Josh McDaniels has created controversy essentially from the day he stepped into Dove Valley. He goes out under the same swirling cries of fans. There are those who are nearly mourning his departure and those that can't kick the door hard enough on his way out. I have several observations about his firing.
1. This had more to do with poor offensive performance than defense. In my opinion that was supposed to be his masterpiece and in multiple games severely underperformed. Whether that was the fault of Orton (in my mind a fair amount of it was) McD was ultimately responsible for the performance of the offense. I expected the defense to stumble in games and in reality perform somewhat poorly with how many defensive starters we had missing; what I did not expect is for the offense to put up 14 points in a blowout game and lose a game only scoring 6 points. For an "offensive guru" this is completely unacceptable and was the most disappointing aspect of all the games that we lost. Orton seemed to lack any leadership this year on the field which was surprising to me, I feel that he seemed to display this much more last season and during the preseason.
2. I see several possible reasons that MCD was fired:
a. Bowlen was feeling fan pressure. Apparently there were about 20,000 seats empty at the last home game, Bowlen recognized that losing was having an adverse affect on fan attendance and McD was taking the brunt of the fan discontent. If Bowlen did this for fan attendance then he is extremely shortsighted and could possible have set the Bronco's back for many years. More on this later.
b. McD-refused to start Tebow. Obviously there has been a lot of discussion of the merits or lack thereof for playing Tebow this year. I can see both sides of the discussion. What can't be denied is that it would have at least in the short-term improved fan attendance. Maybe Bowlen wanted McD to start Tebow and he refused. Again seems somewhat shortsighted.
c. He refused to have a more powerful GM over him. I do think that this would likely have been a big positive and may have helped him negotiate some of the stickier issues of personnel, it definitely would have taken the heat off of him for some of the personnel decisions even if it just meant that fans blamed someone else. This itself may have saved his job. Personally I think that he needed to give up his offensive playcalling, he always seemed to entranced by his playbook rather than being focused on the overall energy and flow of the game. It also may have contributed to some of the timing issues in the games.
d. More was uncovered regarding Spygate II-if this is the case then McD may have set the franchise back more than even his most ardent enemies even imagine. If we lose a 1st round draft pick for the next season that will severely limit our abilities to improve our defense.
2. Despite questionable personnel decisions McD had a several year plan for the team. By firing him we could certainly put ourselves in a 10 year cycle of mediocrity by hiring another coach who does not have a similar plan for the team. This will mean trying to recreate a team over the next several years which doesn't give an incoming coach much latitude with players again trying to learn a new system. How will fans respond if we have another season like this? Or several more?
3. Who will replace McD? Bowlen better have thought this through thoroughly before he fired McD. I can't say there are really any candidates that seem very enticing to me. I am not sold on Gruden although the fact that he likes Tebow is a positive. Cowher despite his Super Bowl win also doesn't give me confidence that he can turn this team around quickly.
4. With a looming lockout McD's firing is even more questionable. Why would we pay 3 coaches for a season which may not even happen? This may play Spygate II as if there is more evidence then we may not have to pay McD. If this is the case while it saves Bowlen money it does absolutely nothing for the Broncos. In summary: While I am not sure that what Bowlen did was wrong for the Broncos I am far from being convinced that what he did was right for the Broncos. If we turn into the Raiders I will only blame Bowlen and Joe Ellis and if we turn it around next season (if there is one) and are 9-7 or better (which seems unlikely) I will not blame McD as a scapegoat for this season.