The message continues to be clear in Denver: If you get on Josh McDaniels’ bad side, you will be soon playing elsewhere.
He famously threw down that gauntlet before he even roamed the sideline as a head coach when he tossed Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler out of town after the two engaged in a five-week spat.
In the past week, McDaniels reminded his troops that he runs the show when he traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami and tight end Tony Scheffler to Detroit for draft picks. Like Cutler, the losses of Marshall and Scheffler hurt Denver’s talent level on the field.
But that doesn’t matter to McDaniels. He’d prefer to build his program with his own players.
Marshall and Scheffler were benched (they were not allowed on the sideline) for the final game of the 2009 season for infractions McDaniels labeled as accountability issues. The Broncos were still in the playoff mix when McDaniels made the decision.
Still, team rules over talent in McDaniels’ world.
Marshall and Scheffler were as good as gone as soon as they were disciplined. To McDaniels’ defense, Marshall was a major problem during the Mike Shanahan era as well. However, like Cutler, Scheffler had no significant issues under Shanahan’s regime.
McDaniels has a short leash. Mess with him and you’re gone from Denver. Is that the right approach for him to take? We’ll see, but the thing about McDaniels is he doesn’t care about his perception. He is doing it his way.
He doesn’t feel like he has any choice but to move on without players he doesn’t think are on board with the program. There is a major risk involved, especially when you deal talented players like the young trio that has departed Denver.
But McDaniels is either going to succeed or fail on his own terms.