Don Martindale's promotion from Denver's linebackers coach to defensive coordinator is just as important to the career of head coach Josh McDaniels as it is for Martindale.
Ten days ago, McDaniels and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan mutually parted ways. The word from people close to both sides said the two men decided during the season that they weren’t great fits. Nolan, however, was good at his job. He brought instant life into Denver’s defense and the Broncos finished No. 7 in the NFL.
If Martindale fails as a defensive coordinator, and Denver’s defense reverts to the final days of the Mike Shanahan era, it will be reflect poorly on McDaniels. People will blame him for not making it work with Nolan.
I’m not saying this move won’t be successful. The book on Martindale around the league is positive. He is known as a good coach whose players respond well to him.
McDaniels clearly believes there will be no philosophical problems with Martindale as the two worked well together last year. Having the head coach and defensive coordinator on the same page is essential and that’s where this relationship is heading into the 2010 season.
This offseason, Denver will focus on improving the talent on defense, especially in the front seven. There is a decent chance the Broncos’ defense will remain a unit on the rise.
Ultimately, McDaniels’ future could depend on it.