Pat Bowlen made big news two days after the NFL regular season ended by firing the face of his franchise and long-time head coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan served 14 years as the Broncos head coach, and another 7 years as an assistant in Denver before that. All total, Shanahan has spent 21 of his 24 seasons in the NFL with the Broncos.
Broncos fans, especially me, have been waiting impatiently for the Broncos to name their replacement. Well, the announcement just came 20 minutes ago. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that Mike Shanahan's successor is... Josh McDaniels?
That's right: the Broncos have reached an agreement to hire 32-year-old New England Patriots quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to be the new head coach. It seems that Bowlen never wants to go through this process again, so he wanted a younger guy that would stay here awhile. You can't hardly go much younger than McDaniels. This is really a strange hire. Shanahan has been revered for years as the offensive authority in the NFL, and he has been replaced now with an offensive guy. The Broncos' hiring committee had urged all of the candidates that they hired to retain several offensive coaches, particularly the Broncos' own 32-year-old quarterbacks coach/offensive play-caller Jeremy Bates, who recently signed a 3-year contract extension and has a very strong relationship with Jay Cutler. I didn't see this one coming at all.
McDaniels makes sense on a lot of levels. Every team that has interviewed him thus far has given him a ringing endorsement. Obviously, the Broncos are no different. He was the second candidate to be interviewed, following Steve Spagnuolo. After Todd Bowles interviewed on Friday, Broncos Chief Operating Officer Joe Ellis flew east and had a reported 6-hour sit down with McDaniels, and must have reached an agreement there. Obviously, Pat Bowlen fell in love with McDaniels, and that was his guy. McDaniels is known for coaching offense, but he does have experience on the defensive side of the ball, which is where the Broncos need the most help. He served as the Patriots defensive backs coach for 2 seasons before moving to the offensive side of the ball.
This is obviously a bit of a head scratcher, as the Broncos need defensive help. I was fully expecting to hear tomorrow that they had hired Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. There won't be any shock in the press conference tomorrow, but I will still be in disbelief. It seems that, in general, offensive coordinators tend to make better head coaches than defensive coordinators, but I don't know that that is accurate. Generally, great defensive coordinators are locked up for years by the teams that they work for. I don't think that had anything to do with this hiring. Obviously, Bowlen liked the guy a lot. Money probably had a lot to do with it as well. I wouldn't imagine that McDaniels would cost much over $2 million/year, which is great for Pat Bowlen, as he could conceivably be paying Mike Shanahan $20 million over the next three seasons. Whatever the reason, the wait is over. Josh McDaniels is the Denver Broncos head coach.