Call off the bloodhounds. It appears as if the search for a general manager was over before it even began.
At least you'll have a shiny new John Elway doll to distract you.
Enter Brian Xanders...stage bereft.
According to multiple reports, Pat Bowlen, Joe Ellis, and John Elway will make it their first order of business to give Xanders full control of personnel decisions next week. For an organization set to have one of its worst records in franchise history, this seems a little rash.
Right now the NFL is teeming with hungry and talented GM candidates, but the Broncos already have their inside man.
Within one week of ending the season?
If only the Rooney Rule applied to the search for a general manager. It would at least force the Broncos to interview candidates for the job.
Brian Xanders must be the luckiest man in the world. He survived the ruthless Mike Shanahan; he played the Laurel to Josh McDaniels' Hardy; now he's gonna be the guy in charge.
Although we've parodied Joe Ellis and Xanders here at Fat Man, we've got no axe to grind with Xanders. But is it too much to ask for an interview process regarding a job that will have as much if not more influence on what happens to the Broncos in the next decade than anything else?
Or do we just hand it to the good soldier?
According to Eric Goodman of Mile High Sports, Xanders was nothing more than a guy who bit his lip under McDaniels. In fact, we're led to believe the following:
- Xanders was never told of the Peyton Hillis trade by McDaniels before it happened.
- Xanders wanted to draft Clay Matthews, Jr. instead of Robert Ayers.
- Xanders did not want to trade for Laurence Maroney.
- Xanders didn't want to acquire Jarvis Green.
The article leaves out how Xanders felt about trading Alphonso Smith and where he came down on the Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Tony Scheffler trades. It also gives no mention on whether or not Xanders wanted to go in another direction from McDaniels on the Tebow, Demaryius Thomas, and Knowshon Moreno picks. It also leaves out reference to the Brandon Lloyd, Jamal Williams, and Justin Bannan pickups. In short, the piece focused on those decisions that, in retrospect, look poor. The piece ends:
Cleaning a health club isn’t the same as cleaning up the mess McDaniels left behind, but Xanders has the resolve, work ethic and experience to bring this once-proud franchise back to where it belongs.
If all of this is true, it paints an even graver picture of Josh McDaniels. Was he this bad? Was he really a boy-dictator, running around Dove Valley with his thumb over Xanders? These were the so-called parameters with which Xanders was working? Not telling the General Manager about a trade involving Peyton Hillis would seem to be a strange parameter indeed.
Ellis said during his Dec. 7 press conference that McDaniels sort of "ended up" with ultimate power. This portrait of Xanders seems to match that description of the situation. And yet, it makes it ever the more bizarre. Presumably, Ellis and Bowlen knew what was going on, or they wouldn't be down with this new promotion of Xanders (nor the firing of McDaniels for that matter). However, in two years with McDaniels as overlord, neither Bowlen nor Ellis nor Xanders stood up to challenge him. McDaniels must be one hell of an interviewer to be this villainous, yet have completely bowled over Ellis and Bowlen in over the course of a week.
Perhaps I've been spending too much time around Raiders fans, but I'm having a hard time figuring out if I'm supposed to view the Broncos' front office as spineless or heroic. On one hand (again, if this is all true), the Broncos' front office just purged themselves of one of the biggest Napoleon complexes that ever walked the ranks of NFL coaching. Sure, it took them two years, but they did it. On the other, no one in the organization had the juevos rancheros to challenge McDaniels for the entire duration he was head coach. Further, Xanders--who apparently disagreed with a whole slew of McDaniels' moves--had so little influence, he couldn't make a dent in the organization until McDaniels was ratted out and fired.
It's beginning to look like Bowlen and Ellis got themselves into a situation they couldn't control. But other than take charge, they spent about 18 months hoping King McDaniels would succeed despite ignoring everyone else in the building. Xanders spent that time breaking down tape in futility.
The other alternative, of course, is that you really can smell what the Ellis is cookin'. He has the PR machine going at warp speed so that the narrative of Xanders as misunderstood genius is fully functional in the minds of Broncos fans when they make an announcement next week. In this narrative, the Broncos are willing to pay eight coaches if necessary to "restore the integrity of the organization," but interviewing GM candidates is out of the question.
Sorry if the situation doesn't inspire confidence in Broncos fans.
Of course, we'll probably never know Xanders' true role. What we are getting now is a version that needs to correlate to his hiring by the Broncos, which is that of a guy who knows personnel with the best of them, but was simply crushed under the weight of Josh McDaniels' massive ego.
Xanders could be the next Ozzie Newsome. But shouldn't the Broncos interview some of the guys that work with Newsome himself, at least so they can compare candidates?
The narrative that is coming out of Dove Valley regarding Xanders doesn't leave them much middle ground. Xanders is either the ultimate good soldier and hidden genius--a rags to riches story out of the same vein of the movie Good Will Hunting. By day he was the guy who cleaned pools;by night, a savant buried under a mountain of game tapes. Or Xanders is another middle manager who took no chances, protected his job, and was ultimately left standing when the smoke cleared--the perfect courtier.
Let's hope nice guys finish first, and that Xanders is the virtuoso who just didn't want to rock the boat. If Xanders is not, then John Elway will still provide a pleasant distraction for fans who aren't paying attention. However, Elway might not make it to the 4th quarter to lead the Broncos back from defeat.
Feel free to give us your thoughts below.