Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the former head coach of the Denver Broncos, tried to downplay Sunday’s home game against the Broncos at Gillette stadium as “the next game” on the docket for the 2-2 Patriots.
“It’s an important game for our team,” McDaniels said, when asked if he had any special feelings going against the team that gave him his first head coaching opportunity in the NFL. “I guess there’s a lot of times over the course of a season where there’s players or coaches on either team who have had experience or been a part of another organization or team and I think that happens rather often, I would say.
“It’s a big game for us because it’s the next one and we’re just trying to build on some of the things that we did well in our last game and really emphasize trying to play well at home.”
The Broncos hired McDaniels Jan. 11, 2009, to succeed Mike Shanahan as head coach, At the time, Denver made the then 33-year-old McDaniels the youngest head coach in the NFL, until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrested that distinction away five days later by hiring 32-year-old Raheem Morris as their head coach to succeed the fired Jon Gruden.
McDaniels had a checkered tenure with the Broncos, compiliing an 11-17 overall record. Before his first season, McDaniels lost the trust of incumbent quarterback Jay Cutler, who had been rumored to be on the trading block then wound up being traded to the Bears after being reassured by McDaniels he was not being dealt.
The Broncos won their first six consecutive games under McDaniels, including a 20-17 overtime home victory against the Patriots in Week 5, before losing four consecutive games. Denver squandered an opportunity for a playoff berth in a 44-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, marking the Bronco’s third straight home loss to a division opponent.
The season-ending loss to the Chiefs, which left the Broncos with an 8-8 record, was pockmarked by McDaniels’ controversial benching of Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who wound up being traded to the Miami Dolphins after the season.
Controversy shrouded McDaniels’ dismissal when his second season in Denver ended with a 3-9 record after a loss to the Chiefs Dec. 5, 2010. The next day, McDaniels was fired, in part for his failure to immediately report a videotaping scandal in which the team’s director of video operations, Steve Scarnecchia, shot video of a 49ers’ walkthrough at Wembley Stadium in a Week 8 game against San Francisco in London, England.
The NFL wound up fining the Broncos and McDaniels $50,000 each and Scarnecchia was fired from his position.
Asked what he had learned from his time in Denver, McDaniels replied, “Any time you take on another role or another position, there’s always a lot of things that you learn. It’s hard to really pinpoint one thing or another, but it gave me a great opportunity. It’s a great organization and a great owner.
“You go out there and try to do the best you can with what you know and the things you’re capable of doing,” McDaniels said. “I think that, ultimately, it’s really hard to pinpoint one or two things about exactly what you learn.
“You learn a lot of different things on all different levels because you’re so involved in so many aspects of the organization as a head coach. Hopefully all those different experiences will pay off and make me a better person and coach going forward in the future.”