I’m a total multitasker, and technology has made me worse. Twitter is one of my diversions at times, and I’d say I use it very sporadically, unlike a lot of people who use it all day. Today, I was relaxing in my bathroom, taking care of some things, you know how it is, and I fired up the old Tweetdeck on my iPhone 4 to let my mind have something to do. I happened across the following Tweet from my good pal Adam Schein.
There’s a link there, which we’ll get to in due course. First, a little about Brother Schein. He’s a radio guy, and he writes like one. His tone is confrontational and hyperbolic, his language is basic, the concepts he presents are often oversimplified, and not much attention is paid to evidence. It’s like reading a radio show. I’m way too nuanced to ever be a radio guy, so I shouldn’t and don’t knock their skills in that medium, I really just choose to listen, or not. It’s sort of like why you don’t see the GZA out freestyling on street-corners; his genius comes from somewhere different than random and basic in-the-moment emotional hollering.
Anyway, Schein works for Sirius, and I had an unexpectedly good customer service experience with them this morning, so he’s got that going for him. I also attended the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony with a guy named Matt (last name intentionally withheld, because I don’t know if he wants to be publicly known). Matt was an executive producer for Sirius Sports, and he was a really cool guy, who was from the same hometown as Schein, and took up for him, when I said that I thought Adam sucked. (Matt from Sirius is a friend of Matt_R who used to frequent MHR, if you know him.)
On Saturday, I battled it out on Twitter with a Sirius producer named Nick Kostos, who didn’t turn out to be such a bad guy, despite thinking that his powers of wild-ass speculation were greater than the NFL’s ability to investigate the Broncos’ recent video episode. And finally, Schein knows who I am, and has read this site. I’ve hit a lot of MSM people for saying stupid things over the years, and usually I just get grumpy/stupid Direct Messages on Twitter like these:
Yeah… she really told me. BOO-YAH!!!! Schein, though, openly tweeted me once to tell me he liked this site, which, while I didn’t really believe him, I appreciated. I mean, I slammed him violently the last time I wrote about him here. It’s easy to think that when your readership amounts to a few thousand Broncos fans, that the MSM guys you’re hitting don’t hear the tree fall in the woods. This experience has chastened me some, at least with Adam Schein, and has given me an idea. I m going to operate as if he’s not a bad guy, and as if his utter wrongness is just a function of a lack of knowledge and perspective. In other words, I’m going to try to educate him on the Denver Broncos, which I clearly know a lot better than he does. Sounds like fun, right?
For Adam, you’ll want to start here, which dropped last night, and you’ll be aware of my general thoughts about the state of the Broncos. Everybody else has already read it, so we’ll wait for you to catch up. It’s only about 2,000 words, and a segment of Bronco Nation is patient, with the bulk of that segment reading me and the guys at the excellent ItsAllOverFatMan.com.
OK… now that we’re all on the same page, here we go. I’m going to borrow the technique that they use at Kissing Suzy Kolber, and “augment” Adam’s article, like they do with Peter King. (Like giving it a pair of 36DDs.) Only, I’m not going to try to make Adam look bad, per se, I’m just going to try to fill in some knowledge and perspective gaps for him. I’m super busy with my MBA program, and I’m in the middle of a paper about implications on corporate culture in mergers and acquisitions, but again, I feel like the world needs this. Here goes… (Here’s the clean link to Schein’s article, if you feel like you need that).
I laugh when I hear someone say Josh McDaniels deserves to be fired by the Broncos because of “Spygate II,” because “rogue” videographer Steve Scarnecchia taped the Niners walk-through in London. This is one of the funniest takes I’ve ever heard. I crack up when I hear talking heads debating whether McDaniels knew about the taping. I double over in hysterics when I see debate on whether the fine was enough.
Good morning, great people of this planet. Spygate II means very little, other than firing McDaniels with cause and saving money.
OK, first thing, Adam? You don’t have magic powers of wild-ass speculation, and neither does your boy Kostos. You want to think that the NFL missed something in their investigation, and your mind tells you what “really” happened. Sorry… the only known version of the story is the one that the NFL announced, and like I told Kostos Saturday night, I’m in the evaluation of evidence business.
Also, how about we stop with the false equivalence inherent in adding -Gate to anything that’s remotely sordid. The Watergate cover-up was one of the worst moments in the history of the United States, with key leaders, up to and including President Nixon committing clear-cut crimes. This Broncos video episode was a self-reported incident from which no competitive advantage was gained, and which the NFL found was a one-time occurrence by one employee, without direction. I realize you’re not Mr -Gate, Adam, but I hope you can at least agree not to use the stupid term. When it’s used about stupid and inconsequential things, it softens the edges of Watergate, which is unfair to American history. Kthxbye.
McDaniels deserves to be fired for sheer incompetence, for awful people skills that have caused talent to leave the building, for some of the worst personnel decisions in the past two years, for losing games at a rapid rate.
This isn’t about whether McDaniels reported Scarnecchia in a timely fashion.
This is about McDaniels single-handedly ruining one of the best franchises in the NFL.
The Josh McDaniels era (actually, let’s go with the Josh McDaniels error) has been two years of slipping on a banana peel, showing he has no clue how to run an organization. It has been an absolute comedy of errors since he walked into the building.
Hello again! How much wrong can fit in one section? What talent left the building due to his people skills? Talent like this?
a. Jay Cutler – A petulant but talented jerk, who has continued to be that in Chicago, by all reports, and throws the ball to his opponents way too much, especially in the scoring area. Outperformed individually by his replacement Kyle Orton, without any question.
b. Brandon Marshall – An immature but talented player, who is one mistake from missing a big part of a season to a suspension. Outperformed individually by his replacement Brandon Lloyd, by an even wider margin than Orton-Cutler.
c. Tony Scheffler - A wildly overrated clown who was heard in the locker room saying that he couldn’t wait for last season to end, while the Broncos still had a shot at making the Playoffs. This was reported to Josh McDaniels by leaders among the players, and that’s what led to the suspension for the last game of last season. On the field, Scheffler fumbled, dropped passes, and missed blocks frequently, and he’s done nothing very noteworthy in Detroit.
We’ll get back to this issue momentarily.
Let’s remind everyone Denver owner Pat Bowlen canned Hall of Fame coach Mike Shanahan because of a late-season collapse in 2008, the inability to beat Buffalo and San Diego in the final weeks to make the playoffs. Shanahan refused to change his defensive coordinator (remember that), and Bowlen pulled the trigger on his longtime genius.
It’s worth jogging the mental Rolodex that this was not a rebuilding or retooling situation. The expectations were for McDaniels, part of the Bill Belichick tree, to get the Broncos into the playoffs in 2009. And McDaniels has failed, and failed to epic proportions.
This is absolutely wrong. This has been 100% a rebuilding situation, but the Broncos organization has erred by not making that clear. The 2008 Broncos team was a very bad football team. The defense was literally the worst I’ve ever seen. It was absolutely hopeless in every way. The offense moved the ball well, but committed too many turnovers, and didn’t score points when it had opportunities to do so. Football Outsiders’ pythagorean formula said the 2008 Broncos should have been a 4-12 team, and they were probably right. This is either bad memory, or revisionist history by Schein. It seems more like the latter, with all due respect, and even some which may be undue. He can show me where he ever said that either the 2009 or 2010 Broncos were playoff contenders, if he wants, but I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing it.
It all went horribly wrong right after McDaniels was hired. He ignored the fact that he employed the talented Jay Cutler and decided to inquire about obtaining Matt Cassel, a quarterback he worked with successfully in New England when Tom Brady was injured. It was a huge mistake. It showed McDaniels’ inexperience in being a head coach and executive. It showed he didn’t understand the inner workings of the media and how his inquiry would morph into a major breaking story.
As a result, Cutler never trusted McDaniels again, and it led the Broncos to trade their franchise quarterback, something they never planned on doing when the coach was hired. Go back to McDaniels’ first news conference. Read the early Bowlen commentary on what McDaniels and Cutler could do together. Players started looking sideways. Trust was broken.
Matt Cassel has produced on the field better than Cutler has, too. And let’s remember who ordered the divestiture of Mr. Cutler. It was Pat Bowlen himself, because he was furious at Cutler for ignoring calls and text messages. (Petulant jerk, remember?)
This is a theory of mine, but I’m pretty sure I’m on something close to the real story. Jay Cutler told the media that he was very upset with the firing of Shanahan, as you can see in this Rocky Mountain News article. (Remember them?) But it turns out that Cutler was actually told ahead of time, and didn’t squawk that much at first. Prior to selecting a replacement for Mike Shanahan, Bowlen said that he’d keep Cutler informed, and that “he’s the man around here.” Cutler told everybody who’d listen that he wanted the offensive staff to stay intact. Just read those articles, and consider if you think Cutler’s comments and attitude are appropriate.
Giving Cutler any input, and allowing his petulant comments to go un-addressed were errors by Bowlen, if he wanted to hire McDaniels, because in the McDaniels way of thinking, no player should ever be bigger than the team. A huge reason why the Belichick way works in New England is that Tom Brady accepts that he’s a player, and he never tries to insert himself into matters above his paygrade. As he noted recently, if he were consulted in personnel matters, Deion Branch and Lawyer Milloy never would have left.
I believe that Cutler’s comments to the media probably offended and troubled McDaniels, before he even was hired. They definitely set the stage for what could become an untenable coach-player relationship. Knowing that he would probably face a lot of resistance from Cutler vis-a-vis the new program, and wanting to use his own offensive scheme, I’m sure that inquiring about Cassel seemed like a good move. At the very least, it tells Cutler that he’s a player, and not “the man around here.”
Schein notes that McDaniels is part of the Belichick Tree, but that doesn’t mean that winning automatically and immediately happens. It means that he was raised in a way of thinking that is very particular as to the concept of a team. Schein, like the name-dropping douchebag Jay Glazer, and Miss “HILLIS HILLIS HILLIS LOL” is a player sympathizer and mouthpiece, because maintaining strong relationships with players is necessary to his job. I get that, and have no real problem with it, but it’s instructive. You have to take what they say with a grain of salt, because they clearly aren’t independent.
McDaniels’ relationships with Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler would eventually lead to these offensive weapons being traded the next offseason.
While Marshall was an off-the-field knucklehead, McDaniels never really took the time to try to make it work. And he seemingly had instant disdain for the pass-catching tight end Scheffler. And if boy wonder McDaniels thought he wasn’t a fit, then Scheffler, despite catching 49 balls in 2007 and 40 in 2008, wasn’t a fit.
McDaniels’ frosty personality and clumsy management style chased Cutler, Marshall and Scheffler. And this gets the headlines. But it represents just the tip of the iceberg for inept decisions and futility.
Here, we get some more thoughts from the players’ perspective. Who is Schein to say that McDaniels shouldn’t be able to scheme his offense how he sees fit, or that that offense should value soft non-blocking TEs with horrible attitudes, just because they’re on the roster?
How about spending a first-round draft pick last year on Robert Ayers, who was far from a sure thing? Ayers didn’t record a sack in his rookie season and has just 1.5 this season. There were better players, non-projects, on the board.
Schein fundamentally misunderstands the Broncos’ defensive scheme, and Ayers’ role in it. Schemes and technical football aren’t really Adam’s area of expertise, but luckily they’re mine. The Broncos run a Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 scheme. In that scheme, the 3 defensive linemen are asked to play 2 gaps each, and the 2 OLBs are asked to consistently set the edge in the running game. The 2 ILBs are kept clean to run to where the ball is, and make the bulk of the tackles. When Ayers has played this year, he has been outstanding at that job, as good as anybody in the NFL. As the Sam LB, that’s his number one purpose. He’s been pretty good as a pass rusher too, despite only having 1.5 sacks. He’s not speed rushing, like, say, Clay Matthews, who is a Will LB in a more LeBeau-style pressure scheme. Ayers played most of the Ravens game with a broken foot, and the Ravens ran the ball well in the second half. Against the Jets, 49ers, and Raiders, and Chargers, with Ayers out, the Broncos struggled against the run, not coincidentally. Sacks aren’t the only measure of quality in an OLB, Adam. I know you haven’t seen much Broncos football, and may not even know what “setting the edge” means, but trust me; Ayers is doing it really well, and it’s tremendously important in the Broncos’ scheme.
But even worse, during the same draft, McDaniels, in a move of both arrogance and ignorance, traded a 2010 first-round pick for the opportunity to draft Alphonso Smith in the second round. Now, we bashed this move when it was made. It was McDaniels’ first NFL draft, and he treated it like a kid dealing baseball cards. Did he learn anything about value, about the art of the deal from Belichick?
You don’t give away a future first-round pick for a second. And for Alphonso Smith! Smith couldn’t even see the field during his rookie year. He was totally lost. And he was so bad McDaniels was forced to trade him after one season to Detroit for non-factor tight end Dan Gronkowski. This represents a flat-out embarrassment. This represents having no clue how to run a team. This represents the lowest of lows in running a war room. Matt Millen knew better!
This is just bad logic. You DO give away a future first-round pick for a second, if you think you’re getting a player who is worthy of that first round pick. The rule of thumb for valuing future picks is that you set them to the middle of the round, one round later. It works sort of like the Time Value of Money, where a dollar next year is worth less than a dollar today. In other words, next year’s first round pick is appropriately valued as the middle pick in this year’s second round. The value difference comes from having the player now, rather than in the future, and in the cap era, also from the fact that your financial exposure on a high second rounder is less than a middle first rounder will be next year.
I’ve covered all this, in the past, and my regular readers know it, but I went through it for Adam. He should ask Gil Brandt next time they talk if what I’m saying makes sense. (It does.) As for the player in question, Alphonso Smith, I covered him in my Monday post that everybody’s read. He was well-regarded by many, including me, and he hasn’t worked out as expected. That happens to every team, where a player doesn’t play up to expectations, for whatever reason. Smith was the seventh best CB in the Broncos’ 2010 training camp, and they didn’t see the improvement they expected, so rather than hang on to him, they cut their losses, and shored up another position. Intelligent people don’t ride a sunk cost into more costs, if it isn’t productive. Divesting Smith was both courageous and correct, just like Raheem Morris canning both Jeff Jagodzinski and Jim Bates was. (He got killed by the idiot MSM for both moves, of course, and now they’re drinking a nice glass of STFU, and acting like they believed in Morris all along. I had Morris’s back on both moves in the moment, and I have been proven to be emphatically correct, like usual. Check my archive, if you want.)
But wait. It gets worse.
Peyton Hillis was a Mike Shanahan guy. Hillis, strong and versatile, played great for Shanahan in 2008, including a majestic performance the Sunday after Thanksgiving, barreling over and beating the favored Jets in New York. Hillis was a bit of a Shanahan sensation, playing running back, fullback, special teams, and once was quoted as saying he would play linebacker for Shanahan.
So, of course, McDaniels had no use for him and thus barely played him in 2009. So, of course, he traded Hillis to the Browns for a third-string quarterback, a first-round bust in Brady Quinn in March 2010. And because McDaniels never seems to have a plan, one month later, he drafted Tim Tebow, to help ensure that Quinn had no chance to ever play behind Kyle Orton and the former Florida star. Hillis has been one of the best running backs in the NFL this season in Cleveland. Once again, it shows ego, poor talent evaluation and no direction, no correlation between one move and the next.
I also talked about the Hillis-Quinn trade yesterday, but Adam’s comment there needs a rebuttal. The Broncos play a nickel offense almost all of the time, and they don’t use Fullbacks much. Their profile for RBs is that they need to be able to run,catch, and block equally well, because their scheme calls for them to do all three. Hillis is an atrocious blocker; the Browns know this, and rarely ever even ask him to do it. He also isn’t as fast as the Broncos would like a player in that position to be. Knowshon Moreno has been playing excellent football lately, and is a great fit for what the Broncos are trying to do in all three phases.
As for Hillis, he definitely had a couple good games for the Broncos as a rookie, but he was Shanahan’s 5th choice as the starting Tailback, behind Andre Hall, Selvin Young, Michael Pittman, and Ryan Torain. (Shanahan didn’t like him at FB, either, because of his blocking deficiencies. Spencer Larsen mostly started, as he does today for the Broncos.) Hillis was given a few opportunities by McDaniels early last season, and he got stuffed on some short yardage plays, and fumbled the football, notably on a kickoff return. I don’t remember Schein saying that Hillis was going to thrive like this in Cleveland, even though a lot of Broncos fans haven’t been terribly surprised. Any one of us who know what we’re looking at would tell you that he’s good at running and catching the ball, but he’s a bad blocker, and he fumbles too much. That’s exactly what he’s been and done in Cleveland. The Broncos didn’t have Hillis wrong; they just wanted to go in a different direction.
And, as a side-note, let’s forget this stupid narrative that McDaniels somehow hated all Shanahan players, okay? It just doesn’t hold any water at all. Or, maybe Larsen, Eddie Royal, Daniel Graham, Chris Kuper, Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, Elvis Dumervil, D.J. Williams, Wesley Woodyard, Champ Bailey, and Matt Prater don’t count. That’s also known as every single worthwhile player who was on the 2008 Broncos, who was willing to accept the ways of the new program, as their contracts required them to do. (Hillis seemed not to openly buck against the program like Cutler, Marshall, and Scheffler, although there have been reports of him not practicing at the high tempo desired by this staff.)
McDaniels has had strained relationships with players and coaches. How do you let Mike Nolan leave the building? How do you clash with the only great hire you made to your original staff? Wasn’t the defensive coordinator the big issue for Shanahan and Bowlen? Nolan is well-respected around the league. He was attracted to the McDaniels situation because they have the same agent. As a control freak, McDaniels wasn’t the boss Nolan expected. McDaniels reportedly had an issue with Nolan’s play-calling last season and took issue with the strategy. And thus, the head coach let his best asset go.
Nolan is a good defensive coordinator, but he blitzed more than McDaniels wanted to. It’s always in the purview of the Head Coach to set the overall team strategy, and McDaniels comes from a philosophy of being sound against the run, and balanced on the back end, while favoring ball skills in their DBs. The other part of the story is that Nolan wanted another year of security on his contract, and Miami was offering it. Denver declined to do so. Their parting was mutual, but it’s somehow all pinned on McDaniels by everybody, not just Adam Schein. Meanwhile, Wink Martindale’s scheme has been fine, if the execution hasn’t always been, mostly due to a ton of man-games lost on that side of the ball by key players.
All of the above, frankly, is more damning than the controversial pick of Tebow. I happen to like Tebow as a potential pro. It’s more damning than drafting an injured yet supremely talented receiver in Demaryius Thomas is the first round. Being fair, I like both these players. But the issue for McDaniels is whether the Broncos, who needed help on defense, should’ve picked a project quarterback and banged-up receiver in the first round.
And, as Bill Parcells once said, “You are what you are.” The body of work speaks for itself. After a 6-0 start, his team sputtered to an 8-8 finish. The Broncos are in dead last in the AFC West at 3-8. They gave up 59 points at home to the Oakland Raiders in a game where Darren McFaddentold us, “It looked like we broke their will.” They gave up 59 points at home to the damn Raiders. It has to make Bowlen ill.
I think that that Parcells quote is oversimplified nonsense, but it’s taken as gospel for some reason. I started writing a column about that recently, and got sidetracked from finishing it, but I’ll run it one of these days. That Raiders game was definitely a debacle, but the Broncos have an opportunity to get some revenge in a few weeks. I expect that they will do so with a vengeance. And, yeah, the Broncos are 3-8, but if a few breaks went another way, they could easily have a winning record. Plus, as mentioned, they’re in a secret rebuilding process, regrettably.
Denver fans should be thankful for Steve Scarnecchia. He hopefully delivered the dagger in forcing a change. As if you needed any more visual evidence that McDaniels is in way over his head. He is a losing football coach. He can’t run an organization.
This is a non-sequitur from the jump-off. Scarnecchia is a guy who made a mistake, and embarassed the organization. I am not thankful for that. As for McDaniels’ ability to run an organization, apparently Schein has been reading John Clayton archives.
Coaching the Denver Broncos is a plum job. The NFL is better when the Broncos are relevant. They aren’t right now. Denver needs to hire a legit new general manager, who will hire the next coach. The Broncos need to follow the Falcons model from a few years back after Bobby Petrino quit like a coward.
Denver deserves a winner. You shouldn’t need a rogue videographer to help you see the Broncos don’t have one. There’s no excuse, Pat Bowlen. Save your franchise.
Denver doesn’t deserve anything by virtue of being Denver. Success comes to those who do the right things over a long period of time. Josh McDaniels is mostly doing them, but forces in the media continue to agitate for his tenure to be limited to an unreasonably short period of time. I told Nick Kostos the other night that I think McDaniels is targeted by media people who don’t like Bill Belichick personally, but find it hard to criticize him much, because he wins. (Kostos disagreed without being disagreeable, for the record.) Eric Mangini insulates himself by being really secretive. McDaniels is very forthcoming and reasonable with the media, on virtually all topics except injuries, and this allows him to be targeted. For a guy with bad people skills, McDaniels sure comes across as a pretty personable guy in his press conferences. When he’s back next year, with more talent on the roster, and more continuity in the current schemes, media people like Brother Schein are going to be eating a lot of crow, because the Broncos are going to be contenders sooner rather than later. I have a suspicion that a lot of the agitation from the national media types is about avoiding ever having to eat any. I’ll just be smirking, in my semi-arrogant, Kanye-like way, once again.
Originally posted at One Man Football