Josh McDaniels joined the Patriots in 2001, the year Drew Bledsoe was hurt and Tom Brady led them to their first Super Bowl win. It's no surprise he explored trading an established Pro Bowler like Jay Cutler to get his guy in New England, Matt Cassel. That deal fell through, but proved McDaniels will try to follow Bill Belichick's lead and concentrate more on getting guys that fit his system than raw talent.
Now that the relationship between McDaniels and Cutler is on rocky footing -- a reconciliation conference call reportedly didn't go well -- the team and the quarterback should part ways sooner rather than later. You have to imagine McDaniels wants to find his Brady. Cutler likely won't be that quarterback.
No one can question Cutler's arm strength, but he hasn't shown the accuracy, decision-making or leadership skills McDaniels will need to turn the Broncos into the Patriots of the West. Cutler threw 18 interceptions last season and failed to inspire the team down the stretch as the Broncos blew the AFC West lead to San Diego. After their collapse, Cutler came out and criticized the defense ... something Brady would never have even considered.
Even if Cutler stays in Denver, he may not be comfortable enough to thrive under McDaniels. Young quarterbacks need their coach to believe in them and McDaniels could have a harder time getting through to the sensitive quarterback now.
Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and San Francisco have been rumored as potential landing sports if Broncos trade Cutler. Those are all potentially bad situations for a quarterback, but if Cutler really believes in his skills, he won't be afraid to start over with a rebuilding team.
Meanwhile, McDaniels seemed willing to go with Cutler after he missed out on acquiring Cassel. But the Broncos could still turn to free agency or a trade to bring in someone else. McDaniels doesn't need someone with a big arm like Cutler. For now, he would be better off with a middle-of-the-road talent like Cassel (who was traded to Kansas City), that can master the short-and-intermediate game while avoiding turnovers.
For McDaniels to succeed he's going to have to build a Super Bowl team. The Broncos have been over .500 regularly since John Elway retired, but the franchise's expectations are clearly higher. To get to the next level, McDaniels needs to find his Brady. What's the point of trying to force a fit with Cutler if that's not where the coach-QB relationship is headed?