As the Broncos prepare for Patriots, a prelude to an apology
October 7, 2009 —
Yes Colorado, the Denver Broncos may be a viable NFL football team after all.
A quick Google search using the terms "Josh McDiapers" will display a blog called “Preparing for dismal Denver Broncos season.” And yes, I am the wordsmith who put together those stinging words of derision aimed, in particular, at Josh McDaniels and more indirectly at Pat Bowlen.
And now it’s time to eat a little crow – not just for me, but for all of us out there in the blogosphere who saw Denver’s offseason as a long series of torturous mistakes.
Now that Denver has come out of the gate 4-0, I want to issue a heartfelt apology to the Broncos’ true leader, the man who has lifted our team above the meanness and controversy, turned us around and straightened us out.
So here it is: I’m sorry, Mike Nolan.
Coach Nolan, I apologize for not seeing how important you were to our restructuring, nor how big of a difference your coaching and strategy would make.
I’m sorry for not seeing that your experience and steadiness would guide us through the turmoil caused by the firing of Mike Nolan, the dismissal of Jeremy Bates, the attempted drafting of Matt Cassel, the departure of Jay Cutler, a bizarre draft, the benching of our most talented offensive player, the overpaying of a long snapper, and more than one major locker room conflict.
As a long-time Mike Shanahan fan, I had forgotten that a strong defense can make up for offensive mistakes, that defense can win a game in the final minutes, that turnovers can give even the most impotent of offenses the chance to put touchdowns on the board.
I forgot that old saying: “defense wins championships.”
And I certainly had no idea our defense would even be in the running, let alone ranked atop the NFL in almost all categories after four weeks of NFL play. Denver’s defense is tops in points per game (6.5), total points (26), and second in total yards per game (238). The NFL sack leader is a man who once played lineman, who now plays linebacker in a completely new system: Elvis Dumervil.
Nolan and the defense deserve a world of credit. After all, McDaniels has said time and again in the press that the defense is not his concern, that he leaves it up to Nolan, and he doesn’t worry about it too much.
As for McDaniels, well...
In the past I have called for McDaniels metaphorical head, mangled the man’s name, and appointed myself “lead booer” for any and all mistakes the young man makes.
As my media-savvy friend Kristen Rust pointed out to me … I was probably just jealous. McDaniels is almost exactly my same age, knows his football very well, is slightly better looking (only slightly!!), and has one hell of a dream job. I, on the other hand, am an obscure blogger for a small mountain website, a washed up journalist working in the washed up media industry, with an audience only slightly more numerous than the Broncos’ south stands.
While that assessment is almost certainly accurate, it’s also the case that I’m not ready to let McDaniels off the hook quite yet.
Four wins looks a lot less impressive when you consider who we’ve played so far. Only one of the offenses we’ve played are ranked in the top 25 … and Dallas hardly has a powerhouse passing game. It’s true that Denver’s performance has been stellar, defensively, no matter who you’re up against, but even McDaniels has acknowledged that the team must play better, work harder, and most importantly, must be coached better.
I’ll say this about the young gun leading our team right now – he is learning fast. At first I took him to be a blow hard, a hardliner, a mall cop stuck in a wanna-be Belichick uniform. However he’s proven to be much more than that – a man who can learn on his feet, admit his mistakes, and chalk up one hell of an offensive play from time to time.
It’s a long season yet to come, and I’m not ready to jump on the McDaniels bandwagon quite yet. He’s got a tough schedule ahead, and a lot left to accomplish.
More importantly, he's a long way to go before we can say that dumping Cutler was a good idea ... or at the very least, that it didn't matter.
But, at 4-0, I think I can safely stop calling him McDiapers.
Good luck, Josh.
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