Josh McDaniels's father Thom stands over son's shoulder as Broncos lose to Chiefs: Pathetic

Update, 5:29 p.m.: According to 9News, the person identified as Thom McDaniels, now fired Broncos coach Josh McDaniels' father, during CBS' broadcast of the Broncos-Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday was not actuallyThom McDaniels. The station's Drew Soicher reports that the elder McDaniels was, in fact, at the game, but not "babysitting" McD as it appeared to viewers. Visually, however, the results were devastating, as is made plain in our original coverage below.

Original item, 7:31 a.m.: At this point, another humiliating Broncos defeat -- 10-6 to the Kansas City Chiefs -- hardly qualifies as unexpected. But somehow, embattled Coach Josh McDaniels still manages to surprise with his poor decision-making and PR tone-deafness -- and he did so again on Sunday.

How? By having his father, Thom McDaniels, Josh's high school coach from Ohio, stand over his shoulder during the game.

What's so bad about that? No doubt his father simply wanted to show the sort of unqualified support for his progeny that's been in short supply lately -- a totally understandable, and laudable, parental instinct -- and you can bet his son was grateful for it. But obviously neither McDaniels nor anyone in the Broncos organization thought through the message that would be sent by TV images of the elder McDaniels standing cross-armed as Coach McD skittered about, covering his mouth with a clipboard.

Among the primary complaints about Josh is that he's young and callow -- and what better way to reinforce that impression than to make it appear that in times of duress, he runs to daddy?

In each shot, Joshy-poo looked less in control, more out of his depth, like a kid sitting behind papa's desk on Take Your Children to Work Day during an actual office crisis. Plus, the playing-for-his-old-man back-story between the two can't help recalling fired CU coach Dan Hawkins's decision to install his son Cody as Buffs quarterback -- a reference that does the opposite of helping McD right now.

Of course, Thom's presence on the sideline wouldn't have stood out so awkwardly had the Broncos managed to win the game -- and the Chiefs certainly gave them every opportunity to do so. The early third quarter red-zone possession that imploded thanks largely to a penalty and subsequent meltdown by lineman Barry Richardson and an ill-advised decision to try for a TD on fourth down is only the most obvious example. Yet the Broncos repeatedly managed not to capitalize.

The Chiefs defensive game plan -- stop the passing game -- couldn't have been simpler. But while this focus allowed Knowshon Moreno to have his best game as a Bronco, Denver's offense wasn't balanced enough to capitalize with a single touchdown, and Kyle Orton was a big reason why. He played as badly as he did during the second half of last season, looking rattled and jumpy even on plays when he wasn't on the verge of being pounded into the turf. As time wound down, he repeatedly underthrew open receivers, embarrassing himself and providing fuel for the put-in-Tim-Tebow types.

In all likelihood, Josh McDaniels will resist this pressure, because it would be interpreted as him surrendering on the season -- which was already rendered pointless by the Broncos' mathematical elimination from the playoffs, but you get the point. Even if he caves, however, the odds that he will still have his current gig in 2011 continue to shrink.

The good news? If McDaniels gets fired, you can bet his dad will be behind him all the way.

More from our Sports archive: "Top 10 ways Josh McDaniels has destroyed the Denver Broncos."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts