Stole the 2009 NFL Playoffs

brian clothierContributor IMay 15, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 21:  Pat Bowlen, President and CEO of the Denver Broncos, watches the team warm up prior to facing the New Orleans Saints during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 21, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Saints 34-32.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)


Barack Obama ran an entire presidential campaign on the idea of change. When life becomes stagnant or the status quo just isn’t good enough anymore, change is the cure-all. 

After 14 seasons as the Denver Broncos head coach, Mike Shanahan (146-95-0 in the regular and post season, including back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998) was released from the team. 

It was time for a change. 

That change came in the form of Josh McDaniels.

McDaniels is a graduate of the Bill Belichick (102-42 in the regular season and three Super Bowl Championships as the head coach of the New England Patriots, 2000 to present) school of football. 

Fellow graduates include Charlie Weis (29-21 as the head coach at Notre Dame, 2005 to present), Romeo Crennel  (24-40 as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, 2005-2008), and Eric Mangini (23-25 as the head coach of the New York Jets, 2006-2008). 

In some cases, it would appear the apple falls quite far from the tree.

Please don’t get me wrong. McDaniels is his own man and the Broncos are nowhere near the shambles that Notre Dame and the NFL’s Browns and Jets were in when these men took over. 

However, aside from the hiring of Mike Nolan as the Broncos' defensive coordinator, McDaniels' infancy in the head coaching arena has been mired by bad decision after questionable decision. In fact, many of his more recent moves have looked awfully "Shanahanish."

If Mike Shanahan had made these moves (the botched Cutler fiasco or the No. 12 draft pick used to pick up Knowshon Moreno instead of addressing the defensive front seven), we’d say it was just Mike Shanahan being Mike Shanahan. Unfortunately, Pat Bowlen and the Broncos fans called for “change” and McDaniels has only given them "more of the same" (thank you, Democratic National Convention).

Some of the biggest changes came in the cuts/signing department

The Broncos not only bobbled the situation with Jay Cutler, but Patrick Ramsey was released. That means Kyle Orton and Chris Simms are their likely one and two quarterbacks.

Cornerback Dre Bly, 5'10" and 31 years old, was cut and his likely replacement is 5'9" Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest. Did I mention the Broncos gave up a first round draft pick for Smith?

Thirty-five year old Brian Dawkins becomes the new safety for the Broncos.  They’re going to need him to play in 30-year-old form.

Although Knowshon Moreno may be a game-changer some day, was it necessary to pick him up with the No. 12 when the Broncos already had Buckhalter, Arrington, and Jordan? And just recently, Denver added Darius Walker. The smart money would have guessed that pick was being applied to the OL or DL.

With a 2009 schedule that pits the Broncos up against six teams that qualified for the 2008 NFL playoffs (Baltimore and Pittsburgh back-to-back following the Week Seven bye) and five of those games are against eight of the past nine Super Bowl champions, an 8-8 finish looks like a highwater mark for this team.  A 6-10 season may be a little closer to how this year plays out. 

Change has come to Denver…and it may not be for the best.


Retrieved May 12, 2009, from NFL.com

Retrieved May 12, 2009, from denverpost.com

Retrieved May 12, 2009, from Denver Broncos team page

Retrieved May 12 2009, from ESPN.com


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