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Josh McDaniels wise to leave Broncos off list of interview references

As McDaniels interviews around the league, Broncos fans will never forget what he did in Denver.

Chiefs v. Broncos Photo by David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Before the carousel of dud quarterbacks, before the Super Bowl appearances, before Peyton Manning, and before Tebow’s magical run, there was Josh McDaniels. Believe it or not, it’s been close to 10 years since Josh McDaniels was fired from the Denver Broncos.

Vance Joseph, Gary Kubiak, and John Fox have all come and gone since McDaniels was unceremoniously relieved of head coaching duties, but make no mistake which former coach many fans still regard as the worst in recent team history.

On Monday, the Cleveland Browns will meet with Denver’s notorious former coach to interview him for their current opening. Undoubtedly, questions will likely come up regarding his disastrous time in Denver. Here’s a look back at the destruction he left behind.

When Mike Shanahan was fired following the 2008 season, many Broncos fans felt that Denver had a roster that, under new leadership, could thrive into the future. Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Peyton Hillis, Tony Scheffler, and punter Brett Kern comprised a young core that appeared poised to take the Broncos competently into the future.

While there is some dissent on just who was the biggest petulant child during the Cutler-McDaniels fight, fans can agree that it was a nasty harbinger of things to come. It wasn’t just Cutler that McDaniels couldn’t get along with, he single-handedly drove, traded, cut, or alienated that young core and, while he was at it, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan for being his unlikable incompetent self.

So who did Josh bring in to replace these fan favorites?

Who can forget the arrival of Kyle Orton in the Cutler trade? How about New England castoffs like Laurence Maroney, Jabar Gaffney, Le Kevin Smith, and Lonie Paxton?

Lonie Paxton? For whatever reason, McDaniels released long time long snapper Mike Leach in favor of former Patriot Lonie Paxton to the tune of a 5 year for $5.53 million contract. To put this breathtakingly stupid move in perspective, the Broncos current long snapper Casey Kreiter’s base salary in 2019 was just $800,000. Remember, this was Paxton’s contract BEFORE the current 2011 collective bargaining agreement. To put it into perspective, the salary cap was $60 million less then than it is today.

It’s important to note that Brett Kern, the punter that McDaniels ran off in favor of Mitch Berger (who flamed out after just one season), just helped punt the Patriots out of the playoffs on Saturday with the Titans. Yes, he’s still punting, going to the 2019 Pro Bowl, and was named a 2019 1st Team All-Pro. Remarkable.

Also worth mentioning is that Josh couldn’t draft Rob Gronkowski in 2010, so he brought Gronk’s brother Dan to Denver instead. Granted, he was able to unload his historically bad 2nd round draft dud Alphonso Smith to Detroit to get him, but still.

What’s lost in the current Patriots videotaping scandal is the fact that it’s actually the third such time it has happened involving a Josh McDaniels team. While the 2019 Patriots’ attempts to squirm out of the cheating charges may or may not be successful, make no mistake, Josh McDaniels’ Denver Broncos were found guilty of cheating... with the SAME guy that cheated for the Patriots during the very first Spygate scandal in 2007. From MHR at the time:

The Denver Broncos and Josh McDaniels have each been fined $50,000 for taping the 49ers’ pre-game walk through before the game at Wembley Stadium earlier in November, per Jason La Canfora of NFL Network.

La Canfora also reports that Steve Scarnecchia, who was on a leave of absence, was fired from the team, and will be under further investigation from the NFL and a ban from the league is not out of the question.

Scarnecchia was the man behind the camera for Spygate I, making him a repeat offender to the league. The league also indicated that if any more evidence comes to light, there will be further discipline from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

When Josh McDaniels agreed to coach the Colts in the 2019 season, I wont’t blame Colts fans for trying to talk themselves into thinking it was a good idea. He couldn’t be that bad, could he? Broncos fans are just being hyperbolic, right? From our sister Colts site, Stampede Blue:

Yet when Josh McDaniels’ time spent in Denver as the head coach is discussed, we tend to drop all the weight of blame directly on him with all the nuance of an argument about politics on Twitter. McDaniels certainly failed. That fact is not up for debate. Any Broncos fan will tell you, some very heatedly about all the areas he went wrong.

The argument I would like to make is that his failure was not as spectacular as it is made out to be. I would also argue that the Broncos share equal, or perhaps even greater responsibility for that failure than McDaniels himself.

Then a week later:

...and then:

If you have enjoyed reading this long-winded indictment of the cheating scoundrel that is Josh McDaniels, then you will love this Stampede Blue article entitled, “Colts Dodge Bullet: McDaniels Lacks Integrity, Belongs in New England,” wherein they painstakingly document every Patriots and McDaniels scandal and misstep over the last 20 years.

This is not the kind of man fans in Indianapolis want representing their team or their city. It is best that the team moves on to find someone else who will lead with the kind of ethical compass and integrity that reflects the fabric of the city of Indianapolis and is compatible with the blue blood that runs through the entire Colts fan base.

So the Cleveland Browns are getting ready to interview this man for their open head coach position on Monday. If that’s not the most Cleveland Browns thing ever, I don’t know what is. All I can say is, Josh McDaniels knows better to ask Broncos Country for a reference... because this article and the one from Stampede Blue is as positive as ones for him will ever be. Good luck, Joshy.


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