Anyone - and just about everyone - who has been reading MHR for the last couple of years, knows McDaniels had few supporters that as blindly devoted as I was. McDaniels youth brought some excitement to a team that had grown old and stale. Not much was going right for the Broncos when McDaniels took over and although the pundits said we had a high-power offense ready to go that the man subsequently dismantled - any one of us can go back and look at the stats and see how atrocious Denver was on third downs, in the red zone, and in the fourth quarter. Granted... a lot of the problem with the team was on defense, the offense still had its fair share of deficiency's and seemed to fall apart more often than it came together.
Regardless of whether any of McDaniels actions were justified, the Owner's - Pat Bowlen - were. He gave Shanahan the boot and brought in a guy who proposed to inject some youth and some fire back into a thirsty franchise, and the hire had secret promises of strong QB play written all over it - which is something that this fanbase just can't do without anymore. Elway's blessing had a curse to go along with it - in that the fans just have a hard time getting behind a team that doesn't have a solid leader at that position. We've gotten better about it, and I think Orton has been due medicine for us all.
I understand what the plan was supposed to be going into the McDaniels Era, I just think it got executed horribly - from the players up to the coaches and even to Pat Bowlen himself. We had all the right intentions but the decisions taken with care and wisdom were few and far between. I don't doubt all parties took all care and consideration, and spent many hours contemplating each decision intellectually, but there just seems to have been a general lack of wisdom and patience going around. This league can get hectic, and frantic, and the fall of the current CBA looming oever everyone's heads probably complicated things even more than normal.
I'm not writing this to hold a pity party for McDaniels. The guy had his chance, and he didn't succeed. That's that. I believed in him, and I supported him while he was our Coach (I still hope he succeeds elsewhere - though it will probably be only as an OC), but the axe came down and it is in the past. I'm just tired of hearing the hate and disdain for him; because, like it or not, we are going to be stuck with many of his personnel decsions for years to come and the course of our franchise has been forever altered from his Tenure, as any event in history tend to do. I understand the argurments coming from both sides (and the majority inbetween as well), and they each have their merits. The guy made some great decisions, and some horrible ones; and they are all in the past. We're still reaping the consequences and rewards from them, but the moves can't be taken back. We're going to live with them whether we like it or not.
I have issues with both extremes on that Era.
The pro-McDaniels side thinks that the guy was given the axe too early and deserved to at least finish out the season - but realistically, the axe didn't come quickly enough. The guy had no business managing the team single-handedly (if that was indeed the case). Things were clearly going badly from year one and a change should have been made before the 2010 season. Bowlen should have cut his losses and realized he'd made a poor choice (not necessarily in the coach he chose, but in the power allotted).
The anti-McDaniels side thinks that the past two years were entirely his fault and that we'd have been better off if he'd never been given the chance to coach our team - but realistically, it has given us as many rewards as it has consequences. It inspired Elway to rejoin the Organization (and I know that means a lot to the majority of us) at the very least, and whether you agree with his draft classes or not, the guy made some genius low-end personnel moves. It's just a shame some of the more expensive investements didn't make returns (as quickly) as hoped. The jury is still out on the majority of both draft classes, and there were just as many solid FA aquisitions as there were completely bone-headed trades (Hillis).
When we get down to the brass tax of the whole debacle, what we know is that bad decisions and poor execution ran rampant throughout the whole organization over the last two years. From the owner on down to the players. There was a plan, but it was executed poorly and mishandled at every tier. Bowlen shouldn't have given McDaniels so much power with his inexperience, Xanders shouldn't have let McD run amuck. McD should have been more patient, the assistant coaches should have spoken up, D.J. Williams (sorry to single you out DJ) shouldn't have gotten a DUI. It doesn't matter where you look everyone was guilty. The whole organization stank the last two years and it wasn't any ONE man's fault. It was everyones.
I would even blame the fans partially. The way the majority of the fanbase handled the Culter deal was nearly as immature as the guy himself. People booing the starting QB at his own home field, just because they didn't agree with the decision. Who knows what Orton's confidence and play could have been like in the first year if the fanbase was behind him 100%. But that's neither here nor there. The point is we are all guilty of something, so there's ZERO justification for anyone to be pointing fingers at this decision or the next. We all have our flaws, nobody is perfect, and unless we go around hating ourselves and punishing ourselves as equally harshly - there is no reason to scrutinize and critisize each and every choice made or each and every person involved. It was just a good idea gone wrong on many (if not every) level.
Tebow & Co. may turn out to be the silver lining in it all, Elways return, etc. There is always darkness before the dawn, so let's look to the future and leave the past behind us. Yes. I know we will still be dealing with many of the choices made during that era for the next couple of years and more, but none of them can be undone. Let's move foward on a positive note and let this new team unfold before us. It's another new year of football and everyone is 0-0. The Koolaiders can take up their 13-3 chant, and the negative nancies can scruitinize every single move Elway, Xanders, and Fox make along the way - both for the betterment of us all. I don't care which side anyone's on - because the majority of us are actually somewhere in between.
The one thing we all need to remind ourselves is that we're all pro-Broncos, and anti-"the rest of the AFC West" at the very least. Let's direct our excitement, anticipation, and effort towards this next year and the future tidings in store for us. Let's let the history be history and leave debating it to the pen-holding scholars. We're Broncos fans and our organization needs us all to be united now more than ever. Let's get behind this train - regaurdless of our well-debated opinion (which is important!) and keep pushing in the same direction.
I know the current lockout and lack of a CBA leave us little to do besides sqabble with one another and debate until we are blue in the face - but there are more productive things we COULD be doing. As a former Marine in the 4th of July spirit, let's remember a little something our late President said, albeit modified slightly: "Ask not what MHR can do for you, but ask what you can do for MHR". The premise of this site is about fans coming and contributing to and for each other. Let's not get away from that. When we write our fanposts, or shoot off our fanshots, let's remember that their goal should be to enlighten, entertain, and enjoy each other as people with a common ground and common interest - which is something we can all appreciate and relate to on this amazing holiday.
While the military members throughout the past centuries have bled the red stripes for our freedom, we here all bleed Orange and Blue everyday and all want the same thing. The continued prosperity and success of the Denver Broncos is one of the many liberties this wonderful Country grants us, and we should all appreciate it and each other. Let's remember and honor the past (regardless of our opinions of the details) and look forward to the future and new horizons.