He said, he said, we said, they said. That is the Brandon Marshall Situation in a nutshell. I made my opinions clear multiple times this offseason; so I won't beat a dead horse, but I think it bears repeating that this is the week there needs to be some kind of resolution, and some flexibility on both sides.
I have tried to provide you as much information as possible regarding the Marshall V. Broncos battle, including his interview on the Michael Irvin show last Wednesday. Some more came out this morning in Peter King's MMQB. King was in Denver last week and talked to Marshall. His conversation was short and brief, but telling nonetheless.
I have added some emphasis to the areas I found 'eyebrow raising' --
In the category of "Strange Training Camp Interviews,'' I bring you mine with Brandon Marshall in Denver the other day.
Me: "Can you be happy here long-term?''
Marshall: "I can be happy playing football.''
Marshall: "I can be happy playing football.'' (Wide smile.)
Me: "How do you like Josh McDaniels and his offense?''
Marshall: "I don't know too much about either.''
Me: "Can you be productive even if you're not happy?''
Marshall: "I'm going to be productive wherever I am. Somewhere.''
Me: "You're never like this. Come on. Tell me something.''
Marshall: (Wide smile. No comment.)
Marshall wants out of Denver, and he wants out even more now that he's been told he won't get either a trade or a new contract with the team. I told him he had to know there's no way the Broncos will deal him after theJay Cutler debacle, when Cutler shot himself out of town. "Really?'' he said, smiling. Yes. Really. Unless the people I trust in the building are lying or don't have the juice I think they have, Marshall, productive or unproductive, will stay in Denver all season.
I say the same thing about Marshall that I said about Cutler back in March: The match with McDaniels would be good for his career. Malingering for a year will not be good for his career. It'd reinforce what many teams in the league now think of Marshall -- that he's selfish with a troubled résumé off the field. But despite his pasted-on smile, Marshall didn't seem at all happy, or very willing to play ball with McDaniels.
Marshall did say one revealing thing, when I asked him about whether he thought the team could win with the current coaches and players, and without Mike Shanahan and Cutler. "Did we win with them?'' he said. "We didn't win, at least win a playoff game, since I've been here.''
He's right. Denver was 24-24 with Marshall, Cutler and Shanahan keying the offense. Maybe Marshall thinks he's got no chance to win with the Broncos, or no chance to get paid. But he ought to be smart enough to realize the majority of these stories have bad endings, and just because Cutler got what he wanted doesn't mean he'll get what he wants. The fact that Cutler did get what he wanted, in fact, is the exact reason why Marshall won't get his way.
Whatever, there was a weird pall hanging over the Denver camp when I was there a week ago. A smaller-than-usual Monday crowd at camp was so subdued I thought I was in church. McDaniels needs something good to happen to him, and soon.
King tried his best to get Marshall to spill the beans, but like I said on MHR Radio last week, Marshall is getting schooled on what to say and how to say it.
"Every player who was ready and able to play in this game was here, and all the guys we didn't think were ready and able stayed back home,"
Right. So here we stand, heading into the "2nd half" of the Preseason and the most important. The 'public spectacle' of Camp is over. Teams can now focus on getting to work. The practices are closed to the public and the press. For all intents and purposes, the preparations for the Regular Season start now.
The Broncos and Brandon Marshall should also start the process of getting on the same page. There is little doubt that a game of cat and mouse is being played. Brandon Marshall is doing the bare minimum in order to get paid. McDaniels looks to want Marshall to earn his way back onto the field. Marshall has no problem getting $2.5 million to play scout team.
I don't agree with either side and how they are handling it. A new contract aside, Marshall needs to show that he wants to play, and wants to compete with the Broncos. If he does, he'll get his money, whether it is in Denver or somewhere else. It is the best path to what he wants.
As for McDaniels and the Broncos, it is time they start to prepare the best 22 players they have for the regular season. Brandon Marshall fits into the category. If Marshall refuses, then suspend him and hit him where it hurts - the wallet.
A third party in all of this should get involved as well -- the veteran leadership on the team. Brian Dawkins, Champ Bailey, Brandon Stokley, even a guy like Casey Wiegmann all need to get involved and get in Marshall's ear. At some point it stops being about business (money, contracts, etc.) and starts being about winning games. Is Brandon Marshall going to be part of the problem or part of the solution? The vets need to find the answer out.
It wouldn't be a bad idea for McDaniels to create a Veteran Council to have a direct line to the locker room. It worked for Tom Coughlin in New York. Keep the pulse of the team. I don't care what kind of persona McDaniels provides the press; what he does in front of the team, in the locker room, needs to get guys to buy in, to play for him. All indications are that is happening. It is time to see that with Marshall.
It's time for a compromise. Remember, no one is completely happy in a compromise since both sides have to give a little to get a little. The greater good of the team, however, should trump personal happiness.
Whether you feel the events of the past 2 weeks are a big deal or not, we are nearing the point of no return. There is only so much prep time a guy can miss before he can't be counted on to help on September 13th. The Broncos offense has looked pretty good in the preseason, but a healthy and happy Brandon Marshall can turn "pretty-good" into "damn good".
It's time for the Broncos to get ready for the season. ALL of the Broncos.