Josh McDaniels deserves credit for helping turn the Broncos into a Super Bowl contender
Ask Broncos fans to name the most hated team figure of the last fifteen years and nearly everybody will automatically answer, "Josh McDaniels." To be certain, the Broncos were dismal under his watch. He orchestrated some much maligned trades, made a plethora of questionable draft picks and, most unforgivable of all, he set the table for the worst Broncos season since 1982.
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The Broncos crumbled under McDaniels. That's a given. But just two years later, look how far the Broncos have come. In professional, draft-based sports, it's often easier to rise from the ashes than from mediocrity -- and were it not for Josh McDaniel's tenure in Denver, the Broncos would not be a legitimate Super Bowl contender today.
To begin, let's look at the things McDaniels unquestionably did right, few though they may be. Despite poor production at first, and with the help of Peyton Manning, his 2010 draft has turned out to be more than good. The pair of wide receivers taken under McDaniels are both putting up top ten numbers, with Demaryius Thomas fourth in receiving yards ahead of such dynamos as Wes Welker, A.J. Green and Roddy White. Eric Decker is tied for third in touchdowns with Brandon Marshall, Victor Cruz and Rob Gronkowski. Both are in the top fifteen for receptions -- impressive considering Peyton Manning is an equal-opportunity quarterback. If you're open, he'll find you, which means both Decker and Thomas have done an excellent job getting open.
Maybe you're saying, "But Manning made these receivers." Partially true. But Demaryius began his dominant streak in the second half of 2011, under none other than Tim Tebow. And we'll get to Manning in a bit.
The other three of 2010's first five picks were Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton and the infamous Tim Tebow. Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton are both better than average starters at their positions. The two helped Tebow and the Broncos lead the league in rushing in 2011 and, though Walton is out for the season with an injury, Beadles remains an integral part of the Broncos top-three offense.
So the only really bad pick of the 2010 draft for the Broncos was Tebow, who helped restore the fans' enthusiasm in the franchise. And hate him though you might, the Broncos would not have made the playoffs last year without him.
Now let's talk about the moves that got McDaniels fired. The worst of them was losing Brandon Marshall, who is playing better this year than ever. If the Broncos had Marshall on one end, Thomas on the other and Decker as the slot receiver, with Willis McGahee providing power running, executing draws and setting up play-action, the Broncos would probably have the top offense in the league.
Jeffrey Beall The frustrating and exciting Tim Tebow.
Granted, the Broncos probably would not have gambled on Thomas were Marshall still around. But the team could have then used that pick on the safety that the Broncos so desperately need.
McDaniel's next worst showing was the horrendous 2009 draft that produced precisely zero regular starters despite two first round opportunities. These facts are indefensible.
The other decisions which Broncos fans repeatedly point to, however, have turned out way better than they first seemed.
Continue to read more reasons Josh McDaniels deserves credit for helping turn the Broncos into Super Bowl contenders.