If things had all gone according to Josh McDaniels’ plan, Tim Tebow might still be the quarterback of the Denver Broncos.
I don’t know if McDaniels would have been able to lure Peyton Manning to Denver the way John Elway did. In fact, I highly doubt it. What I do know is that McDaniels left some pieces in place for the Broncos that have this team primed for a championship run.
It might have been an ugly tenure in Denver for Ol’ McD, but you have to give the guy credit for making some moves that have been absolutely huge for this franchise.
McDaniels’ first ever pick as the Denver Broncos’ head coach was running back Knowshon Moreno, taken with the 12th overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.
The 2009 draft was not one of McDaniels’ best–or anyone in the NFL for that matter–but Moreno is a good player who is still starting on the Broncos despite the ups and downs of his career. I know a lot of fans still don’t like Moreno, and there is no doubt he was over-drafted, but he couldn’t really help that and at this point, it doesn’t matter where he was drafted.
The former Georgia star left college after just two seasons (RS Sophomore) and was handed the Broncos’ starting RB job as a young kid who didn’t really know anything about the NFL, and to be honest, he was playing on a terrible team led by Kyle Orton.
Moreno has always been a good dual-threat back for the Broncos, but injuries and inconsistencies have plagued his career. Heading into 2013, it was expected Moreno would take third string duties with Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman in the fold, but he established himself early on as the team’s top back and he’s had a couple of really solid games so far already this season, leading the Broncos with 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The second pick in the McDaniels era was Robert Ayers, who couldn’t have had a more slow start to his career. Ayers didn’t have a single sack in his rookie season, and through four games in 2013, he’s already eclipsed his career-high of three sacks with 3.5 on the year.
Ayers is finally seeming to come into his own as a complete defensive end, making plays behind the line of scrimmage and playing with a little extra chip on his shoulder.
In 2010, the infamous Tebow draft, the Broncos also selected some key playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Demaryius Thomas was the first receiver selected that year, and the Broncos liked his character and upside obviously a little better at the time compared to Dez Bryant, who was almost a unanimous #1 receiver in that draft who fell to the Cowboys just two picks after Denver took Thomas.
Thomas has established himself as one of the best receivers in the game, and was Peyton Manning’s favorite target in 2012. He is joined at the WR position by another McDaniels pick, former Minnesota star Eric Decker.
Decker is entering a contract year, but the Broncos would love to have him around for a while especially after his team-leading 13 touchdown grabs in 2012. He’s not off to a roaring start in 2013 by any means but Decker has made good on his opportunities and is really picking it up after a poor showing against the Baltimore Ravens in week one. He is a valuable piece of the offense going forward.
Another McDaniels pick that has worked out well is guard Zane Beadles, who made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and has done a fine job again in 2013.
Other players like Britton Colquitt, Kevin Vickerson, David Bruton, and Tony Carter were originally brought in by the McDaniels regime, and are still making a significant impact for the Broncos.
So, while we won’t exactly say “Thanks” to McDaniels for his work with the Broncos, we at least recognize the fact that he set the team up with at least some very key pieces to a potential Super Bowl run.
And for that, we thank you.