For having such a short NFL-tenure, the Josh McDaniels era (if it can be called that) as the head coach of the Denver Broncos was at times exhilarating, at times painful and at times (unintentionally) comical. What it always was, though, was chaotic. Who would have known roughly a season and a half would have had such wide impact on the NFL?
Is Tim Tebow a first round pick and national sensation without McDaniels? Is Tony Scheffler a Detroit Lion? Peyton Hillis a Brown? You get the point. McDaniels had some amazing offensive talent on the 2009-10 rosters that he seemed to recklessly and impulsively trade away with little thought, or certainly without obtaining equal value in return (read: Cutler for Orton). Sure, McDaniels had a problem with each of these players, but was the problem theirs or his? I guess that’s debate for folks trained in the mental sciences, not me.
One other recent which likely would not have occurred without McDaniels reign of terror: Peyton Manning is not a Bronco today. The reason – pre-Daniels, the Bronco had maybe the highest octane offense in the league.
When McDaniels arrive with the Broncos, he had not only Scheffler and Hillis at the ready, but also the dynamic duo of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. It’s hard to remember now, but the Denver Broncos offensive back then looked like a revved up version of the New England Patriots. It could score at will – just like the Pats, but it did it with flair, panache and style.
Cutler could throw a dart 40 yards with a flick of his wrist to a streaking Brandon Marshall, who seemed to dwarf the smaller (and slower) defensive backs.
Well, Superman (or at least his arm) and the Flash are back together, this time in Chicago Bears’ uniforms. And Jeremy Bates, the passing offensive coordinator for the Broncos during the huge offensive production years, has joined the Bears as the new quarterbacks coach as well.
Do you think the Bears are looking for a little trip down memory lane with these guys? You bet.
Add Matt Forte (assuming he and the Bears can work out their differences) and Devin Hester to the mix and the heady numbers put up by the Broncos in 2008-2010 might seem paltry in comparison… if the Bears can figure out to make all the pieces work together in 2012. And it certainly seems like they are trying to do that.
Regardless, it will be fun to watch. Cutler with his arm. Marshall with his spend and strength. Hester with, well, his unparalleled ability. The Bears are going to be tough to defend this year.
By Jeff Quick