Below is a timeline detailing the misguided actions of Josh McDaniels that led to the launch of www.joshmcdanielssucks.com:
• After signing a 4 year contract worth a reported $11.9M, Josh McDaniels is introduced by Pat Bowlen as the 12th head coach in the history of the Denver Broncos. McDaniels delivers a nervous and ragged performance at the introductory press conference, a sharp contrast to the polish and confidence of former Broncos’ head coach and executive vice president of football operations, Mike Shanahan.
• The hiring of McDaniels, only 33 years old at the time, is met with mixed reviews by NFL analysts and Denver fans. Many pundits and fans believe the Broncos should have hired a coach in his forties with 10 plus years of coaching experience (e.g. Jim Schwartz, Leslie Frazier, or Rex Ryan), or a coach that had previously served as an NFL head coach (e.g. Bill Cowher).
• Despite inheriting a team ranked 2nd in the NFL in total offense in 2008, McDaniels fires all of Denver’s offensive assistant coaches except running backs coach, Bobby Turner, and offensive line coach, Rick Dennison. McDaniels’ decision to fire quarterbacks coach, Jeremy Bates, particularly irks quarterback Jay Cutler who had passed for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl with Bates as his position coach in 2008.
• McDaniels attempts to trade Cutler and acquire New England quarterback, Matt Cassel, in 3 team deal that would have sent Cutler to Tampa Bay. McDaniels fails to complete the trade and Cassel is traded to AFC West rival, Kansas City. Cutler says he is not bothered by the trade proposal itself but by how he felt McDaniels misled him. McDaniels responded by offering that the Broncos merely listened to offers submitted from other teams, as they do for all players, but Cutler’s camp never buys such explanation.
• McDaniels convinces Pat Bowlen to fire general manager Jim Goodman and co-assistant general manager Jeff Goodman and promote 38 year old Brian Xanders from co-assistant general manager to general manager. It is clear McDaniels lied at his introductory press conference when he said that he looked forward to working with Jim Goodman, and that the elder Goodman would have the final say in all personnel matters.
• As free agency begins, the Denver Broncos sign veteran New England long snapper, Lonie Paxton, to a 5 year, $5.5M contract that includes a $1M signing bonus. The deal makes Paxton the 2nd highest paid long snapper in the NFL, slightly behind Cleveland’s Ryan Pontbriand, and results in the release of Broncos long snapper Mike Leach. Leach, who spent 7 seasons in Denver, was extremely popular with teammates and his release is harshly criticized by widely respected wide receiver Brandon Stokley.
• McDaniels continues to add former Patriots as the Broncos ink free agent wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. Prior to the start of the regular season, Denver signs or trades for 4 additional former New England players, Brandon Gorin, Russ Hochstein, LaMont Jordan, and LeKevin Smith, bringing the total number of former Patriots added to the Broncos by McDaniels to 6. Of the 6 players, only Jabar Gaffney and Lonie Paxton make worthwile contributions to the team during the 2009 season (Hochstein replaced incumbent Ben Hamilton at left guard in November but his play was less than average).
• The Broncos are major players in free agency, signing more than a dozen players, including safeties Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill, cornerback Andre Goodman, and linebacker Andra Davis. All of the players listed above play a major role in the significant improvement of Denver’s defense under McDaniels and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
• A conference call involving McDaniels, Pat Bowlen, Jay Cutler and Cutler’s agent, Bus Cook, fails to resolve the issues between Cutler and McDaniels. Subsequent to the meeting, Cutler tells ESPN.com ”I went in there with every intention of solving the issue, being a Bronco, moving forward as a Bronco. We weren’t in there but about 20 minutes, [McDaniels] did most of the talking, and as far as I’m concerned, he made it clear he wants his own guy. At the end of the meeting, he wasn’t like, ‘Jay, I want you as our quarterback, you’re our guy.’ It felt like the opposite… really, I figured we’d hash things out, shake hands, laugh a little and move forward. What happened was the last thing I expected.”
• On March 15, 2009, Broncos fans around the globe cringe as Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler formally asks for a trade.
• McDaniels is blasted by many members of the media for his arrogance and stubbornness, including Denver Post columnists Woody Paige, who pleads to the Broncos “Don’t destroy franchise [by trading Cutler],” and Dave Krieger, who asks “[w]hich is easier to replace, a 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback or a 32-year-old rookie coach?”
• On April 2, 2009, the Broncos trade Cutler and a 2009 5th round draft pick to the Chicago Bears for quarterback Kyle Orton, 1st and 3rd round picks in 2009 and a 1st round pick in 2010.
• Two days after the trade of Cutler, Pat Bowlen writes a letter to fans in support of McDaniels. The mere fact that Bowlen believes it necessary to author such a letter demonstrates that he fears this trade could be one of the biggest missteps in the history of the franchise, if not the league.
• Mel Kiper grades McDaniels’ initial draft class as a “C.” The general consensus of Kiper and other draft experts is that though the Broncos were not in need of a running back, Knowshon Moreno (12th overall) will be a productive player for the Broncos, and outside linebacker Robert Ayers (18th overall) has Pro Bowl ability. However, McDaniels is universally condemned for trading (i) Denver’s 2010 1st round pick to Seattle to select diminutive Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith in the 2nd round (37th overall), and (ii) Denver’s 3rd round pick (79th overall) and the 3rd round pick (84th overall) Denver received in the Cutler trade from Chicago to Pittsburgh to select one-dimensional, blocking tight end Richard Quinn in the 2nd round (64th overall). Denver also received Pittsburgh’s 4th round pick (132nd overall) in the latter deal, which it used to select Iowa guard Seth Olsen. Moreno rushes for 947 yards and 7 scores and adds 28 receptions for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns, but averages less than 4 yards per carry and fails to make a run longer than 36 yards in his rookie season. Ayers plays in 15 games and records 19 tackles and no sacks. Smith, Quinn and Olsen do not make significant contributions in 2009.
• Rick Reilly of ESPN wonders “how arrogant can Josh McDaniels be?” and proclaims “Broncos fans, you’re screwed!” after McDaniels boasts that his draft board had fewer than 100 names on it despite 256 players being drafted.
• McDaniels names Kyle Orton starting quarterback, and characterizes the player as a “winner.” It is apparent that Orton’s win-loss record is over-hyped to cover for his shortcomings. He finishes the 2009 season 2-8 over the last 10 games, and his career record stands at 19-14 after his rookie season. The post-2005 record of Orton is important to note as Chicago’s defense and special teams were largely responsible for all of the 10 wins Orton was credited for in 2005 (i.e. without the benefit of a dominant defense (the Bears defense led the NFL in points against and yards allowed in 2005), Orton’s dreadful ’05 statistics (15 starts, 51.6% completion percentage, 1,869 yards passing, 9 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions) would not have translated into many wins).
• After being booed by fans at Mile High for throwing 2 interceptions during a scrimmage a week earlier, Kyle Orton, McDaniels’ hand picked successor to Cutler, throws interceptions on 3 consecutive drives to open the preseason at San Francisco.
• McDaniels suspends Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall for “conduct detrimental to the team” after video of Marshall loafing it in practice surfaces on the internet. Marshall wants a new contract though 1 year remains on the term of the agreement he signed prior to his rookie season.
• After being held scoreless for almost 4 quarters, the Broncos beat Cincinnati on kickoff weekend thanks to an 87 yard tipped hail-marry touchdown pass from Orton to Stokley with 0:14 remaining in the game.
• Denver improves its record to 3-0 with a 23-3 victory at Oakland. Orton completes 13 of 23 passes for a paltry 157 yards, but Denver dominates on the ground with Correll Buckhalter recording a 109 yards on 14 carries and Knowshon Moreno rushing for 90 yards on 21 attempts.
• After the Broncos beat New England 20-17 in overtime to improve to 5-0, McDaniels celebrates with tactless fist pumping while running around Invesco Field at Mile High as if he were Cal Ripken, Jr. after breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. It seems that Brandon Marshall is in the coach’s good graces after catching 8 passes for 64 yards and 2 scores, and the two men embrace after Marshall’s second touchdown.
• Denver improves its record to 6-0 after traveling to San Diego and defeating the Chargers 34-23. Though seeing a significantly reduced role on offense, Eddie Royal (only 1 year removed from a stellar 91 reception rookie campaign), contributes to the victory by returning both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown.
• Coming off of a bye week, the Broncos are demolished at Baltimore, 30-7. Denver struggles to establish its running game and McDaniels calls for Orton to throw the ball 32 times. Orton completes 23 of such attempts but for only 157 yards, averaging an anemic 4.1 yards per attempt.
• Denver drops to 6-2, losing to the Steelers at home on Monday Night Football. Kyle Orton throws 3 interceptions and posts a quarterback rating of 43.9.
• Chris Simms, who McDaniels signed to a lucrative free agent contract, is terrible in relief of an injured Kyle Orton at Washington. Simms looks lost on the field, completing only 3 of 13 passes for 13 yards and an interception. In addition to the Orton injury, the 27-17 loss is largely a result of Washington’s conversion of a fake field goal. On the play, Redskins punter, Hunter Smith, throws a 40 yard touchdown to fullback Mike Sellers from the fake formation Washington showed prior to calling a timeout. McDaniels opts to not use a Denver timeout after the Redskins again line up in the same fake field goal formation subsequent to the Washington timeout and Alphonso Smith blows the coverage on Sellers.
• McDaniels immaturely engages in trash talking with Shaun Phillips prior to Denver losing 32-3 at Mile High to division rival San Diego. The loss is Denver’s 4th straight, and allows San Diego to take a 1 game lead in the AFC West race after having trailed the Broncos by 3.5 games only 5 weeks earlier.
• After posting wins in Weeks 12 and 13 to improve to 8-4, Denver drops its Week 14 game at Indianapolis 27-17, despite great performances from the defense (3 interceptions of Peyton Manning) and Brandon Marshall, who sets the single-game receptions record with 21 catches for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. Marshall’s record setting day is overshadowed, however, by strong criticism of McDaniels, specifically targeting the coach’s: (i) decision to defer to the second half after winning the coin toss prior to the start of the game (resulting in a quick touchdown drive led by Manning), and (ii) refusal to use reserve running back Peyton Hillis despite the struggles of rookie Knowshon Moreno (67 yards on 23 attempts for a deplorable 2.7 yards per carry average) and losing Correll Buckhalter to injury early in the contest.
• Needing a win to remain in control of the AFC wild card race, the Broncos embarrassingly lose 20-19 to Oakland after JaMarcus Russell throws a touchdown pass to Chaz Schilens with 0:45 remaining in the 4th quarter. Russell, effectively third on the Raiders depth chart at the quarterback position, enters the game after Charlie Frye (starting for an injured Bruce Gradkowski) suffers a concussion. The Raiders rush for 241 yards while Moreno continues to struggle (particularly in short yardage situations), gaining only 42 yards on 19 carries (2.2 yards per carry average). McDaniels is booed off the field, and Denver Post columnist Dave Kreiger calls out the head coach for his stubbornness and examines the drop-off in production of Shanahan holdovers Hillis, Royal, Scheffler, and Stokley under McDaniels.
• Fans continue to voice displeasure over McDaniels’ coaching and play-calling, primarily taking issue with the lack of downfield passing attempts, and struggles of the running game (primarily due to McDaniels’ decision to not use the zone blocking scheme favored by Shanahan and best suited to Denver’s current offensive line, and opposing defenses stacking the box with little or no threat of a downfield pass).
• Denver is on the outside of the AFC wild card race after suffering a morale crushing loss at Philadelphia. David Akers kicks a 28-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining in the game, lifting the Eagles to a 30-27 victory and spoiling Dawkins’ emotional return to Philadelphia after Denver had rallied to tie the game at 6:05 of the 4th quarter. While the Broncos erased a 27-10 deficit, this game will most be remembered for Kyle Orton’s failure to make plays down the stretch (i.e. in the 4th quarter, Denver managed to score only 3 points on three drives that started at the Philadelphia 44, Denver 47, and Denver 44, respectively).
• On the Friday before the team’s must win game to keep its playoff chances alive vs. Kansas City, McDaniels announces that Marshall and Scheffler will be not be active for the game as a result of the players’ poor attitudes. McDaniels is widely criticized for publicly questioning the legitimacy of Marshall’s hamstring injury.
• Without Marshall and Scheffler in the lineup, the Broncos are lambasted 44-24 by a Chiefs team that came into the game with a 3-13 record. In Kansas City’s first victory in 9 tries at Invesco Field at Mile High, Jamaal Charles rushes for a Chiefs record 259 yards on 25 carries and linebacker Derrick Johnson scores two touchdowns on returns of interceptions of terrible Kyle Orton throws. Orton finishes the game with a total of 3 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 65.4.
• The Broncos finish the season with an 8-8 record, joining the 1978 Redskins and 2003 Vikings as the only teams since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to miss the playoffs after a 6-0 start.
• Kyle Orton completes the season with respectable totals of 3,802 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions; however, it is painfully clear that Orton’s decision making, footwork and pocket awareness are generally poor, and the majority of his passes are wildly inaccurate. Orton lacks mobility and cannot consistently make plays downfield. By all accounts Orton is well liked by teammates and is thorough in preparing for games, but Peter King writes the truth when he opines in his January 4, 2010 MMQB “[Orton has] proven this year he’s a borderline starter, not a player a team can build a long future around.”
• To the dismay of the Broncos community, Josh McDaniels endorses Kyle Orton as the Broncos starting quarterback of the future. In response to McDaniels endorsement of Orton, Dave Kreiger writes that if the Denver Broncos want to win another Vince Lombardi Trophy, the franchise needs an elite quarterback. In the last decade only two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks are in the non-elite category, Trent Dilfer of the Ravens and Brad Johnson of the Buccaneers, and both Dilfer and Johnson benefited from playing on teams that had ultra-elite defenses (not to mention Dilfer and Johnson were better players than Orton). The other eight Super Bowl winners of the past decade are Tom Brady (3), Ben Roethlisberger (2), Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Kurt Warner.
• The only two position coaches remaining from Mike Shanahan’s staff, running backs coach, Bobby Turner, and offensive line coach, Rick Dennison, depart Denver. Turner accepts an offer from the Washington Redskins to be an associate head coach on Shanahan’s staff, and Dennison joins Gary Kubiak in Houston as the Texans’ offensive coordinator replacing Kyle Shanahan.
• The Broncos and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan “mutually agree to part ways.” The shocking move comes after a season in which Nolan’s presence increased the team’s ranking in total defense from No. 29 in 2008 to No. 7 in 2009, and improved the Broncos from a Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) of 24.7% in 2008 to -7.9% in 2009 (tied with the Saints for the most significant improvement in total defense from ’08 to ’09). Though a reason for the separation isn’t offered by McDaniels or Nolan, it is believed that Nolan’s departure is a result of a combination of the following factors: (i) McDaniels’ inability to delegate responsibility to the amply qualified defensive coordinator (and former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers) and pompous attitude made it absolutely insufferable for Nolan to continue overseeing the Broncos defense, and (ii) McDaniels was on the verge of hiring former Patriots defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, as associate head coach, a move that clearly would have undermined the authority of (and alienated) Mike Nolan.
• McDaniels promotes his younger brother, Ben, to quarterbacks coach. Before being hired by the Broncos last year as an offensive assistant, the 30 year old Ben McDaniels’ coaching experience consisted of 3 years coaching quarterbacks at the high school level in Ohio and 2 years as a graduate assistant at the of Minnesota. Unfortunately, rather than hiring a quarterbacks coach best qualified and skilled to mentor a young player (e.g. Jim Zorn), McDaniels again opted to surround himself with familiarity to ensure that that his methods and decisions are not challenged.
• Dean Pees, Josh McDaniels top choice to replace Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator of the Broncos, snubs McDaniels and accepts a lesser position (linebackers coach) on John Harbaugh’s staff in Baltimore. Though many Broncos fans are thankful the conformist Pees will not be running the defense in Denver, Pees’ decision speaks volumes about McDaniels, confirming the notion that: (i) McDaniels inability to get along with star players may extend to not being able to work well alongside assistant coaches, and/or (ii) NFL insiders are not optimistic about the direction and future success of the Broncos under McDaniels’ leadership.
• The Broncos name Don Martindale defensive coordinator. Martindale was hired by Denver before last season to coach the linebackers after serving in the same capacity for the Oakland Raiders since 2004. He was last a defensive coordinator at Western Kentucky University in 2003. While Martindale may prove to be a creditable successor to Nolan, the stink of McDaniels’ choice to jettison Nolan will linger for some time.
• Denver’s election to qualify Brandon Marshall with only the first-round tender has many league observers concluding that such decision was reached solely to make signing Marshall to an offer sheet more palatable to other NFL teams. Kyle Orton was also assigned a first-round, $2.521 million tender.
• In an attempt to remake the defensive line, the Broncos sign unrestricted free agents defensive end/defensive tackle Justin Bannan (Baltimore), defensive end Jarvis Green (New England), and defensive tackle Jamal Williams (San Diego). While such signings are met with optimism, all three players are 30 years or older. Denver also signs cornerback Nate Jones, formerly of the Dolphins, to compete for the team’s nickel corner spot. The signing of Jones does not bode well for Alphonso Smith (effectively a first-round selection as a result of a draft day trade that sent Denver’s 2010 1st round selection to Seattle for the 37th overall pick) who could not get on the field in his first season, playing behind veteran Ty Law and undrafted rookie free agent Tony Carter.
• Despite McDaniels stating that he planned to expand Peyton Hillis’ role in the offense in 2010, the popular running back was traded to Cleveland for Brady Quinn. Given that Hillis was unlikely to see an increase in opportunities in 2010 because Josh McDaniels Sucks, the acquisition of Brady Quinn is met with the approval of most Broncos fans. The good news out of Dove Valley is that Denver is actively searching for a long term replacement for Kyle Orton, who confirmed last season he’s a borderline starter at the NFL level. Whether Brady Quinn is the solution is another question entirely. As Denver Post columnist Dave Krieger offered “[t]o call [Quinn] the Anna Kournikova of pro football would be too strong, but there are similarities. His looks have made him a bigger player in the commercial endorsement world than on the football field, where he has struggled since turning pro three years ago.”
• As anticipated for months, McDaniels trades Pro Bowl wideout Brandon Marshall to Miami for a second round draft pick in 2010 and 2011. Marshall and the Dolphins quikly agree on the terms of a new contract. Despite Marshall’s agent, Kennard McGuire, floating rumors that the agreement makes Marshall the highest paid wide receiver in the history of the NFL, the deal is effectively for 2 years with $12.5 million guaranteed. If Miami decides to keep Marshall past April 2, 2011 (after having two years to test drive Marshall both on and off the field), another $9.5 million in guaranteed base salaries will be due to Marshall. Considering the true value and structure of the contract, it’s a travesty that Denver didn’t sign Marshall to this deal rather than jettisoning another Pro Bowl player. Miami was able to manage risk knowing the immense talent of Marshall, so why not the Broncos? Perhaps, because Josh McDaniels is overcompensating for his vast shortcomings with an insatiable desire for power, control and authority.
• After trading down twice in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft to select Demaryius Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech), McDaniels blows the extra picks Denver accumulated in such trades and shocks the NFL world by moving back into the first round to select former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow is a long way from developing into a functional NFL quarterback and many league insiders believe that the player could have been had for a single pick in round 2 or 3. McDaniels’ deal for Tebow deal is reminiscent of the 2009 draft when McDaniels panicked and shipped the team’s 2010 first round pick to Seattle to take diminutive defensive back Alphonso Smith. As a result, Seattle received the No. 14 overall pick in this year’s draft and selected Texas safety Earl Thomas, a player NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock labeled the best pure, instinctive football player in the 2010 draft.
• Tim Tebow’s preseason was largely shaky as the former Florida Gators quarterback reverted back to his poor college form during game action, dipping the ball down below his waist and using a windmill-like motion to deliver the pass. There were a few highlights in Tebow’s play though it’s rather apparent that Tebow is lacking the skill set and physical and mental attributes necessary to be a successful NFL quarterback.
• The Broncos trade cornerback Alphonso Smith to Detroit for the Lions fourth string tight end, Dan Gronkowski. Gronkowski was Detroit’s 7th round (255th overall) pick in 2009. While McDaniels effectively admitted his colossal mistake of trading Denver’s 2010 1st round draft pick to select Smith in the top of round two in ‘09, a backup tight end is a horrendous return on a draft pick that could have resulted in a talent such as Earl Thomas on the Broncos roster. SI.com’s Peter King pokes fun at the Broncos front office by giving the Personnel Acumen Award to McDaniels and general manager Brian Xanders for the Alphonso Smith trade and the free agent signing of defensive end Jarvis Green, who received $3.2 million in guarantees but never played a regular-season snap for the team.
• The Broncos suffer the worst and most humiliating home defeat in the history of the franchise, a 59-14 drubbing by the Oakland Raiders, a team that recorded only 10 first downs and 3 field goals in a 17-9 loss to the 1-5 San Francisco 49ers the previous week. Broncos fans are outraged with the pathetic showing and the team’s 4-13 record over the last 365 days under McDaniels, resulting in widespread media coverage of the mutiny brewing in Denver.
• The Denver Broncos and head coach Josh McDaniels were each fined $50,000 by the NFL for violating the league’s “integrity of the game” policy, as McDaniels failed to timely report the recording of a 49ers walk-through practice by the team’s director of video operations, Steve Scarnecchia. Scarnecchia was fired after asserting he acted alone.
• Pat Bowlen fires Josh McDaniels on December 6, 2010.
Posted by Uncle Rico 01/09/10 4:56 PM ET
Edited by Uncle Rico 12/08/10 2:00 PM ET