As the NFL season comes to a close on Sunday; the coaching news heats up. Multiple reports are saying that the Cleveland Browns will clean house on Monday and that includes firing head coach, Pat Shurmur. The name that keeps popping up as a leading candidate for that job is former Denver Broncos head coach, Josh McDaniels. That name is like fingers on a chalkboard for most Broncos’ fans but it would be a good hire for the Browns and before all of the Broncos’ fans start calling me every name in the book; let me make my case.
The league is littered with successful coaches who were failures in their first job as a head coach; two names come immediately to mind. Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan were both fired in their initial jobs, but both have gone on to win multiple Super Bowls. There’s so much that is learned from that first experience, even if the win/loss record is not good. A head coach has to deal with the media, injuries, supervising the assistant coaches and so much more. McDaniels did not handle those duties well in Denver but he would be better prepared the second time around.
McDaniels was asked to do too much with the Broncos; he was hired as the head coach and then he was in charge of everything in terms of the football operations. Contrary to what many believe; McDaniels did not ask for those responsibilities, they were given to him. It is still my belief that if the Broncos had provided McDaniels with a stronger support system; he would have been more successful. Does that excuse some of the mistakes he made? Of course not but not everything that happened in that year and a half was his fault. McDaniels was thrown into the deep end by the Broncos and he simply wasn’t ready, and he responded by turning into a dictator. If the Browns hire a strong General Manager, then McDaniels can be a very good head coach.
The last and most important reason is the McDaniels has a very good football mind, especially on the offensive side of the ball. He has worked wonders with run of the mill quarterbacks; Matt Cassel had one good season and it was under McDaniels. He turned a backup quarterback, Kyle Orton, into a decent starting quarterback. McDaniels also knows how to call a game and how to put together an offensive game-plan that fits his talent. If the Browns are committed to Brandon Weeden, then McDaniels may be the perfect fit.
Does he need to improve in some areas? Yes he does and those areas include; allowing his assistants to coach, player relations and his sideline demeanor. However with his experience with the Broncos, my hunch is that he will be more prepared for all of those things. The number one thing McDaniels has to do whenever the next head coaching opportunity presents itself is be himself. It’s great that Belichick is his mentor, but Josh has to be Josh. He tried too hard to be like Belichick when he was in Denver and it didn’t work.
As a Broncos fan; I am happy where things are now and I am happy that John Fox is the coach, but McDaniels deserves another chance. When the New England Patriots hired Belichick, a lot of people snickered but no one is laughing now. McDaniels is probably not the next Belichick but he can be successful if he is surrounded with the right people.
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