It's been all of an hour an a half, and as would be completely expected, the initial shock is now morphing into taking sides on Bowlen's decision. As someone who was never a McDaniels supporter, I'm not going to lose any sleep over the fact that he's gone, but I was not necessarily a fan of letting him go mid-season - until very recently, and for reasons that had nothing to do with the Broncos. To the jump....
No one should be oblivious to what has happened in Minnesota and Dallas over the last month. Both teams are on a tear, rejuvenated by coaching moves that were seen as risky, but ultimately revealed the lack of motivation the previous coaches had been able to muster. Could that happen with the Broncos? I would hope so, but I would quickly opine that that on a position by position basis, both the Vikings and the Cowboys are more talented teams than the Broncos, particularly on defense. There is also very little indication that the Bronco players were underachieving so badly due to a disconnect from McDaniels. I personally do not see how they could have been fired up for the guy, but different personalities mesh with other in odd ways.
But the primary reason I think this mid-season firing could be beneficial has nothing to do with the Viking or Cowboys, or with the current Bronco team as it stands. Go back two years to McDaniels' hiring and his first draft. It has been documented ad nauseum that he was unprepared for the draft - due to lack of time, by his assertion - resulting in, ahem, questionable moves. Again and again. Of course, he did it again the next season with all the time in the world to prepare, so that benefit of the doubt is probably on shaky ground.
Bowlen's seemingly split-second decision tells me that he wasn't intending on keeping McDaniels around anyway - did that even need said? - but that he also doesn't want a repeat of two years ago. So here is the possible genius of the timing: The Rooney rule aside, if Bowlen already knows the guy he wants to replace McDaniels, then bring him in early, give him four weeks to assess what is already in place in live actions situations and a full run-in to the draft and offseason. It sounds so simple when written out, but to take that chance would be rare. Although this season could set a precedent.
Could we be in for a rough last quarter of the season? Absolutely. But if Bowlen already has his guy in mind, this could wind up being the best thing for next season (assuming there is a next season).