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Saturday, November 27, 2010
Is taping incident final straw for McDaniels?

By Bill Williamson

This is an "are you kidding me?" moment.

The NFL has fined the Denver Broncos and coach Josh McDaniels a combined $100,000 because the team's video operations director, Steve Scarnecchia, videotaped a San Francisco 49ers' walkthrough in London before the Broncos’ loss to the 49ers on Oct.31.

Are you kidding me?

The Broncos say Scarnecchia acted alone and McDaniels declined to watch the film. But the NFL fined McDaniels for not reporting it in a timely manner. Scarnecchia was fired.

This might eventually be McDaniels’ ticket out of Denver.

This happened on McDaniels’ watch and ultimately it’s his responsibility, especially given the history of the infamous Spygate case.

Scarnecchia, the only son of Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, was on the Patriots' staff from 2001-04. McDaniels, who worked in New England from 2001-09, hired him in Denver shortly after he became Broncos head coach. In the Spygate case that caused many to believe the Patriots' dynasty was tainted, New England was punished by the NFL for taping the New York Jets in 2007.  The Patriots lost a first-round pick in 2008 and the NFL fined the team ($250,000) and head coach Bill Belichick ($500,000).  There were eyebrows raised when McDaniels brought a member of the New England video team with him when he was hired as Denver’s coach in January 2009.

This is really bad, folks. The heat is already on McDaniels in Denver because the Broncos are 3-7 this season and 5-15 since he started 6-0 last season. McDaniels is a reviled figure in the eyes of many Denver fans.

The Broncos have stood firmly behind McDaniels, but this changes the landscape. There will be increased pressure for the team to fire McDaniels if the losing continues, and the team could have just cause to do so, meaning Denver ownership could get out of McDaniels’ contract.

There could be little reason to keep a struggling coach who helped put a major blemish on the organization. Denver will be lucky if it doesn’t receive the same punishment as New England -- the loss of a first-round pick. The Broncos could be on pace for a top-five pick. 

The Broncos say they are moving on and McDaniels is expected to address the situation later today.