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Horse Tracks - 1/13/09


Milehighreport_small_mediumIf he weren't vacationing at some exotic destination, Mike Shanahan might not like hearing this. But there were plenty of signs, chronological trails and anecdotal evidence suggesting that Broncos owner Pat Bowlen was smitten by the potential of Josh McDaniels long before Shanahan was fired two weeks ago as head coach.

Milehighreport_small_mediumWhen Josh McDaniels was growing up in Canton, Ohio, he would tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his father, the head coach at the local high school, and stare up at the sculptures of Johnny Unitas, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr, Dick Butkus and Vince Lombardi. He would dream of one day joining them in the hallowed shrine.

Milehighreport_small_mediumThere's now a huge blank space to fill outside the entrance to the office of the new Broncos coach, where an enormous 10-by-8-foot photograph of a screaming Mike Shanahan used to hang.

Milehighreport_small_mediumJosh McDaniels dug into the Broncos' past when making his first major decision as the team's new head coach Monday.  Mike Nolan, the former San Francisco 49ers coach who was a member of Dan Reeves' defensive staff here from 1987-92, has agreed to become the team's defensive coordinator.

Milehighreport_small_mediumNot long ago, Jim Goodman was a good ol' boy from the South, scouting football players in the area he knew best: the South.  Goodman could spend hours at a college practice, hook up with scouts over dinner to talk about the talent they just saw, chat about the weather and swap funny stories.

Milehighreport_small_mediumIf the idea was that, after 14 years featuring Mike Shanahan as the image of the Broncos, Pat Bowlen would re-assert himself front and center, it took all of about 30 seconds for the owner to shoot it down.

Milehighreport_small_mediumJosh McDaniels' first task as Denver's head coach is to find two coordinators, and both could be former Broncos.

Milehighreport_small_mediumThe questions for Chad Jackson from inquisitive teammates started over the weekend, as soon as word leaked that Josh McDaniels was the leading contender to become the Broncos' new head coach.


Milehighreport_small_mediumHe grew up the son of a coach, attending two-a-day practices since he was 5, in a part of the country where football greats are immortalized and losses linger like gray skies and heavy snow.

Milehighreport_small_mediumFor the second time in two weeks, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen stepped to a podium to announce a change of direction for his organization. And this time, he said:

Milehighreport_small_mediumJosh McDaniels tried to avoid segmenting the job he inherits in Denver and, instead, to espouse a big-picture view.  But, time after time, those nasty little words - the Broncos defense - kept coming up.


Milehighreport_small_mediumFirst of all, he's got a great haircut. You may not think that's important, but I do. The man clearly has taste.


Milehighreport_small_mediumThe 32-year-old McDaniels signed a four-year deal with the Broncos to replace Mike Shanahan, the only NFL head coach to get fired by a team he led to consecutive Super Bowl wins.
Milehighreport_small_mediumLast year, McDaniels decided that being in the midst of the pursuit of a perfect season was an imperfect time to pursue his own quest of becoming an NFL head coach, so he withdrew his name from consideration for vacancies in Atlanta and Baltimore.

Milehighreport_small_mediumThe Denver Broncos are mired in mediocrity, their 24-24 record over the last three seasons the very definition of an ordinary NFL team.

Milehighreport_small_mediumIt's hard not to feel excited about the Broncos new head coach Josh McDaniels. Until his press conference, he was just a name that we had read or heard or just a brief clip of video that we'd seen on TV. We knew that he was young. We knew that he was successful. We didn't know whether he was ready to be a head coach.