McDaniels drops the ball in Denver

Can someone tell Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels’ that Week 17 is not the time to come unraveled at the seams, to take power trips and to try and send messages?

Hey coach, this is the pros.

I know he is technically still a rookie head coach in the NFL, but from my experience, the last thing you want to do as the head man on an NFL sideline is to lose a team—just days before they could very well be packing up their lockers to head home for three months.

Not to mention the game this week—the one the Broncos have to win if they want any shot at the postseason. I understand that the game plan is already installed, and I understand that today consists of nothing more than a jog-through practice in shorts and baseball caps, but this football team in now looking at McDaniels for answers.

Because, they want a leader.

And, to be honest, I was on the McDaniels’ train all season. The way he took care of the Marshall situation in training camp, the 6-0 start, the post-game celebration after the Broncos beat Belichick and the Patriots. Plus, we can’t forget that Marshall, who is at the center of this newest drama along with TE Tony Scheffler, started producing numbers—big numbers.

But after that hot start, the Broncos have gone 2-7, the defense has become a shell of what it was, the running game in McDaniels system has evaporated and those close wins have turned into close losses.

This Broncos team hasn’t improved over the course of a season. Instead, they have regressed and, well, that is what losing does at this level. The wheels begin to come off that train that I was riding, and this week, what has McDaniels done to keep this team going forward? Call out his offensive line? Bench players? Basically, rookie mistakes by a rookie head coach.

I know I use a lot of what I saw in my own writing to bring you some perspective, and looking at this situation in Denver, I begin to think back to coaches. And, in saying that, I think of Joe Gibbs in Washington, who worked under Dan Snyder—where drama is always persistent—yet our teams never felt like our head coach was throwing us under the bus. We played bad? Coach Gibbs would take the heat himself, but the blame on things he had to do better. An issue with a player during a playoff stretch—which happened more than once—he took care of it. Brought the player into his office and put an end to the story.

Public bashing by the head coach? With Joe Gibbs? Are you kidding me? No chance, because he knew when our team was at a fragile point and he knew how to handle it. Keep it in house, and work with the players that have issues. Come to an agreement, or at least come to a mid-way point, which would benefit the team, the player and the coach.

I understand that we are hearing two sides of a story in Denver right now, which can cause some outlandish speculation. That’s fine and that’s understandable. But, to question Marshall’s accountability when he is the one player that has produced over the course of the season comes off as a little far fetched in my mind. I even wrote about—weeks ago—that Marshall had done what it takes on the field to get that big contract in his hands this spring. But, once again we are back in the same place this all started. Player vs. coach in front of a national audience. Sure, Marshall will deserve some of the blame here, but it is the job of the head coach to come to an understanding in this situation.

And now, there will be more speculation, more questioning towards the best player on that Broncos team. Is his injury serious? Is he packing it in? Come on, Marshall has done what McDaniels has asked since the suspension in August.

But, for as many bouquets as we threw at McDaniels’ earlier in the season (myself included) this has now turned into a mess on the eve of the final game of the season. A game the Broncos must get to have any chance of sneaking back into the playoffs.

Accountability? Works both ways, between player and coach at this level.

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