Tag Archives: Josh McDaniels

Why Tim Tebow won’t make it in the NFL

From Dave Fleming at ESPN

When the Broncos defense was on the field, offensive coaches would often tell Tebow the first series of plays they wanted to run when the team got the ball back. Tebow would nod, and they’d separate. And then, invariably, a short while later he’d ask for the information again. Sometimes this ritual would repeat right up until Tebow had to duck into the huddle and call the play. As a result, despite starting only 11 games in 2011, Tebow was flagged for delay of game an NFL-high seven times. Worse still was the fact that, according to scouts, Tebow almost never audibled because he struggled to quickly and properly read defenses. And of all the deadly sins Tebow committed against quarterbacking, this was the worst: lacking the self-awareness to recognize and fix these shortcomings. Maybe the most shocking part of Tebowmania isn’t that he has been cast out of the NFL after just three years but that he lasted as long as he did.

The weird part about reading this is that when Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow, all he talked about was Tebow’s football IQ.

In a meeting room at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and Tim Tebow sat several feet apart, engaged in animated, rapid-fire conversation about football. They clicked almost immediately.

McDaniels was convinced Tebow was genuine. He came away even more intrigued with Tebow as a player.

Tebow, an All-America quarterback at Florida and the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, felt he had found a kindred football spirit.

“I was jacked leaving that room. I didn’t even want to visit another room. It was not enough time,” Tebow said. “We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.”

The Dave Fleming has this.

But he scored a below-average (for QBs) 22 on his Wonderlic test. As a kinesthetic learner, Tebow absorbs information better through using flash cards and hands-on repetitive experience than the traditional method of memorizing diagrams, notes and Polaroids from a playbook. 

I have taken the Wonderlic (and done quite well on it).  it’s not that hard and if someone does poor on it, I would have some serious questions about their comprehension abilities.  That may not be that important if you are cornerback or a defensive tackle but if you are a QB and you have comprehension problems, it is big deal.

The disturbing question in all of this is why then did Josh McDaniels draft him?  It seems like they bonded personally and that made all of the other issues (like completing passes and reading offences) go away.  

The Weekend In Sports

First the positives:

The negatives

  • Sure it is good to see the Houston Texans get an offense but boy do the Pittsburgh Steelers look old.  It’s early and you don’t want to count the Steelers out but I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be a drastically different looking Steelers roster for next season.
  • Let’s not talk about what happened in Green Bay.  Denver is not a very talented team yet.  Shanahan’s last couple of drafts were horrible and the only decent player that McDaniel’s brought in was Eric Decker.  It’s going to be a while until they are back on top.
  • What can you say about the Saskatchewan Roughriders other than they are not a very good team.  Grandpa coming back gave them a spark but I have been saying since last season that just because Ken Miller was a good assistant coach, it doesn’t make him a good personnel man.  That and I have been terrified of Brendan Taman running the team ever since they brought him in.  Look at what he did to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and how long it took them to recover.
  • Dear Buffalo Bills.  You lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Really?  Rookie QB, lame duck coach, apathetic fans and you still lost to them.  You should be ashamed.

What went wrong in Denver

Michael Lombardi writes that ownership didn’t buy into McDaniels plan

When Belichick was hired in Cleveland, Modell had no idea what he had, or what Belichick could eventually become. He never thought in three dimensions, or hired with a plan; he just hoped for success, in large part because Modell based every decision on what the media and the fans thought. Modell had a wonderful heart. He wanted to make his fan base happy, therefore hiring Belichick after winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants was great, and firing him after the fans revolted was also great — never mind he just extended his contract.

Belichick’s success in New England was due to his experience in Cleveland — that Modell financed and Patriots owner Robert Kraft now enjoys. Any time a team hires a young coach or a young executive, one must think in a three-dimensional way. Does he have the aptitude to be a successful leader? Does he have the willingness to grow? Do we have the strength to handle the turbulent times?

Modell paid for Belichick’s education as a head coach, an education that has to be lived, not learned. There are no schools to attend to be a successful coach in the NFL. And just because an assistant works for a successful coach does not ensure success when it comes time for a promotion to the head coach’s chair.

When the Broncos hired McDaniels and turned over all the power to him, they had to understand there would likely be tough times. But did they?

As an outsider looking in, when the Broncos hired McDaniels, I thought they were willing to change the direction of their organization. Having spent a brief time volunteering my services as a consultant to Mike Shanahan, I saw firsthand Denver’s ridiculous spending on players, the failure to have a personnel department, and the constant approach to repair as opposed to rebuild. Therefore, when the Broncos fired Shanahan following the 2008 season and decided to change the course, eliminating the free-spending of the past, the move signaled to me that they wanted to try the Patriot Way, which centers on building a total team through the draft, cut spending in free agency and develop coaches and players from within.

Initially, it made sense to me, as most owners tend to hire the opposite of what they just fired. Firing McDaniels 28 games into his tenure as the head coach is bad for both parties. It wasn’t enough time for the team to be fully developed, or enough time for McDaniels to grow into the job.

And therein lies the problem — the Broncos wanted to change, but were not committed to change. Once they slipped into a different world, they longed to be back to their old ways of doing things. They really love the Bronco Way.

Never mind they have only won one playoff game in the last 12 years. Never mind they lack talent on the field, or are going to be paying three head coaches as a result of McDaniels’ firing. Never mind they might have to take two steps back to move forward. Clearly, this move means the Broncos long for their old days, and potentially bringing John Elway back into the organization signals how much they miss those days.

Tim Tebow Drafted by the Denver Broncos

Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos

So the Denver Broncos drafted the heir apparent to John Elway by drafting former Heisman winner Tim Tebow from the University of Florida Gators.  Tebow has been called the greatest college quarterback ever and is probably the most popular college player in recent years which means that he has his fair share of Tebow haters out there.

Here are my thoughts on the pick.

Tim Tebow Denver Broncos Jersey I can’t figure out how a guy that supposed to be drafted in the third round two weeks ago leaps to the first round.  Now I know Denver brought him in for a workout and I know that he probably could make “all of the throws” but Tebow comes from a college offense that isn’t well suited for the pros.  While he was a great college runner, his 4.74 speed won’t cause incredible fear in the pro game as he can be run down by most linebackers and some defensive ends.

In Florida he had very poor mechanics with a very elongated release that would cause serious problems in the NFL.  Of course in a couple of weeks he managed to make his release a lot more compact which won him a lot of praise for changing it so soon (and created some questions about Urban Meyers ability to coach a quarterback).  In Florida he tended to lock onto a receiver and rarely wet through multiple reads before tucking it and running.

His fans will say that he is a really hard worker on and off the field and let’s be honest, few NFL games he will be in will be more pressure packed than two BCS Championship games or his games versus Florida State (than again, those probably were more like practicing against Florida’s scout defense considering the state of FSU football right now).

I keep hearing that Josh McDaniels will essentially redshirt Tim Tebow in 2010, coach him, and let him compete for a backup role in 2011 with the idea that he can compete for the starting job in 2013.  This makes a lot of sense as it what Green Bay did with Aaron Rodgers and look how that turned out.  Unless of course you have and 8-8 team and just traded away your franchise quarterback last season, your franchise receiver and a really good pass catching tight end this season.  In other words, this makes a lot of sense if Andy Reid had done it, if Mike Shanahan had done it (even in Washington), if Bill Bilichick had done it but not so much when Josh McDaniels does it.  The Denver Broncos have a lot of immediate needs on both offense and defense than quarterback in the first round.  First round draft picks are supposed to start now, not in a couple of years.  You don’t reach in the first round unless your name is Al Davis.

The Denver Broncos better get off to a fast start and sustain it this year; otherwise the fans and media will start calling for Tebow to play before he is ready. That could be a disaster for everyone involved.

Brady Quinn

B_1 The Denver Broncos acquire Brady Quinn.

The Broncos acquired the former first-round draft pick from the Cleveland Browns for fullback Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012.

Not a good sign if you are Kyle Orton and want a new contract and as for Chris Simms, well it’s been nice to know you.  It will be interesting to see if Josh McDaniels opens up the starting QB job in training camp.  While Kyle Orton did a serviceable job in 2009, he didn’t exactly cause teams to fear his arm and rarely threw the ball downfield.  While Quinn was horrible in Cleveland, he didn’t have a lot to work with, didn’t have the support of the head coach but is familiar with the New England offense from his days at Notre Dame.  It should be interesting.

The best and worst NFL owners

Michael Silver has a great two part series over on Yahoo! Sports rating the NFL Owners from #32 to #1.  Here are the highlights.

Oakland Raider owner Al Davis

The Worst Owner if the NFL, no secret here.  Al Davis

Think hard: Since the Raiders were blown out in Super Bowl XXXVII by the Bucs (and then-coach Jon Gruden, whom Davis dealt to Tampa Bay after failing to offer him a market-value contract extension), has he or Matt Millen been worse at running a team? It’s a tough call, and that’s scary. Now, sources say, Davis once again has cash-flow issues. In a July interview with team play-by-play announcer Greg Papa of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Davis said he was scaling back on grandiose birthday-party plans because he didn’t want to flaunt his good fortune in a bad economy. “What a joke that was,” says another owner. “He has no money – he’s trying to sell another 10 percent of his team to raise working capital. That’s what that was about.”

If I was Michael Silver, I would just retired #32 for Al Davis.  After he gives up ownership of the Raiders, you don’t become the worst owner in the league, you are just labeled Al Davis.  As a Denver Broncos fan, I hope he keeps control of this team until he’s 140 and then pulls a Walt Disney and leaves instruction on who to draft from the grave.

This one hurts if you are Cincinnati Bengals fan where Mike Brown is rated the second worst owner in the game.

It’s hard to put Brown’s philosophy in its proper context, but here’s a loaded attempt: He’s the 21st century’s answer to a Communist Party bigwig in the Soviet Union’s heyday – gaming a system steeped in shared revenues for his own benefit while setting new standards among his peers for brazen laziness. Says one owner: “Anything that’s going to force him to do any extra work, he speaks out against it.” In recent months, Brown voiced opposition to the league’s moves to allow teams to cut sponsorship deals with state lotteries and hard-liquor providers and to sell advertising decals on practice jerseys. When Saints owner Tom Benson asked for a waiver on club-seat revenues to help fund improvements at the Superdome – part of an admirable transformation that has pushed him away from his usual spot at or near the bottom of these rankings – Brown was the lone Grinch in the meeting room. “It’s a great American story, Tom Benson defying the skeptics and keeping the Saints in New Orleans, and [expletive] Mike Brown speaks out against it,” the same owner says. “Meanwhile, the guy has the best stadium deal ever. It was completely built for him and he has no operating expenses. He probably makes more money than any of us.” Nonetheless, Brown repeatedly advocates for additional handouts from his larger-market peers via revenue-sharing and spends as little of it as he can get away with on employees.

He does get some credit for not changing the Bengals helmets.  I still think they are one of the greatest in pro sports.  Other than that, I’m not so sure.  The stories of the Brown family’s thriftiness is legendary (like being the only team in the league that doesn’t serve breakfast for players).

There is some good news.  Tom Benson has risen up a couple of spots to No. 22 for his efforts to keep the Saint’s in New Orleans.

Benson, who clearly had a wandering eye even before Hurricane Katrina hit, responded to the disaster by recasting his legacy. “It’s hard for me to say this, because I’ve seen him say and do so many stupid things, but Tom Benson has been terrific,” says one longtime critic among his peers. “When everyone assumed he’d use Katrina as an excuse to line his pockets, maybe he viewed it as an opportunity to prove people wrong.” Last week Louisiana lawmakers approved a deal with Benson that will keep the team in New Orleans through at least 2025 and initiate improvements to the Superdome which, blessedly, should put New Orleans back in the Super Bowl rotation.

Okay, Benson’s ranking is the only one I can’t agree with.  He is doing what the Bush administration could not do and this is make a tangible effort at rebuilding New Orleans.

This one hurts Denver Broncos fans everywhere.  Pat Bowlen has a really bad off-season and slips to #17.

After years of relative stability and smart, league-friendly stewardship, Bowlen had what seemed to be the owner’s equivalent of a midlife crisis this past winter after the Broncos blew a playoff berth with a late-season collapse. First Bowlen fired longtime coach Mike Shanahan and replaced him with then-32-year-old Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Bowlen then allowed McDaniels to hire another neophyte, Brian Xanders, as his handpicked general manager. To say the newbies had a rough start was an understatement. In April McDaniels tried to trade 26-year-old franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, lost the player’s trust and acted as though damage control was beneath him, creating an untenable situation that finally prompted Bowlen to deal Cutler to the Bears. After Cutler successfully pushed his way out of town by alienating the owner, star wideout Brandon Marshall attempted to do the same and was miffed when the strategy didn’t work. He’s currently under suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Talk about a Rocky Mountain Low. Through it all Bowlen has been wishy-washy and weak, admitting during the Cutler saga that he’s been having short-term memory lapses. (That might also explain why Marshall’s agent, in June, said Bowlen had told the receiver in a one-on-one meeting he’d deal him while McDaniels insisted the Broncos had no such plans.) Bottom line: I’m worried about Bowlen. He’s only 65, but he appears awfully confused about the direction of his team. Oh, and here’s the capper to a horrid offseason: When Bowlen fired Shanahan, his coach and de facto GM, he wasn’t aware that a league rule required him to post a deposit for the balance of the outgoing employee’s contract. “So he had to give the league $21 million in cash,” one owner says. “Surprise.” Ouch, babe.

And here is a season where Bowlen is reportedly taking a more hands on approach with his team.  Personally I think he fired Shanahan because he just couldn’t fix the defense and there were a lot of questionable coaching calls made over the last couple of years that cost not only games but playoff berths.  The other thing is that Shanahan spent Bowlen’s money like it was going out of style.  It’s fine if you are Jerry Jones and it is your own money but when it is the boss’s money, they tend to get a little tense and uptight at you blowing their millions on players who don’t work out year after year after year.

We all know the Kraft family is going to be number 1 but number 2 is Jerry Jones

But if I were a Cowboys fan, I’d get down on my knees and thank the football gods for sending Jerry and his family to North Texas, and none of you will ever convince me otherwise. Among his many recent accomplishments: Jones, as chairman of the NFL Network, joined forces with Goodell to settle a long-running dispute with Comcast after successfully demonstrating that customers would cancel their cable service if denied access to the channel. Said one rival owner: “You’ve got to give it up for Jerry. The stadium’s spectacular. Four words: Big vision, big testicles.”

Can’t wait until next year and if Silver is correct, Bowlen won’t remember that this list was even published in a week and Mike Brown may be too lazy to read it.

Comments?  Anything he missed?

Stay Classy Coach

Michael Silver has a great column on the lack of social skills shown by many in the Bill Belichick coaching tree.

It’s the latest testament to Mangini’s apparent lack of tact and people skills, personality traits he honed under his estranged mentor, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Like two other Belichick disciples, new Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and neophyte Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, Mangini has marked his arrival at a new organization this offseason by alienating established leaders while projecting a self-assuredness that borders on arrogance.

With three Super Bowl titles as a head coach and a prior record of success as a brainy defensive coordinator, Belichick, a future Hall of Famer, can get away with his power trip. Whether Mangini, Pioli and McDaniels are able to pull it off will depend upon how many football games their respective teams win, something that often depends upon the men in uniform buying into the program.

In the meantime, in Cleveland, Kansas City and Denver, the new guys in charge seem to be consumed with winning mind games, a strategy I’m not so sure will serve them well over the long haul.

In Denver, McDaniels’ sloppy handling of his interactions with Jay Cutler after an unsuccessful attempt to trade him at the start of free agency led to the loss of a franchise quarterback, largely because the 33-year-old coach was obsessed with demonstrating his unquestioned authority.

In K.C., Pioli’s arrival as the all-powerful general manager after years as Belichick’s right-hand personnel man was soon followed by a less-publicized incident involving a star player. According to Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock, perennial Pro Bowl guard and locker-room leader Brian Waters  asked to be traded or released after becoming offended by the arrogant attitudes of Pioli and his newly hired coach, Todd Haley.

Waters, a source told Whitlock, flew to Kansas City in February specifically to meet with the new GM and coach in an effort to become familiar with their leadership plans. The source said Pioli told Waters he had no interest in meeting and that Haley began a hallway conversation with the player by proclaiming that 22 guys off the street could win two games, as the Chiefs had in ’08.

Mangini, fresh off a 1-4 finish with the Jets that got him fired after three seasons – he had a 23-26 overall record (including a playoff loss) in New York – arrived in Cleveland with a similar swagger. One of his first moves was to orchestrate the firing of director of pro personnel T.J. McCreight, the highest-ranking personnel man remaining after Lerner’s dismissal of general manager Phil Savage, and one of the people who’d interviewed to replace Savage. (Mangini, hired while the GM job was still open, successfully lobbied Lerner to choose Ravens personnel executive George Kokinis.)

McCreight, a source said, was called into the office of team president Mike Keenan, who pulled out cell-phone records showing that McCreight had engaged in conversations with reporters – an act frowned upon by the paranoid Mangini. McCreight explained that speaking with the media was among the duties with which he’d been entrusted by Savage, but he was nonetheless terminated; he has since been hired as the Cardinals’ director of pro personnel.

I hate defending Bill Belichick but he has always treated players well.  Before he learned how to do this, he flamed out in Cleveland and left there with not many Christmas cards from the organization or the players.   It may work in the short term but players play for a coach they respect and who they think respects them.  Witness the success that Mike Smith had in Atlanta doing the exact opposite that the Belichick coaching tree is trying to do.  He respected the veterans, listened to their input, and when the going got tough, they believed in their coach.

Looking outside football, contrast this with how Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports treats people

In 25 years of racing in NASCAR’s top series, Hendrick has built a powerhouse organization of 500-plus employees who have a fierce loyalty to their boss. They love working for “Mr. H.” and put 100-percent effort into job performance. If the grass is possibly greener elsewhere, few ever bother finding out.

Steve Letarte started as a high schooler stocking the parts room and grew up to be Jeff Gordon’s crew chief. Gustafson came aboard in the chassis shop when he was 24 and was Busch’s crew chief six years later. Chad Knaus started as a tire changer on Gordon’s original “Rainbow Warriors” pit crew, left briefly for a bigger job elsewhere, then returned to build Jimmie Johnson’s three-time championship-winning team from scratch.

Even Tony Eury Jr. has come full cycle. He spent childhood summers sweeping floors and polishing cars at Hendrick with his grandfather, Robert Gee. When Earnhardt chose HMS in 2007 over every other team in the industry, Earnhardt used this example to demonstrate his affection for Hendrick: When Gee, one of the first employees at All-Star Racing (now Hendrick Motorsports) had aged well past his ability to perform as a fabricator, Hendrick let him continue to work.

He treats his employees as family – firing Casey Mears, a close friend of Hendrick’s late son, Ricky, was a gut-wrenching business decision – and goes out of his way to offer a helping hand.

Sidelined several weeks with a fast-spreading sinus infection that kept him away from the track, Hendrick returned for last week’s All-Star race on a scaled-back schedule. Thursday, he was still making his rounds at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, reconnecting with people he had not seen in several weeks. When an industry veteran updated Hendrick on an ailing family member, Hendrick said to him, “Tell me if there’s anything I can do to help.”

That kind of attention is what separates Hendrick from the other car owners. Of course Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress and Jack Roush have good employee relationships, but none have established the kind of companywide adoration that Hendrick receives from his race team, his automotive organization and virtually everyone inside the Cup garage, including his competition.

Who would you rather work for?

A New Era Starts in Denver

Charles Robinson writes in Yahoo! Sports about new coach Josh McDaniel and new QB Kyle Orton.

kyleorton1 “The distance you throw the ball down the field, to me at times it can be very overrated,” he said. “I’m worried about accuracy. I’m concerned with them reading the plays the right way, getting it to the people that need to have it on time. For the amount of times you throw the ball 60 yards in a season, I think that’s significantly overrated, unless you’re a team that’s going to throw 10 of those passes a game, which we’re not.”

McDaniels doesn’t say this in a cocky or naïve fashion – two labels that were tattooed on his forehead by some media during the Cutler fallout. Instead, he says it with a few core beliefs when it comes to Orton.

First, in four years in the league, Orton has been given the chance for realistic progress only twice: first as a rookie in 2005, and then again last season as Chicago’s primary starter. And both times, areas of his game became appreciably better. Second, Orton is still young (26), and McDaniels sees room for every area of his game to grow – be it mechanics, decision-making, defensive recognition and so on.

“We think we can make him better,” McDaniels says. “We think we can make him a really competitive, solid quarterback in our system. I’m never going to think otherwise. Everything can get better. He can improve in every area. If [a quarterback] ever stops believing he can get better at something, then he’s lost an edge.”

He says this with supreme confidence. He never lacks for that. It’s a byproduct of being the son of legendary Ohio high school coach Thom McDaniels, and then shimmying up the coaching ladder during his 20s under the tutelage of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.

He has stolen volumes of knowledge from all of them. Preparation and detail from his father, like knowing that when a player watches film, he should be just as concerned with everything going on in the picture as he is with the activity surrounding himself. Relentless work ethic from Saban, who expected almost scientific precision in practice and games. And the ability to mold and tie together all aspects of coaching, motivation and leadership from Belichick.

Pat Bowlen’s Letter to Fans

It can be summed up with, Jay Culter is lying to you about McDaniels and him not trying to contact him.

“Understand this: it remains about team,” Bowlen wrote. “Our franchise has gone to the Super Bowl six times, with three different coaches and with many different players. It has never been about one player, and it never will be. Coach McDaniels shares this vision, and everyone in the organization—players, coaches and staff—must understand and accept this unconditionally. If anyone does not, that person will not be a part of this franchise.”

Like I said before, that is an odd part of the equation.  I can understand not wanting to talk with McDaniels but I don’t know why Cutler ignored the calls from Bowlen.  For whatever reason, I think in the end, Cutler wasn’t strong enough emotionally to recover from having his coach and offensive coordinator fired and was going to take it out on whoever the new coach was and the owner.

What’s wrong with Jay Cutler?

Denver Broncos QB Jay Cutler

Shutdown Corner has a post on what is going on with the Denver Broncos and their Pro-Bowl Quarterback, Jay Cutler.  They quote Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback column. Quoth Peter:

I heard one other interesting thing Sunday: Cutler asked for a trade shortly after the Broncos lost offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates — Cutler’s confidant — to USC after the season. So maybe both sides need to go into marriage counseling here.

For the record, McDaniels says he never wanted to trade Cutler to begin with, though he’d have to say that, right? Again from the Denver Post:

"We’ve received trade calls on a number of players, which is not uncommon this time of the year. I also think the sensitivity of the other trade that was occurring, with my relationship with New England and the whole Cassel thing, I think that stirred the pot even more."

And then McDaniels made a point of emphasis: "We don’t want to trade Jay. We never did. He’s our quarterback. We’re excited about this season. And excited about what we’re doing here in free agency to improve our team."

Another possibility is that names get leaked all of the time to the media just to rattle team chemistry (see what Minnesota Vikings did last year with Brett Favre).  At the same time Cutler needs to make nice with McDaniels and prove to the new coach that he can be the man in Denver.  He needs to remember that despite his high powered offense, there were some games that the offense was not a factor in the game and he lost them one or two games by himself, games that may have saved Mike Shanahan his job.

Finally, Jay has to realize that pro football is a business.  It’s what players say all of the time when they want their contract renegotiated and it is what they say when it is free agency.  What they need to learn is that it is business from the teams point of view as well.  If the Broncos think that someone else can do the job better, they go with them.  It happened to fellow 2006 draft class QB’s Vince Young (who was a Pro Bowl QB as well) and Matt Leinart last season and it will happen to some other player who feels he is the “face of the franchise” this year.  It’s not just a business but a brutal one at that.