Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said embattled coach Josh McDaniels’s job is safe, but, after telling AOL FanHouse last night that McDaniels would be back in 2011, Bowlen issued a statement that seemed to back off that a bit.
Bowlen’s statement said that while the season has been a trying and disappointing one, “Josh McDaniels is the head coach of the Broncos, and you always strive for stability at that position.’’
He added that with five games left, “we will continue to monitor the progress of the team and evaluate what’s in the best interest of this franchise.’’
To hear him tell it, McDaniels won’t be dwelling on whether the Broncos’ problems on and off the field will cost him his job.
Denver’s second-year coach said yesterday his only focus is on trying to salvage a 3-8 season sullied by a videotaping scandal that cost him and the team $50,000 each and resulted in a subordinate’s firing over the weekend.
“It’s not, you know, not my decision, not something that’s in my control,’’ McDaniels said of his job status. “I’m just going to worry about what I can focus on and try to control the things that I can control.’’
McDaniels has two years and nearly $7 million left on his contract, and Bowlen is still on the hook for millions more he owes Mike Shanahan, whom he fired last year.
McDaniels seemed melancholy a day after the Broncos’ 36-33 home loss to St. Louis, the team’s 16th defeat in 21 games.
“Nobody likes to have that kind of attention,’’ McDaniels said when asked how he was handling the heavy criticism he’s facing nationally. “Certainly, I’m not oblivious to that. I’m human. I know what we’re about here. I know what I’m about here.’’
McDaniels also addressed reports that during a confidential staff meeting last week he had minimized the scope of the scandal relative to the Patriots’ “Spygate’’ issue, where an NFL investigation found systemic videotaping of opponents and levied heavy penalties.
He said his staff meetings are supposed to be confidential “and so to hear something out there about something that was said is disappointing.’’
Steelers count on QB Despite spraining his right foot against the Bills Sunday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to be in the lineup when Pittsburgh takes on host Baltimore next Sunday night for first place in the AFC North.
Roethlisberger is 7-2 as a starter against the Ravens, with both losses occurring in 2006. He was suspended when Baltimore beat the Steelers Oct. 3 in Pittsburgh, and was out with a concussion during an overtime loss in Baltimore last season.
Separation anxiety Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski had an MRI on his right shoulder, but there was no immediate word on the extent of the injury. Gradkowski said after Sunday’s game that the shoulder felt like it did when he separated it Oct. 10 — an injury that sidelined him for more than a month. Signs point to Jason Campbell, who has lost the starting job twice already, to be Oakland’s quarterback of the immediate future . . . Titans quarterback Vince Young announced on his Twitter page he will undergo surgery on a torn flexor tendon in his right thumb. Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher estimated a 5-8 week recovery period for Young . . . Injured Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was active during practice, albeit making soft tosses during warm-ups. Romo, who broke his left collarbone Oct. 25, is expected to miss at least two more games.
Fight draws fines The league fined Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan $25,000 each for their fight in Sunday’s game, but will not suspend them. Johnson apologized after the game, and Finnegan has not spoken about the incident . . . While Steelers linebacker James Harrison awaits word on a possible fine for his roughing the passer penalty Sunday against Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, he learned from the league his appeals for two earlier fines, one for $75,000 and one for $20,000, were turned down . . . The league is looking into a verbal confrontation between Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib and an official who worked the Buccaneers’ game against the Ravens Sunday. Talib reportedly made an expletive-laced comment to an unidentified official about the call made by field judge Boris Cheek. The Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times said the official responded by using an expletive of his own to describe how Talib played and that the player then threatened to punch him.
Fan death accidental A medical examiner ruled the death of an Illinois man who fell from a stadium concourse during halftime of Sunday’s Bears-Eagles game at Soldier Field was an accident. Stewart Haverty, 23, cleared a 3-foot barrier near a concessions area and fell more than 35 feet onto the roof of a storage building. “It’s a tragic, unfortunate accident,’’ said stadium spokesman Luca Serra, who called the death an “isolated incident.’’ . . . Bills coach Chan Gailey fears defensive end Dwan Edwards could miss the rest of the season with a left hamstring injury . . . Rams rookie tight end Michael Hoomanawanui will be out 4-6 weeks with a high right ankle sprain.