The Denver Broncos will now face an old friend turned foe in former HC Josh McDaniels twice a year as he joins the rival Raiders. What should they expect?
Most fans of the Denver Broncos probably prefer to not be reminded of the mess that was the Josh McDaniels era. In his first stint (and what was thought to be his last) as a head coach, McDaniels finished his tenure with the Broncos with a record of 11-17 and was fired before the conclusion of his second season, as the Broncos were enduring one of their worst seasons in franchise history, sitting at 3-9 at the time McDaniels was fired.
His debut season in 2009 was arguably even more disappointing. After the Broncos started red hot at 6-0, they lost eight of their next ten games and finished the season 8-8, missing the playoffs after a season that was full of so much promise.
That’s not even mentioning the fact that one of the team’s first moves under McDaniels was the trade of Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears. Prior to the trade, after a meeting gone awry between McDaniels and Cutler, Cutler made the statement:
“He’s never been critical to me. But trust now? How can I trust him now?” (per ESPN).
McDaniels also proved to have a strained relationship with Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who would also be traded away following the 2009 season.
Aside from this, one can’t forget that the Denver Broncos would be caught up in a videotaping cheating scandal, where McDaniels was accused of instructing team video operations to film another team’s walk-through practice prior to an international game in London.
Following his stint with the Broncos, McDaniels would eventually return to his previous position as offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots. In 2018, it looked as if McDaniels was going to get his second chance as a head coach with the Indianapolis Colts, but spurned the team last minute in favor of remaining with the Patriots.
After this shocking move by McDaniels, most in the football world felt pretty confident that if he had not before with the Denver Broncos, McDaniels had now surely burned his last bridge of head coach consideration.
This week, those thoughts were proven to be proven false, as in a surprising development, the Las Vegas Raiders hired Josh McDaniels to be their next head coach following the resignation of Jon Gruden in the middle of the 2021 season.
Now, the Denver Broncos will meet their former head coach at least twice a year. So, what should the Broncos expect to see from McDaniels as the coach of a divisional rival?
One thing that can be expected is that the Broncos are surely going to see a much wiser and more mature version of their former head coach. Just 33 years old when he became the replacement for Mike Shanahan, he has gained twelve more years of experience (now age 45) and has likely learned from his mistakes.
This week, McDaniels addressed those mistakes:
"Looking at that experience has been one of the best things in my life in terms of my overall growth as a person, as a coach. What do I need to do different, how do I need to handle my role, if I have another opportunity, and do better at it?McDaniels via ESPN"
Another thing Broncos Country should consider is the offensive knowledge he will be bringing to the Raiders and in working with veteran quarterback Derek Carr. His offensive accomplishments in his time with the Patriots speak for themselves and bringing his offensive schemes in could maximize Derek Carr’s success and revitalize an offensive unit that really did not meet expectations in 2021, though Carr himself had a great season.
Overall, Josh McDaniels’ time with the Denver Broncos was a complete disaster. Realistically, the only gift he really gave the team was losing enough games in the 2010 season to allow the team to draft Von Miller in the 2011 NFL Draft. It did not seem unreasonable that McDaniels may have never been afforded another opportunity as a head coach, especially after bailing on the Colts in 2018.
However, McDaniels has been given a second chance, and it happens to be with one of the Denver Broncos’ biggest rivals. While Broncos Country may be laughing at the expense of the Raiders now, they may not be down the road. While it may seem like a ridiculous move to some right now, it is highly probable that the Raiders will be receiving the same immature head coach the Broncos hired in 2009.
If Josh McDaniels can run the Las Vegas Raiders the way he was able to run his offenses in New England, we may see some redemption for him, which will be much to the chagrin of Broncos fans everywhere, especially if the Broncos find themselves defeated by McDaniels and his team in 2022.
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It is hard to say what a McDaniels-led Raiders team will look like in 2022, but both the Denver Broncos and their fans must be ready for the potential outcome that it is nothing they were treated to by their former coach before: success?
Time will tell.