FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Denver Broncos announced Monday night that Josh McDaniels has been relieved of his head coaching duties. With McDaniels' ties to the Patriots, here are a few thoughts on this development:
I feel as if McDaniels' undoing in Denver is as much about personnel as coaching, as well as the failure to surround himself with more coaches who had been in the Bill Belichick system and understood the demands of the program.
As McDaniels proved when the Broncos opened the 2009 season 6-0, he is not only a solid offensive coach but also capable of being a head coach.
But he made his own job harder over time with too many poor personnel decisions, some of which were made on emotion (e.g. trading a 2010 first-round draft choice to draft CB Alphonso Smith in the 2009 second round). The talent on the Broncos' roster got worse in his tenure, not better. He needed an experienced personnel man to handle that side of things for him -- someone who had worked in the Belichick system and understood the type of player McDaniels was seeking -- so he could focus on the coaching aspect of the job.
I also sensed that he didn't surround himself with enough people who had been in the Belichick program; McDaniels could drive a hard bargain with his coaches and someone who hasn't worked in that environment can have a tough adjustment with that style. I think that is reflected in how news of McDaniels' closed-door meeting with coaches about the Broncos' taping incident became public. Someone turned on McDaniels.
I feel strongly about McDaniels' abilities as a coach, to the point that I think he could be Belichick's successor in New England when that time comes. Along those lines, I don't think there has been any permanent harm in the McDaniels/Belichick relationship from this year's videotaping incident.
It will be easy to look at McDaniels' tenure in Denver and say the job was too big for him. It's hard to argue against that thought. But I see McDaniels back on the sidelines next year -- a 1996-type Belichick top assistant position could fit, possibly in New England -- while working his way back toward another chance to be a head coach.