On December 31, Pat Bowlen made a 'historic change' to the Denver Broncos organization. He said as much when he relieved Mike Shanahan of his duties and the one-stop shop of Broncos' management. He made one other telling comment that day that has stuck with me during the whirlwind that has been the past 65 days at Dove Valley.
"I am here everyday. I am in charge, I make the calls."
The implication in that statement, to me, was that Bowlen had watched Mike Shanahan manage his business solo for long enough, and Bowlen wanted a bigger say in his team. Now, Bowlen will never be as overbearing as Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder, but I got the feeling that he was going to be more vocal, more visible in the day-to-day operations. I thought, at the time, that this would be a good thing for the Broncos, Bowlen is respected throughout the League and his voice commands respect.
Here we sit, some 10 weeks later, and the Broncos appear to be in dissarray. I won't get into the details of a story we all know about, but no matter which side you fall on, I think we'd all agree that something has to happen, there needs to be resolution.
I'm not looking for any type of knee-jerk reaction. In all honesty, the Broncos hold all the cards, have all the leverage. It's not good to have a rift between your starting QB and Head Coach, but similar "trade me or else" statements were made by Chad Johnson and Anquan Boldin, with Johnson going so far as to say he would play in the Arena League. In the end, both played.
Some of you might say there is a big difference, that those guys are Wide Receivers, not the Quarterback. That is true, but Cutler cannot simply blow off the 2009 season. He wants a new deal, I think we'd all agree to that, and how he handles this situation will go a long way towards the number of zeros are added to that deal. If Cutler plays poorly in 2009, it could represent his mental toughness in a negative light. Whether the perception would be he couldn't grasp a new offense, or his play was affected by his unhappiness, neither would look good in the eyes of other teams.
Of course, an unhappy quarterback does not make for an environment conducive to winning. By signing players like Brian Dawkins, the Broncos are trying to do their best to win now. A happy Jay Cutler, at least between the lines, would go a long way towards that.
That is where Mr. Bowlen comes in. This is his team, and these are his employees. He is the only one that can make this go away, one way or the other, and still allow the major players to save face. No matter who you side with, and that fact that we as a fan base are forced to choose sides annoys me, both men have stuck to their guns, and both men feel any concessions at this point will undermine their ability to lead - Cutler on the field, McDaniels in the locker room.
If Mr. Bowlen came out and said, one way or the other, "this is how this is going to be," it would force the two sides to come to a resolution, or at least show the fans that yes, he is in charge, yes, he is in the building, and yes, he does make the calls. As someone that manages people, I respect that Mr. Bowlen is letting his employees do their jobs, but in the end, only he is completely accountable for what the Broncos do for they are his team, his business.
All this back-and-forth, he-said-he-said stuff has been great drama and has provided guys like me plenty to talk about. Enough is enough, however. By stepping in now, all this drama could be forgotten about by the time the Draft rolls around and the Broncos can get back to the business of trying to win football games.
Either way, if Bowlen decided to cut ties with Cutler, or if he forces the two sides together, a statement now would calm the waters and steady the frayed nerves of Broncos fans everywhere. That is what we are looking for from the man in charge - to make a call that will end this nonsense once and for all.