In his blog "Broncos Country is Not Happy About Josh McDaniels. Broncos Country is Wrong," Westword's Joe Tone suggests that everyone in the state of Colorado is up in arms about the selection of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to replace Mike Shanahan as the Denver Broncos' new head coach. But that's not how coverage of McDaniels's introductory press conference and its aftermath has played out over the past day or so. Indeed, most of the mainstream media's reports to date have been almost embarrassingly positive.
Questions about the Broncos' defense are uppermost in the minds of many fans, including mine; for details, see my January 12 blog "Offensive Expert Josh McDaniels as New Broncos Coach? WTF?" But at the aforementioned meet-and-greet, it took the reporters on hand over ten minutes to even raise the subject -- and they allowed McDaniels to swat it away like a lazy softball. Prior to that, they focused on McDaniels's youth -- a red herring that his gravitas at the session further undermined -- and misty stories about him growing up in Canton, Ohio in the shadow of the Football Hall of Fame.
Later that evening, Channel 31 led its newscast with the McDaniels story, underscoring an introduction and the main package with the sort of triumphal music usually reserved for scenes in Biblical epics that show Jesus working miracles. The main McDaniels stories in the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post weren't exactly hard-hitting, either -- and even previously dubious columnists such as Woody Paige and Dave Krieger pretty much left their reservations on the shelf for the day.
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The Post's Mark Kiszla was more curmudgeonly, noting that the Broncos coach sits on a very hot seat. Still, the best piece in the Post was Jim Armstrong's "Defense Just One Priority on Coach's To-Do List," which actually addressed the elephant in the room head on. The offering quoes ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth -- a former Broncos offensive lineman and past Westword profile subject -- who said this about the McDaniels selection:
"I'm kind of befuddled... My first thought is offense really isn't the issue -- defense is. I felt like there were a lot of quality defensive coaches out there who could have been better-qualified head coaches. Of the four teams in the playoffs, Pittsburgh has the No. 1 defense, Baltimore has the No. 2 defense and Philly has the No. 3 defense. You think there's any correlation there?"
Well said. The Broncos can win championships without the best defense in the league, as its late '90s Super Bowls demonstrated -- but the D must be infinitely better to allow the offense to be all that it can be. I join my colleague Joe Tone in hoping McDaniels can make this happen even as he boosts an already strong offense. Then again, Tone's touting of McDaniels may be part of an elaborate scheme on his part. After all, Joe is from Cleveland...