It is never a good situation when as a coach in the NFL your Wikipedia page has been hacked and someone has changed your name to ‘Fire This Bum’.
But in the case of Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos that is exactly what is happening out there in cyberspace right now. At the tender age of just over 30 when he was appointed, there was always going to be a danger that McDaniels would be overawed on entering the cauldron of football fanaticism that is the city of Denver. This is of course the city whose home team the Denver Broncos have sold out EVERY game since the 1960s. The city where the only way to get yourself season tickets is in a will or buying the house of people leaving town who have left their tickets on the kitchen bench.
At the time of his hiring, the Broncos made McDaniels one of the youngest ever head coaches in the NFL. McDaniels certainly had showed promise during his time as an Assistant Coach at the Patriots and arrived in Denver full of passion and momentum. In his first few games as head coach McDaniels prowled the sidelines with all the enthusiasm of a 6 year old at Disneyland. The fist pumps, the wild eyes and the audible roars after a great play would have reminded many of the cauldron of simmering fury that was the previous Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, whose match day complexion made Alex Ferguson look positively albino in comparison.
But sadly for Denver Broncos fans, that was where the similarities will end.
Because while they may share the same wound up persona on field, McDaniels (sorry, ‘Fire this Bum’) will never now match the record of Shanahan who managed to win two Super Bowls during his 11 year reign as head coach of the Broncos. McDaniels may still be the head coach of the Broncos but it will only be a matter of time until their owner pulls the trigger, especially after a woeful Monday Night Football performance against their biggest rival the Chargers.
Monday night is the night when an already sports mad country steps up their fanaticism to maximum intensity. Surely that would have been the perfect stage for McDaniels to find some of that old fire as his team tried to keep their season alive. As the game wore on however McDaniels seemed to retreat more and more into his shell on the sidelines. It looked like someone had spiked coach’s Gatorade with prozac as McDaniels looked about as ambitious and energetic as a three toed sloth. What really made the Broncos fans howl however was McDaniels incredibly conservative play calling. When you are down by 30 points, it is time to roll the dice. McDaniels on several occasions decided to punt on 4th down, rather than find those dice and throw them with caution to the wind like wedding confetti on a windy day.
Punting on 4th down is usually a wise choice, but when you are down by such a big margin it is the equivalent of standing on 12 against a dealer’s 10 in blackjack. The game was well and truly over and even trying anything could seem like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, but surely the fans deserve to see their coach at least giving it a shot. Exactly why McDaniels decided to close the shutters and play out the game with all the intensity and excitement of a man serving his sentence on death row is well and truly beyond this observer.
Broncos fans can take some comfort from the fact that McDaniels days are numbered in Denver. Until that day they will simply have to endure the Titantic that the Broncos season has become, with a coach who promised so much but has now become too scared to sail the stormy seas.
POSTSCRIPT: Since the time of writing this article McDaniels has been faced with one of his assistant coaches being caught spying on and recording an opposing team. In worse developments for McDaniels only today the Denver Broncos lost at home to the previously woeful St Louis Rams – it can’t be long until there is an axe being wielded in Denver…