It might not be a coincidence that Josh McDaniels started receiving head coaching offers again recently.
McDaniels’ two seasons as the Denver Broncos’ head coach are mostly looked at as a joke, but the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator helped build this season’s dominant Broncos, who are set to take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, through the draft and free agency.
Six Broncos players remain from McDaniels’ 2009 and 2010 draft classes. Overall, the Broncos have 10 players on their roster whom McDaniels drafted or signed during his limited time in Denver. They aren’t just bit, role players, either. McDaniels drafted the Broncos’ starting running back, two starting wide receivers and starting left guard, and he signed their starting left tackle and punter.
Take a look at the players McDaniels brought in below.
RB Knowshon Moreno (2009, Round 1, Pick 12): 241 rushing attempts, 1,038 yards, 10 touchdowns, 60 catches, 548 yards, three touchdowns
DE Robert Ayers (2009, Round 1, Pick 18): 29 tackles, 5.5 sacks, forced fumble
FS David Bruton (2009, Round 4, Pick 114): 23 tackles
P Britton Colquitt (2009 free agent): 65 punts, 2,893 yards, 44.5 average, 38.8 net average
WR Demaryius Thomas (2010, Round 1, Pick 22): 92 catches, 1,430 yards, 14 touchdowns
OG Zane Beadles (2010, Round 2, Pick 45): 16 starts at left guard
WR Eric Decker (2010, Round 3, Pick 87): 87 catches, 1,288 yards, 11 touchdowns
DT Kevin Vickerson (2010, free agent): 22 tackles, sack
OT Chris Clark (2010, free agent): 14 starts at left tackle
DT Mitch Unrein (2010, free agent): 20 tackles
It would be remiss not to also mention some of the errors McDaniels made during his time with the Broncos, though. McDaniels immediately traded Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears and started Kyle Orton in 2009 before drafting Tim Tebow in 2010. McDaniels also traded Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins in 2010.
McDaniels’ time in Denver looks a lot better today than it did then, when he led the team to an 11-17 record. Obviously a lot of the Broncos’ current success is thanks to the player under center — Peyton Manning — who, for better or worse, probably wouldn’t be playing for Denver if McDaniels hadn’t ditched Cutler and brought in Tebow.
Broncos head coach John Fox deserves the bulk of the credit for taking the Broncos to the Super Bowl, but McDaniels’ contributions shouldn’t be forgotten. And they won’t be by organizations around the NFL.
Hopefully McDaniels had some say in drafting Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce for the Patriots last April. He appears to have a knack for finding starting talent at wide receiver. Decker is a free agent this offseason. He would fit well with his former head coach’s new team in New England.