McD wants defenses' hate
By Woody Paige
The Denver Post Posted: 07/27/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT Updated: 07/27/2009 01:24:38 AM MDT
New Broncos coach Josh McDaniels gets comfortable while watching game film a week before training camp. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
"There are things we will do (offensively) that other teams have never done."
Josh McDaniels is not kidding, boasting, lying, hypothesizing.
The new head of state for the Broncos is issuing a forewarning, a challenge, a notification, a declaration he firmly believes, to supporters, skeptics, an interloper in his office and, most important, National Football League adversaries.
McDaniels is serious as a Gottfried von Leibniz calculus problem.
"The interesting thing is people talk about our offense and kind of stereotype it as this quote spread or shotgun offense, but . . . we definitely will find different ways to make defenses work to get ready for us. (Jacksonville coach) Jack Del Rio said it best two years ago. He said preparing for us (New England) was like preparing for six different offenses. We want to dictate to defenses."
To a visitor, McDaniels applies the word "we" to describe both the Patriots and the Broncos, which raises the question: "How much of this will be the Patriots' offense and your own offense?"
The answer is: "I will answer bluntly. I will do anything to help this team win. (Patriots coach Bill Belichick) never discouraged me from doing things I thought would be successful."
What about the length and breadth of his playbook?
"It's a library," said McDaniels, who points across the room to a bookcase.
Standing upright by itself on the top shelf is a book that looks like a condensed (just slightly) version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Who wrote it - Victor Hugo?
McDaniels smiles. "We won't use all of it, but we will go into it each week and choose the best plays for that game."
For instance? He's not talking. But last year's Offensive Scheme Du Jour, popularized by the Dolphins, was the "Wildcat," a direct snap to the running back. Will the Broncos try it?
"We may, we may not. We're going to practice with it, but I will say this: It won't be our bread and butter."
On the eve
of his first training camp as a head coach, McDaniels is staring at a big-screen flat TV on the wall that is frozen on a play involving the Cincinnati Bengals. The Broncos go to Cincinnati the season-opening Sunday.
McDaniels, per custom of coaches, will not get into prognostications. "I know it's a cliche, but I just want to be 1-0."
Although McDaniels claims not to read newspapers, he thinks the intruder, frequently as wrong as a TV weather forecaster, has "predicted that we will five games."
He is corrected. "You have me confused with someone else. Six, but that's a preliminary guess, based on the schedule. I'll make my final prediction after the third exhibition," which, by chance, will be against the Bears and you-know-who.
"You can't judge teams on the basis of last year. Schedule strength is a hoax. Coaches, players, owners change. There are so many variables," McDaniels said, sounding like a calculus professor.
A polite argument ensues. "You have to play at Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Washington, Kansas City in December when it's always cold and Philadelphia. You've got home games against Dallas, Pittsburgh, the Giants and, yes, New England. You can't tell me those games won't be tough."
"Another cliche, but every game in the NFL is tough. Last year who thought the Dolphins and the Falcons were going to be as good as they were?
"All I can tell you is I've never been a part of a losing season in my life - not when I started playing
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McDaniels rattles off his principal concerns about the Broncos: "turnovers" - (18 interceptions, 14 fumbles); lack of foes' turnovers - "Way too many times we didn't cause any turnovers" (six interceptions, nine fumble recoveries); drive start - "We were one of the last teams in the league in field position on special teams," and the Broncos "scored only three points all year in the two-minute offense - 17 drives and had one field goal. Do that and you won't win."
The principal concern outside the organization is about the quarterback position. McDaniels, as coach and by choice, is attached at the hip, literally, with Kyle Orton.
"It's a tough adjustment coming into our system. Kyle moved here full time and has learned the offense. We threw everything at him. He's watching film, studying all the time. I feel very good about him and Chris (Simms). Kyle's a smart player. He brings leadership, toughness. He has responded to adversity in the past. Teammates say they like him. We're pushing him hard. We're not going to ask him to do things that are not best suited for him.
"In New England we never asked Tom Brady to become an outside-the-pocket runner. We're not going to handicap him; we're going to help him. We want Kyle to be smart, be accurate and run our system."
The secondary concern for others is the secondary, the linebackers, the defensive linemen - the defense.
"We've told our defensive backs we want two things: 'Don't let the ball go over your heads, and if a ball carrier gets to you, tackle him.' "
In regard to the defensive linemen switching to outside linebacker, McDaniels says: "They know how to go forward. If they have to go backward, we're not going to make them do things they can't."
And defensive linemen, specifically free-agent tackle Ronnie Fields?
"With his size and strength, we don't think he will be beat at the line of scrimmage."
There remains a confusing public and media perception of McDaniels because of all that has transpired since he became the Broncos coach. Is he brash or confident? Is he Belichick Jr. or a brilliant coach with youthful exuberance? Did he make smart or stupid decisions with Jay Cutler, in free agency, with Brandon Marshall, in the draft?
After three extended interviews with the coach, the third lasting two hours Friday, the observer knows Josh is engaging, self-assured, likable, oft-times funny at his own expense, serious about his profession and goals, an NFL historian, highly intelligent, a dedicated husband and father and a clever, gifted football coach.
We do not know if he can do things that have been done six times with three coaches (one in his first season) - lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
Woody Paige: 303-954-1095 or firstname.lastname@example.org