Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC West [Print without images]

Monday, January 12, 2009
In the end, Denver stays with offense

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

 
  Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire
  ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will be hired as the new head coach of the Broncos.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Denver Broncos are banking on Josh McDaniels to be a better offensive coach than Mike Shanahan.

At least that's what this hire, reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, implies.

McDaniels, New England's 32-year-old offensive coordinator, is considered one of the best young offensive minds working in the league today. Shanahan -- fired by Denver less than two weeks ago after 14 years -- is one of the best offensive minds the NFL has ever seen.

Because Denver's defense was Shanahan's eventual demise, many expected Denver would hire a defensive-minded coach. Three of the seven candidates interviewed in Denver were defensive coaches.

But in the end, Denver is staying with offense.

It is another reminder that Denver owner Pat Bowlen just wanted to make a change. He needed fresh blood to give his organization a new message.

McDaniels is as fresh as it gets. Now, can he get more points out of an offense that ate up yards but didn't score as much as it could have in 2008?

There is no doubting McDaniels' ability. New England has been excellent with him. The final proof that he is ready to be a head coaching candidate was when backup quarterback Matt Cassel blossomed into a standout after starter Tom Brady was lost for the season in Week 1.

The Broncos have a franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler. Perhaps McDaniels was chosen because the team's brass believes he can help Cutler improve. The team was originally thinking about keeping passing game coordinator Jeremy Bates. But he is a similar coach to McDaniels, a young passing-game guru. It is not known if Bates will be kept.

Run game coordinator Rick Dennison, one of seven candidates for the head coaching job in Denver, is interviewing Monday in San Francisco for the 49ers' offensive coordinator job.

While McDaniels will clearly be in the charge of the offense and refreshing the atmosphere that got stale under Shanahan, he will need to address the defense. The Broncos have gone 24-24 over the past three seasons.

It was being reported out of Denver on Sunday night that McDaniels could bring in longtime defensive coach and former NFL head coach Dom Capers to run the defense. A respected veteran hand like Capers could help McDaniels make the transition.

McDaniels, by all accounts, is a coaching star in the making. He now has the most closely watched job in the state of Colorado and he replaces a legend.

Easy? No. But neither was the idea of replacing Brady and McDaniels managed that.