Why Josh McDaniels failed in Denver

Injuries, a porous defense and McDaniels' stubbornness led to coach's downfall

Updated: December 7, 2010, 11:27 AM ET
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
 Josh McDaniels Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesJosh McDaniels' Broncos did not meet expectations this season.

Although most of the eulogies for the Josh McDaniels era have focused on the controversies that engulfed the Broncos off the field, it wasn't the trades of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall that caused the Broncos trouble. Brandon Lloyd has outperformed Marshall this season, and over the past year and a half, Kyle Orton's been a better quarterback than Cutler by virtually any measure imaginable. The SpyGate 2.0 scandal that is prepared to be the basis for a "just cause" firing of McDaniels appears, at least publicly, to be the work of a rogue video director.

The truth is that McDaniels wouldn't have been fired after 28 games if his team was winning games. And if we look at what's happened to the Broncos since that 6-0 start under McDaniels last year, there's one aspect of their game that stands out as the obvious cause. While we wrote about the degradation of the running game a couple of weeks ago, that's not the primary reason the Broncos fell apart under McDaniels. The unit to blame is the defense, which has fallen apart to a remarkable degree in 2010.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.