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Published on 09/08/2009 at Tue Sep 08 02:03.
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McDaniels is regarded as the next greatest thing in the NFL, but can he live up to the hype? (Reuters/Nathan W. Armes)

McDaniels is regarded as the next greatest thing in the NFL, but can he live up to the hype? (Reuters/Nathan W. Armes)

When in doubt regarding the purchase of a supposedly authentic piece of art, one is forced to ask questions regarding the piece’s provenance… Who has owned the piece before, where did it come from, can we trace it all the way back to the originator? Is there a piece missing, is it a sham? An authentic? Is the former owner reputable, is the current owner reputable? This exploration is called the ‘provenance’ of a piece.


The National Football League, modern era– only winning is tolerated, and football is perennially at the top of the ratings game. Is there anywhere else that these corporations in the US and overseas are willing to pay two to four-million dollars for thirty seconds of commercial time? Not specifically, no. So where do we get off as fans accepting anything less? In Denver specifically, Mike Shanahan’s time had passed, so here’s what the Denver Broncos’ Pat Bowlen did, he brought in the new Shanahan. This new guy? Yeah, his job is to win now, the quarterback under the Shanahan regime wasn’t as concerned with winning as he was about an offense’s reputation. So the regime in Denver made an example of him and gave a giant Mile High Salute on his way out.

So, we’re left with tens of thousands of Bronco fans wandering the earth, begging, nay- wishing they still had that orange tinted blindness. Those colored glasses had shattered simultaneously as that franchise quarterback was traded for two firsts, a third and a no-name former fourth rounder from Purdue.

I’d penned then and I let everyone know that I’d gotten my lasik earlier this off-season. I am high as ever and I’m not planning on coming down. When current Broncos General Manager Brian Xanders and Shanahan’s replacement Josh McDaniels gave up the Bronc’s first round in 2010 for Alphonso Smith in the second round, they were making the boldest of statements, ‘It’s now or never Denver town…’ Three months later Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King would choose the Chicago Bears (whose pick Denver had retained in 2010 and had traded Cutler to) to go to the Super Bowl. Yet, in my gut I have a feeling after this season the price of McDaniels’ rookie card isn’t coming down.

There has been constant talk of the Bill Belichick tree and how unsuccessful the offspring has been consistently. With the exception of one who went to the college level, none of Belichick’s offspring have been from the offensive side of things. Yes, there is no denying that Belichick is a mastermind, hell even McDaniels has been reminded several times this off-season (remember my Chin Check article?). Can a student ever surpass the teacher? Do you remember when Shanahan beat Dan Reeves in the Super Bowl?

“There are things we will do that other teams have never done,” McDaniels stated prior to training camp. That quote has stuck in my mind since I first heard it. Why? Because this is a man responsible for not only Tom Brady throwing for more touchdowns in one season than any other quarterback in history, but also was at the offensive helms for the only team to ever go 16-0 in the regular season (or 18-0, if you want to be a wise guy and include playoffs). A man with all of that provenance, a man who led a no-name quarterback in Matt Cassel to a 11-5 record last season is now stating that here in Denver the Broncos will do things that have never been done. Before. In history.

You can already see it, amongst the Brady accolades I listed above, he also holds the highest ever completion percentage for a single game (26/28, 92.6%). Now with all of the horrible things that you can say about Cutler’s replacement Kyle Orton, you can’t deny that he completes passes (he just had one preseason game where three of them were to another team)… We’re already starting to see McDaniels bloody hand prints molding this offense.

“All I can tell you is I’ve never been a part of a losing season in my life — not when I started playing in the seventh grade, not in high school, not in college, not at Michigan State, not in all my years in New England. I don’t want to put a cap on what we’re going to do,” Got it yet? I’m guessing no. The man doesn’t know how to lose, it doesn’t make sense to him… Why lose when winning is so easy?

It's the questions and McDaniels has them for Rick Dennison. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It's the questions and McDaniels has them for Rick Dennison. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Yeah, Denver could have had Steve Spagnuolo and you know what? Our defense would have been better probably, we’d probably even still have Cutler and Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Bates, but would we have been better off? Do you think that the St. Louis Rams (or the Southern California Trojans for that matter) are any better off this season? Bowlen tries to do it right the first time and last time he had a defensive coach at the helms he got burned bad. Mr. Bowlen understands that defense doesn’t win championships, incredible offenses do. Look at the Indianapolis Colts.

It takes one to know one and McDaniels has got it bad, I promise you, that in the time that it’s taken you to read this essay he’s accomplished more than you will in your entire week.

“You can’t judge teams on the basis of last year. Schedule strength is a hoax. Coaches, players, owners change. There are so many variables,” McDaniels uttered to the Denver Post’s Woody Paige. You want my take? No one’s going to, no one is giving the Broncos credit, never mind that with Cutler as the starter at quarterback the Broncos went 8-8 and 7-9, matter of fact Paige himself predicted 4-12 this season… Well you know what? Paige is a dick and so are you if you think that this year will not be the Broncos best season in the last three seasons.

Signing McDaniels as the head coach in Denver may very well have been Bowlen’s best decision ever as the owner of the Broncos, his parting shot, his swan song. The similarities to Shanahan are scary- groomed under the greatest head coach currently coaching, an offensive mastermind and noted as being too young to take on a head coaching job. Yet when Shanahan was hired Bronco fans had suffered a season with Wade Phillips as the head coach, so they were aching for Shanahan. Only this time Bowlen didn’t need to hire Spanuolo first to prove that he needed McDaniels instead.

I look forward to this Sunday and every Sunday/Monday/Thursday afterwords, because in this league you just need to realize that every man in this room is one play away from replacing you. However my favorite expatriate has at least at least a  little while before those words are going to be prevalent. Nation? Support!

  • Tom9798

    Ian . . . I’ve said we’d go 11-5 for months and shock the teams that will be heavily favored to beat us . . . I am going to stick to that from what I’ve seen of our defense . . . . although I would have wanted Orakpo in a Bronco’s uniform . . . .

    I wanted an offense that could score 31 points/game . . . . but as my old defensive coach always told me . . . if the other team can’t score . . . the worst you will do is go 0-0 . . . .

    As linebacker Tom Jackson said in the old day’s . . if we hold the other team to 17 pionts or less . . . we should win . . . .

    we’ll see . . . . .

  • Glen S.

    You are out of your mind…seriously. What did Pat Bowlen give you to write this article??

  • coskibum

    Wow I hope you’re right when you say that this will be the “Broncos best season in the last three seasons”.

    I guess if not, you’ll be the first one to call yourself a “DICK”…

    Just because you don’t agree with someone, doesn’t make them or you a “Dick”…

  • Garrett Barnes

    I love the positivity in the article no doubt! Not sure if I agree totally with it though. Pat Bowlens best decision ever? Come on. Shanahan has won two Super Bowls. McDaniels hasn’t even coached a real game. Let’s wait a while before we go off saying that. I hope you are right though. I hope you are right…

  • Nick B

    I agree with most of what said. A lot of people (some of them NFL teams) will be surprised by this team.

  • Isaiah Kyler

    McD’s resume is impressive … I look forward to seeing what this kid is going to do in the years to come!

  • (dee)


    Love the post… after looking at the schedule as well I thought we could go 10-6 so I agree with you that we’ll do better this year.

  • BLF

    I agree with most of what u said.
    But i think that we will have an 8-8 record again due to difficulty of oponents.
    still with all the new players and systems its an achievement.

  • Kurt

    A great O does not necessarly win more games. It just sells more tickets and makes more money…..

  • T-Money

    Agreed. Enough said

  • SanDiegoBronco55

    dude why do you guys have to write articles like this? It gets me so pumped up for the season, that I just dont care about doing homework or anything with my life. Loved the article and I also think we’re going to sneak up on teams this year, and prove all the ESPNers including our very own, Schlereth, that we will be better than the mediocrity we have produced the last three years. With a hopefully healthy Knowshon and high completion percentage by any quarterback (Brandstater would be sick, and get us some, actually, good publicity, for the first time in 3 years also…) and then our attacking defense, with ballhawking DBs like Bailey, Alphonso, and Dawkins…Dude, come on! can Sunday get here any faster!

  • JM

    “a man who led a no-name quarterback in Matt Cassel to a 12-4 record last season”
    Pats were 11-5 last year
    “had suffered a season with Wade Phillips as the head coach, so they were aching for Shanahan.”
    Wade was here in Denver for 2 seasons 1993 and 1994.

    Good article. I agree completely. People are so quick to panic with this team and all the changes, however, I think people will be pleased with the progress this team will make this year.

  • Paul

    Wow….nice but raw!
    It takes one to know one and McDaniels has got it bad, I promise you, that in the time that it’s taken you to read this essay he’s accomplished more than you will in your entire week.

    What is the deal with that? Ian did you lose a bet recently or come into some money? Mcdaniels is nowhere close to Bowlen’s best decision!

  • Danh

    EPIC POST!!!!!

  • KMA

    Whether 8-8, 12-4, or 3-13 it should be a real interesting season due to all the question marks. I am thinking about 10-6 ought to fit about right. McDaniels does not continue to make “popular” choices. But, I think he is making the right choices.
    Go Broncos!!!

  • Ian Henson

    JM- You’re completely right, I fixed it in the post. I’m sorry, we just fired our fact checker at BT.

    EVERYONE- Thank you so much for the love, it’s not often that a blogger is thanked or well received, so it warms my heart to know that you guys appreciate it.

    Can’t wait for Sunday!

  • MeOMy

    I posted earlier this summer that I thought this was going to be a better team this year. The D will be much better this year and while our QB isn’t better I think our system will be. Nice to see people not down on the Broncos this year!

  • olen

    It would be scary if we all agreed . In most football games it is the percieved battle that takes place on the football field that makes us appreciate the game . Maybe it is our own animosity toward our jobs or the old Roman Colesium thing etc,etc that gets us going . Cheer for your team because here we are for the season right or wrong . Open the chute and hang on . The general has his troops in place .

  • Robert

    Great post. I don’t agree that great offenses win games. You have to be great on both sides of the ball. The year Indy won their defense which struggled all season put the smack down in the playoffs. Their offense was basically non-existent for 2 games. The Colts have also absolutely sucked in the playoffs for the last 10 years besides the SB year. The Giants won with a defense that was more dominating than the offense. The patriots won 3 superbowls with a defense that was more dominating than the offense than lost the superbowl when they had a better offense than defense. Baltimore won with no offense what so ever. Really the last great offensive team without a strong defense to win a Superbowl was the Rams and there D was still in the top 15.

  • Robert

    Meant to say “win superbowls” not “games”

  • pearlyjams

    i keep having these types “crazy talk” conversations with my friends and anyone who will listen. Our broncos have as good of a chance as anyone else going into the season. I am glad to see a post here that looks beyond the regurgitated mess we see and hear from the major networks, including the NFL network. There is more than one way to build a championship team. Bowlen is the best owner in the NFL, i trust him to make the right decisions, and first and formost, with McD. We are going to good, and soon. Go Broncos!

  • Jarrod

    Wow! Nice bit of writing!

    I don’t agree with you that great offenses win championships, though. Just look at the four teams in the conference championships last year. Three of them (Arizona being the odd one out) were in the top four defenses in the NFL. That’s not coincedence. And Pittsburgh, who won the whole thing, had the best.

  • AtomicLeo

    Well you know what? Paige is a dick and so are you if you think that this year will not be the Broncos best season in the last three seasons.

    I stopped reading the posts on Mile High Report because I couldn’t stand the lack of objectivity and the venom spewed out on any poster who dared to disagree with 13-3 crowd. I don’t agree with every poster here, but until this post it was pretty respectful.

    I hope you enjoy eating a big plate of crow in the middle of October, jerk.

  • Horvil Tiki

    Woodinald paige always wrong/ He say clady was foul and we should not get moreno. come on guy. Then he say 4 and 12. He always wrong so maybe this good thing. Maybe even he know this and try to help team. I try to ask question on he thing and he never answer. I try to get autograph of bronco player from and he never do this too. cause I know he can do this. he have this forum thing on denver post and he never go to. woody paige is corny guy./

  • anthony33

    Love your optimism and passion. I think you’re nuts, but love it.

    Thinking anything more than 7 wins based on what I have seen to this point would be a bonus. Defense and special teams will be much improved, but have absolutely no idea what to expect from this offense. The good news is I don’t think Ciny does either.

    I do believe that while the record won’t indicate such, this will be a much better overall, hard nosed and disciplined team.

    I hope you are right and I am wrong (on the record that is).

  • Steeplebomb

    The MSM echo chamber really is ridiculous. Last season the Broncos missed the playoffs due to an epic meltdown and ended the season 8-8. San Diego made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth (and a whole lot of luck) and finished the season 8-8. This year, ESPN has my Broncos ranked 27th behind the Browns, Bucs, and Jets. San Diego’s rank? fricken 5th in front of the Colts, Titans, and Vikings. Child Please.

  • Waylon

    Great post Ian! I can’t wait to see McDaniels and the Broncos silence the doubters this season.

    (And… just for the record, I fall squarely in the “Woody is a dick” camp. Sounds like I’m in good company.)

    Go Broncos!

  • Ian Henson

    HORVIL! Haha, nice man… I knew you’d come through. I was at training camp years ago, like maybe 15 and Horvil went to get Woody Paige’s autograph and the dude waved him off! I support the hate.

    Anyway, thank you everyone for your continued accolades. I will step it up this season and write more like this than I have been.

    AtomicLeo- While calling Paige a dick may have been a bit harsh, I disagree with him and as our friend Horvil pointed out he’s wrong more often than not and in a MAJOR way. The article is my opinion, not homerism. I’ve known this team for a long time, I called Brandon Marshall out before it was in vogue to do so, I can be objective, matter of fact I felt that’s what I was doing with this piece. I’m sorry if you felt this article didn’t meet your expectations. I grew up on crow and have come to find that it goes great with a blue moon and flava beans. Yet I’ve only had it once in the last five years.

  • Josh Temple

    First off, we are far off from all being kool-aid drinkers here. I think anyone of us will tell you that Ian is the most optimistic BT writer when it comes to the new regime in McDaniels. I’ve said all along if we can get out of this season with a 7-9 record with all of the changes I will be pleased and looking forward to the direction of this team. Anything above that will be icing on the cake. Sometimes I find Ian’s exuberance refreshing after hearing how terrible we’re going to be.

  • Kyle

    I don’t agree with all of his takes, but I loved this piece. Blew me away.

  • jchase8410

    the negative nancy group always bitches that people who are optimistic about this team. They claim they are treated unfairly…YET, any time I have read anything positive about the Broncos, they are the first ones attacking. being negative, AND living by a double standard? Come on man!