Here are five questions and answers in the aftermath of Josh McDaniels’ firing in Denver on Monday:
What does Denver do with Tim Tebow? This isn’t a great night for Tebow. McDaniels traded three draft picks to take Tebow at No. 25 in the April draft. McDaniels said one of the main reasons he targeted the former Florida star was because of an impressive pre-draft chalkboard session. But Tebow's future as an NFL player is far from secure. The Broncos are heavily invested in the young quarterback and should look to him as their future starter once Kyle Orton's contract runs out in 2012. Denver will have to find a coach who believes he can make Tebow into a legitimate NFL starter. That's why we'll hear Jon Gruden's name often in the next several weeks. Gruden has said he likes Tebow.
Will Denver spend big money on the next coach? Only if it can get out of paying McDaniels for the final two years of his contract. The Broncos could say the recent videotape scandal gave them cause to fire McDaniels. If that is the case, the Broncos may have some money to play with and perhaps pursue a big-name coach. Denver still has to pay former coach Mike Shanahan for the final year of his contract in 2011. If the Broncos have to pay Shanahan, McDaniels and a new coach next season, don’t expect it to be a big-money hire.
Who’s the sleeper choice? This process will be long and I expect Denver to look at several candidates. But keep a close eye on Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. He is a former Denver assistant and was an NFL offensive coordinator in Houston. He is highly regarded in both the NFL and the college coaching ranks. He is a leader who is known for his offensive knowledge, people skills and integrity. McDaniels had a habit of ruffling feathers. The quiet and polite Calhoun wouldn’t recognize a ruffled feather.
What’s next for McDaniels? McDaniels made no secret he wanted to be like his New England mentor, Bill Belichick. Well, he’s off to a fine start. Like Belichick in Cleveland, McDaniels was run out of his first NFL gig. The problem for McDaniels is that there's no guarantee he’ll get another chance to be a head coach anytime soon. He may have to re-establish himself as an assistant coach elsewhere. Because of the videotape scandal, his 11-17 record and his history of clashing with others, McDaniels isn’t exactly an A-list candidate these days. But he’s a smart guy who is clearly a strong offensive mind. There is still room in the NFL for this intense 34-year-old.
What happens to McDaniels’ assistants? The group, which includes quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels (McDaniels’ younger brother) remains intact for now. But the coaches know they are now playing for their next job. Sure, a couple of McDaniels’ staff members could be kept by the new coach, but that would be unusual. There will be wholesale changes in Denver.