Denver Broncos: Mile High Meltdown Doesn't Mean Josh McDaniels' Job...Yet

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst IOctober 24, 2010

Let's not jump the gun and fire Josh McDaniels yet Denver.
Let's not jump the gun and fire Josh McDaniels yet Denver.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

With 6:31 seconds remaining in the third quarter and Denver down 45-14, the Broncos were facing a second-and-28. Kyle Orton dropped back into his own end zone, threw the ball to Jabar Gaffney, for what would have been a 22-yard gain, but the ball was dropped.

It was a microcosm of the 114th Broncos-Raiders game of all-time—including preseason, regular season and postseason meetings—as Denver was demoralized from the opening gun.

The Raiders marched down the field for 80-yards on their first drive, returned an Orton interception for a pick-six and forced and recovered a fumble on the Broncos back-to-back first two offensive plays of the game.

Just like that, Denver was down 21-0 with less than four and a half minutes run off the clock.

The Broncos never had a chance to win the game, as they went down as much as 38-0 in the first half and went into halftime getting blown out 38-7.

It was the “Implosion at Invesco.”

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It got so bad, the Raiders stretched their lead to 59-14 with time still on the clock in the third quarter. Oakland’s current team owns the record for most consecutive seasons with 11-plus losses (six), but they’ve beaten the Broncos three straight seasons at New Mile High.

What happened to Denver’s once greatest home-field advantage in the NFL?

It was so bad, fans were chanting “Tebow, Tebow, Tebow” in the third quarter, as Broncomaniacs wanted Tim Terrific in place of the ordinary Orton.

This game was so terrible fans and media types the like all across twitter were calling for Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels’ job.

What can be argued is this; an owner shouldn’t guarantee a head coach’s job for one great win in a season (like the Broncos victory over the now 5-2 Titans in Tennessee), and in the same breath, shouldn’t fire a coach for an absolutely astoundingly horrible performance against a divisional opponent (the Raiders love beating the Broncos, there is still a rivalry even though some question that fact).

Let’s face it, Pat Bowlen is no Jerry Jones or Daniel Snider, and that can be regarded as a good thing in some instances.

Jones and Snider are concerned with winning at all costs, even if that means going through a multitude of coaches in the process.

With changing coaches comes shakeups and changing philosophies, difficulty of getting players on the same page.

To Jones’ credit, he’s sticking by Wade Phillips currently through the Cowboy’s struggles and Bowlen gave the same Phillips two full seasons as head coach in Denver before he was fired in favor of Mike Shanahan.

What must not be missed is that Bowlen hired McDaniels with the thinking that he’s the second coming of Shanahan.

Both were young and successful offensive coordinators of Super Bowl winning teams (the '94 for the 49ers and Shanahan and '03 and '04 for McDaniels with the Patriots).

Both were considered offensive geniuses as McDaniels led the Pats to the No.1 offense in NFL history in 2007.

But the point is, even with this astonishing blowout at home to the Raiders, one must look at McDaniels complete resume as a head coach before pulling out a pink slip so quickly.

Overall, under McDaniels the Broncos are 10-13, with an insane amount of turnover in personnel, including trading Jay Cutler (four INTs today), Brandon Marshall (Broncos WRs have done just fine without him) and many, many more moves.

McDaniels’ job may be in jeopardy, but at least let the man finish out the 2010 season.

This year is one of the weirdest anyone can remember and the AFC West is currently the AFC worst.

Kansas City won another game, 42-20 over Jacksonville and are leading at 4-2. With this win the Raiders are 3-4, the Broncos 2-5. And the Chargers are now 2-5 after Chris Brown missed a field goal at the buzzer off the right upright that would have tied the game versus the Patriots today.

The Broncos are 0-1 in their division, with five games to play against mediocre at best opponents. What they do in the second half of the season will matter the most and the Broncos could still sneak into the playoffs and save McDaniels job.

Even at 8-8 or 7-9, Bowlen will likely keep McDaniels around for at least one more season, and his contract runs through 2012.

After playing through the toughest schedule in the NFL, the Broncos showed growth in last week’s loss to the Jets. And while the Broncos lost massively to the Raiders today, it’s not the end of the world.

McDaniels is a polarizing figure, it’s amazing to see how much so. But to pull the plug right now would be to kill all the potential positives that could be coming soon.

Or, Bowlen could fire him now, put (fill in the blank) in at coach and see how he does for a year and a half. If that coach struggles, do you fire him as well? Where would the coaching carousel spiral end?

There’s a reason there are 16 games in the NFL season, the Broncos still have a serious chance at competing for the AFC West division champions this year.

If Denver finishes with 4-6 wins, McDaniels should be fired, if they get more than that, he gets one more year to get into the playoffs.

Next up for the Broncos is San Francisco (1-6) in London, England on Halloween and the bye week follows that.


Denver can possibly pull off a win after this nightmarish loss and go into the bye at 3-5 and maybe only a game and a half out of first in the division.

One thing is for sure in all of this, the Broncos haven’t quit on McDaniels, and they came out and scored in three plays to start the second half after being down by 31 points at halftime.

They’ve been devastated by injuries and still fought hard even though those backups were evident in today’s 59-14 loss.

This game is what rivalries are made of—it was the second worse loss in Broncos history in 1963 when the Chiefs beat Denver 59-7 in 1963.

One more thing is for sure, no Broncos fan will likely ever witness a game this bad for many years to come.

It was the benchmark loss for a young head coach to learn from—he’s showing growing pains as he learns how to be a head coach in the NFL.

If the people of Denver can be a little patient the potential for greatness is there. The players on the Broncos have already bought into the philosophy and anyone they bring in will have to as well.

Don’t panic Denver; the Broncos will be good again. Forget Cutler and his interception/sack problems. Forget about Marshall and his prima donna attitude. Forget Tony Scheffler, the tight end that hoped Denver lost last season’s last two games.

Following the game McDaniels said, "I take full responsibility for it. ... I apologize to Pat and the organization, all the fans and everyone else. It was awful." He's not making excuses and knows he and the team will get better.

Look toward the future Broncos fans, stop dwelling on the past.

Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State Alumnus and a freelance journalist. Along with being the CSU Rams and Fort Collins Beer Bars Examiner, Kurtzman is a Denver Broncos and the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com.

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