While Broncos coach Josh McDaniels has generated a lot of buzz (not necessarily good buzz) after jettisoning QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall, the split with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has slid under the radar.
And the move may seem puzzling. The Broncos ranked seventh in total defense in 2009. A rather significant improvement from 29th the previous year. So what happened between McDaniels and Nolan? Mike Klis of the Denver Post addressed the reason during a recent mailbag.
As I was told by several players, the beginning of the end for Nolan was the Indianapolis Colts’ game — the 13th of the season. To review, the Broncos carried an 8-4 record into that game, having won their last two. McDaniels won the coin toss, deferred, and then Peyton Manning put the Colts up 21-0 after three possessions.
During that 21-0 blitzkrieg, Nolan called some plays — particularly the run-blitz — that McDaniels didn’t like. The hostile way McDaniels handled that communication breakdown was not well-received by Nolan. A month and four consecutive losses later, Nolan and McDaniels mutually agreed to part ways, without much comment.
Seems a little excessive, but as previously mentioned, McDaniels seemingly has a problem with players and coaches who actually produce for the team. Which explains why he acquired QBs Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow after Kyle Orton put up impressive numbers last year. So if Knowshon Moreno gains 1,500 yards this season, he’s out.
Alright, that might be an exaggeration, but dumping a guy after giving up a lot of yards to Manning seems kind of harsh, and would likely lead to a lot of unemployment around the league.