Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Jun 2010

Broncos Give Chris Kuper Six-Year Deal

Him? Really? Chris Kuper gets a six-year deal for $29 million, including $15 million in guaranteed dosh.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 04 Jun 2010

67 comments, Last at 08 Jun 2010, 2:22pm by dmb


by Temo :: Fri, 06/04/2010 - 9:28pm

McDaniels' reign in Denver is beginning more and more to resemble Belichick's time in Cleveland.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Fri, 06/04/2010 - 10:20pm

I've got no problem with the deal. Kuper's a quality contributor and should be a long-time piece on the line. If Denver locks up Harris and Clady for a similar length, they'll make up 3/5ths of a great line for years to come. The contract's not that big, to be honest- for comparison, Fanaca got 5 years $40 million ($21 guaranteed) from the Jets. Under $5 million a year seems a decent contract for a quality guard.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm confused why anyone is panning this deal. Anyone care to explain it to me?

by Venger :: Fri, 06/04/2010 - 11:21pm

It's just strange to see a guard make that much money on a non-power-rushing team.

Especially now that they've abandoned the zone-blocking scheme. Everything seems to indicate that they're moving towards a pass-oriented offense, where guards aren't exactly at a premium.

by dmstorm22 :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 3:59am

Considering that their QBs are Orton, Quinn and Tebow, isn't moving to a passing offense the only logical next step to McNasty's time there.

by tunesmith :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 1:33pm

Everything I've read about the oline indicates that they're in the middle of converting to a power-rush run game, which started last season, which is why Weigman/Hamilton underperformed last season after they did so well the season before in the zone scheme.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 12:23am

That's just the thing, though- 6 years, $29 million isn't that much money for a guard. The elite guards are making substantially more. Kuper's deal comes out to under $5 mil a year, while Faneca's deal with the Jets was $8 mil a year, and that was several years ago when the revenue stream was smaller and teams had a salary cap to contend with. To me, this looks like Denver signing a good guard for an average salary.

by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 12:55pm

I think you mean and average guard for an average salary, this is the NFL everyone is "Good"

by rageon :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 9:13am

As a fellow University of North Dakota alum, good for Kuper.

As Bronco fan still unsure about following this team after the McD debacle, I almost wish could escape this (now) disaster of a franchise.

by tunesmith :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 1:36pm

what exactly was a debacle? For all the Cutler/Marshall/Schefler/Tebow criticisms, there hasn't yet been clear evidence that they've actually been wrong decisions.

by rageon :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 4:24pm

Does going from the #2 offense to the #18 count?

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 5:42pm

Exactly. He took over an offense that was ready to explode (I don't think you can find anyone who disagrees), and completely tanked it. He was saved by Nolan (who he, as a thank you, sent to Miami), and still only managed to deliver the exact same result as Shanahan had - a hot start, followed by a horrible crashlanding.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 10:34am

You seem to be ignoring the fact that the GM had a falling out with the franchise QB over firing the previous GM, and traded him.

I disagree that the offense was ready to explode.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:12pm

I don't know if I would call it a fact. All I know is that a franchise QB left on McDaniels' watch.

While we're getting sidetracked (that's what offseason's for), I just don't see a way you can possibly disagree that the offense was on the brink of powerhouse-status.

by Nathan :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:30pm

To me, people are getting caught up in the fact that Cutler threw a lot of picks in Chicago, and Orton had a career year in McDaniels offense when they gauge whether Denver's offense in 2008 was on the brink of being something really, really special (which I think it was). The thing is, you can't look at Cutler without Shanahan. Shanahan's offense was perfect for Cutler. That's why he traded up to draft him. And that's why Shanahan went after McNabb in Washington. Like Cutler, he is mobile enough to roll out on all those bootlegs, has a live arm and throws a great deep ball. McDaniels' scheme requires a different skillset. Now some coaches would have taken a Dungy approach and left well enough alone and played with the D. That's easier when you're a defensive minded HC like Dungy was. McDaniels isn't, so he didn't. He's an offensive guru whose scheme got him in the door and he wanted to run his scheme and mold the team the way that got him there.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 10:47am

I understand that's what he wanted to do, but it was stupid. He took apart a top-5 offense in the hopes of getting his scheme in place and hopefully turning Denver into... a top-5 offense. Why? Where's the upside of the move? Even the most cursory risk/reward analysis should show how ludicrously stupid that idea was.

People talk about McDaniels being an "offensive guru" as if that means he couldn't help but mold the offense in his own image. I call bull on that. McDaniels actually broke into the league on the DEFENSIVE side, and he spent more time with the Patriots on that side than he did on the offensive side. He's perfectly capable of working with a defense. He simply chose not to.

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:32pm

I disagree on the "powerhouse status" as well, that seems more like Denver homerism to me. The only significant change from 2008 other than trading Marshall (which was in many ways necessary and provided a good return) was trading Cutler (which also provided a good return in draft picks BTW). I hardly think the difference between Cutler and Orton is the difference between a "powerhouse" and a mediocre offense.

by Nathan :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:37pm

I could not think of a better example to illustrate my above post.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 6:45am

I dunno... Maybe powerhouse was a too agressive term. Lets say top 5 production in 4 of the following 5 seasons.

And I actually think that downgrading from Cutler to Orton makes that big a difference. At least when you consider the Oline playing a new scheme, which they obviously wouldn't have with Shanahan.

What if you take Rivers out in San Diego (an offensive powerhouse as far as I'm concerned), replace him with Orton, and make the Oline zone-block. I think the outcome of that would be pretty horrible.

Now, this new McD offense is maybe not too dependent on quality QB-play (Cassel/Brady), but Shanahans offense very much is - at least in terms of physical abillity (armstrenght, mobillity etc.)

by Nathan :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 10:37am

Don't sell it short. This plate of beans is getting overthought. Top 10 offense. Pro Bowl QB, WR1, LT, rookie WR2 with receptions record. All under the age of 26. Plus a blocking scheme that could get my grandma 1,000 yards. How do you think San Diego feels about all that being dismantled?

by chemical burn :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 11:52am

Yeah, I think that's a very true observation: since McDaniel's took over, don't San Diego fans feel like they own the division for another 5 years? I think even Raider and KC fans must be thinking, "shoot we can pull overselves up to second place in the division if everything falls right."

McDaniels and his strategies might very well work out, but so much of what he does just looks so bad on paper (like dismantling a very good offense) and then his personality is awful.

Anyway, the jury is out on McDaniels, but even his defenders have to admit a lot of his moves LOOK bad. I mean... Tim Tebow?

by tornadot :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 6:03pm

I know they put up a ton of yards but what was the Denver offensive ranking as far as scoring was concerned?

by Nathan :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 6:16pm

Scored 370 points (23.1/g), 16th of 32 in the NFL.

Scored 326 points (20.4/g), 20th of 32 in the NFL.

by dmb :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 7:49pm

Denver's average starting field position:

2008: 25.85, 32nd of 32 in the NFL.
2009: 29.21, 18th of 32 in the NFL.

by Nathan :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 8:40pm

You think 4 yards a drive equals 3 more points a game?

For comparison's sake I've heard the stat thrown around that an elite QB adds 5-6 points a game to a team. So, as a Pats fan, I should welcome a trade of Brady for Orton straight up plus a guarantee of 8 more yards of field position per drive?

by dmb :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 10:09pm

No and no. I wasn't trying to suggest either of those things.

Between your post and tornadot's, it seemed like someone might draw the conclusion that the difference between Denver's offense in 2008 and 2009 has been overstated because the 2008 version didn't put an overwhelming number points on the board. The fact that the 2008 offense was clearly put at a disadvantage by the defense and special teams didn't seem be receiving any consideration. I thought that the fact that the 2008 offense took the league's worst starting field position and converted it into a league-average number of points is a pretty strong point in its favor, and its DVOA backs that up (Denver did have the second-highest offensive DVOA in 2008). Similarly, having the league's 18th-best starting position and finishing 20th in points would suggest that the offense is doing very slightly less than what it probably should be. (And again, this story fits with Denver's offensive DVOA: 18th in 2009.)

by Nathan :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 10:32pm

Yeah, you're right, I read your numbers as flipped for some reason (like 08 had better field position than 09) and then totally misinterpreted your point... my bad.

by dmb :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 10:40pm

Well, I didn't really add any commentary to the information, so it's understandable that the point of my post wasn't very clear.

While you were writing this reply, I was editing my post to add some more interesting info. Unfortunately, you finished posting before I finished editing, so I'm putting it here.

As I think you figured out, the difference between the 2008 and 2009 Denver offenses wasn't 4 yards a drive. In fact, it was more than double that: it was 8.62 yards per drive. On average, the 2009 Denver offense started about 3.5 yards closer to the opponents' end zone than its 2008 counterpart, and ended drives about 5 yards farther away. That's a pretty substantial difference.

And despite the fact that my original post wasn't intended to address the subject you brought up, I thought it was a a very interesting one, so I did some very rough calculations. Here's what I found:

In 2009, a total of 171,590 yards were gained, and 10,991 points were scored. (Again, this is a ROUGH calculation; I wasn't going to take the time to adjust for defensive scores, yard-gaining-but-not-point-scoring Hail Marys, etc.) This translates into 0.06 points per yard, which would make 8 yards worth 0.51 points. The average number of drives per team in 2009 was 181.41. So 8 additional yards per drive would translate into 92.96 yards per season, or 5.81 yards per game.

So remarkably, even though I wasn't making any sort of claim related to what you suggested, it looks like 8 yards per drive just might be worth about 5-6 points per game! Of course, I don't know where the idea of an elite quarterback having the same value came from, so I'm not in a good position to assess the trade you pejoratively proposed.

by Fan in Exile :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 10:35am
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 4:15pm

Don't you mean a top 10 guard?

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 6:47am

Top ten RIGHT guard at that.

by dmb :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 12:00pm

He was number 5 on the list, so top-5 RG. Since the author separated LG from RG, it's impossible to say whether this particular author sees Kuper as a top-10 guard or not.

by The Blow Leprechaun (not verified) :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 11:00am

I still don't understand why everyone hates McDaniels so much. Predictions before last year on here were that the Broncos would be lucky to win a couple games, and they barely missed the playoffs.

Sure, his methods seem eccentric and his personality seems overly sensitive, but there's no evidence so far that he doesn't know what he's doing. On the contrary, he's been more successful than expected.

It's almost become a meme on this site, you've got your unholy trinity of Favre, Tebow, and McDaniels, who can do no right. It's really pretty tiresome and childish - exactly the sort of behavior everyone seems to criticize McDaniels for.

by Nathan :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 11:15am

FWIW I hated the Cutler trade when it went down and thought Tebow wouldn't be able to make the transition but am actually starting to root for McD a bit... I mean, at some point you kind of have to appreciate the sheer size of the cojones. If he can actually pull it off it'd be a pretty epic "eff you" to the armchair head coaches of the world.

by Jerry :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 9:19pm

Those predictions were made after Cutler left, presumably because McDaniels preferred Cassel. If you want to say "Let's reevaluate this in three years," that's reasonable. The sense, though, is that Josh inherited a decent situation from Shanahan and (to this point) made it worse in an effort to mold the team in his own image, or even his mentor's.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 12:43am

I can't speak for everyone, but I can say why *I* hate McDaniels. A year and a half ago, this was Denver's offense-

Jay Cutler - 25 year old pro bowl QB
Brandon Marshall - 24 year old pro bowl WR
Ryan Clady - 23 year old 2nd team all pro LT
Ryan Harris - 23 year old pro-bowl caliber RT
Chris Kuper - 26 year old quality RG
Tony Scheffler - 25 year old quality receiving TE
Eddie Royal - 22 year old WR who just had the second most catches by any rookie ever

That's 7 offensive positions that were locked down by All Pros, Pro Bowlers, or near-pro bowl-caliber players who were all age 26 or younger- every position except for LG and C (where they had two aging but still high-quality veterans), blocking TE (where they had 31-year old Graham, who was the best in the business), and RB (where they had just put a mind-boggling 7 players on IR the year before). That's the kind of young and talented offensive nucleus that the NFL hadn't seen in a decade, ever since Indy was trotting out some youngsters named Peyton, Edgerrin, and Marvin. Despite the youth, Denver still had the #2 offense in the entire league according to DVOA- and again, this was despite putting SEVEN RUNNINGBACKS ON INJURED RESERVE. Their starting RB in November 2008 was selling cell phones in the local mall in October.

What has McDaniels done since inheriting the team? Well, Cutler is gone, replaced by Kyle Orton. Marshall is gone, replaced by Jabar Gaffney. Scheffler is gone, replaced by Richard Quinn (a 2nd round draft pick who had 12 receptions... in his entire college career). Royal has been completely marginalized. That stellar offensive line is switching away from the most successful blocking scheme of the past 15 years. The #12 draft pick was spent on an RB despite the fact that Denver ranked 1st in rushing DVOA (with their EIGHTH STRING RB) the year before (and that #12 draft pick wound up getting radically outproduced by Correll Buckhalter). In other words, Josh McDaniels inherited one of the greatest offensive nuclei I've ever seen... and then he ran everybody off or put them in a scheme that they're not suited for. He was put in a situation where all he had to do was NOT SCREW IT UP, and he's devoted every resource since then to screwing it up.

Moreover, he inherited a scouting department responsible for the 2006 and 2008 drafts (the drafts that uncovered Cutler, Marshall, Scheffler, Dumervil, Clady, Royal, etc)... and he fired the scouting department a month before the draft because they got in a power struggle with a capologist... and McDaniels sided with the capologist. He then bragged after the 2008 draft that he only had between 50 and 100 names on his draft board. It's early, but after one year it looks like that draft was a complete and total disaster.

When Tony Dungy inherited the Colts, he realized that all he had to do was let the offense continue to dominate while he continuously tweaked the defense until it was just league average. With that strategy, he kicked off an NFL record string of 12+ win seasons. Faced with the exact same situation, Josh McDaniels opted for the exact opposite approach. It stinks of hubris to me, which is why I don't like Josh McDaniels.

In McDaniels' defense, at least he improved the defense. Never mind the fact that the defense was due to improve due to simple regression. Never mind the fact that he's already chased off the architect of that improvement. Never mind the fact that the only way he made that improvement was by assembling the oldest starting secondary in NFL history, leaving the defense primed to fall apart with a vengeance in coming years (or in the second half of every season, like they did last year).

McDaniels might wind up being one hell of a coach, but nobody can look at the Denver Broncos and say that they're better off today than they were in December 2008. It's just not possible.

by tunesmith :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 2:40am

That just shows how easy it is to take a bunch of facts and twist them. Never mind that 2006-2008's scouting team proved horrible at drafting defensive players. Clady, Harris, Kuper, and Royal are still with the team, and are all starters. Being down to an 8th-string running back isn't reason to draft a running back? Richard Quinn was drafted because of his blocking skills (which you apparently value by complimenting Graham, who is still with the team despite you referring to him in the past tense). Correll Buckhalter, the back who was good enough to outproduce a #12 draft pick that gained 1000+ all-purpose yards, was a pickup by... Josh McDaniels. Etc.

by MikeD :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 3:29am

What tunesmith said plus, oh so much more:

I absolutely think you can argue that they are better of now than they were when he was hired. I'm gonna ramble a LOT below but, basically, the argument the team is worse relies on being worse @ QB1/WR1/TE2 trumping improvement almost everywhere else.

1) As pointed out above, by FO's own statistics, the team improved tremendously (-6.5 to 11.9). I'm curious, how many teams had a bigger one year jump and yet still had their fan base (or at least a vocal, loud minority) going crazy?

2) I think people forget just how seriously thin the 2008 Denver Broncos really were. 23 players from that team were not on a team starting the 2009 season, and I believe, only 3 of those 23 ended up on a roster by the end of the season. You're looking at almost half a roster who were out of the league the next year.

3) And, while they'd still be better, I'm curious how good that epic 2008 offense would've been if Ryan Harris only starts 8 games. The offense was worse in 2010, unquestionably, but the drop from Harris to Polumbus was HUGE. I bet, if you ask Shanny/McD both, would you rather go through 8 RBs with Harris or relatively healthy RBs with Harris for 1/2 the season, both take the former.

4) But let's look position by position (and, if you want to skip it, it's fair to say the talent on offense is a little worse and the talent on defense is a lot better):

QB - worse off
RB - better now (no matter what you think of Moreno, he starts above any RB on the '08 roster as does Buck).
WR - I'm not gonna argue Gaffney's as good as Marshall (he's not) but look at FO's own stats. Gaffney/Marshall had a pretty even 2009. But Gaffney/Royal/Thomas/Decker/Stokely vs. Marshall/Royal/Stokely/Jackson/Colbert? It's close. Hell, Lloyd/McKinley aren't gonna make the 2010 team and both probably make the '08 team.

And it's worth pausing here to acknowledge, the Marshall situation was going to be an issue for ANY coach. He's one incident away from a long suspension, a history of injuries, no interest in practice, and a penchant for childish behavior. He's a really good, if not great WR, but I don't think McD/Xanders were the only admin who would've been unwilling to give him $30 mill guaranteed (and let's remember, after signing that contract, Marshall had hip surgery and didn't tell the Dolphins until the first day of OTAs while he continues to pout about Davone Bess not selling him the #15). Read the comments from Broncos players after the trade, they weren't exactly overcome with grief over Marshall's departure.

TE - worse off but let's see what Marques Branson can do as the receiving TE because Graham/Quinn is clearly an upgrade in blocking. And, really let's not act like 40/640/3 makes Scheff the next Gates/Gonzalez.
OL - Who knows. The 2008 version is absolutely better but, some combination Seth Olson/Hochstein/Walton versus the 2010 version of Hamilton/Wiegmann? The LG/C were going to be need areas, regardless of whom was hired (as you acknowledge).

DL - Better. The real culprits for the defensive fade last year was this group wearing down and now McBean/Fields are back-ups and Kenny Peterson cut. As for 2008 - Josh Shaw? Nic Clemons? John Engelberger? Dewayne Robertson? All out of the league.
LB - Better. Akin Ayodele is the worst LB on the roster and he's better than Nate Webster. Robert Ayers cannot develop one single% from his rookie year and he'd still be better than Boss Bailey was in 2008.
DB - Better. You're not wrong. They are old. But, under the starters are 3 young CBs and 3 young safeties could be no worse than the guys being trotted out in 2008. Darcel McBath, before his injury, in limited action was better than any safety in 2008. David Bruton would've been no worse than Calvin Lowry (and obviously Josh Barrett vs. Josh Barrett is a push).

K - same
P - impossible to guess but let's not act like Brett Kern was anything special.
ST - 18th in the league @ -.1% vs. 31st in the league at -5.8%

The offense is worse off, but that's almost all simply because of the change from Cutler to Orton (not trying to minimize this but, really, this is the drop off).

As for the defense, simple regression didn't help DET or STL. And simple regression isn't going from 31 (and historically bad) to 7th in a year. As for, Nolan got a lot of credit, and deservedly so but you just can't deny the talent is far better too; I think the projected backups for this year of McBean/Fields/Smith/Reid/Larsen/Ayodele/Atkins/Smith/Jones/McBath/Bruton could be no worse than '08 defense.

The 2008 Denver Broncos weren't good. Young nucleus of offensive talent? Sure. The team as a whole? Not good.

The 2009 Denver Broncos were better. Looking at DVOA, the 2009 Broncos were closer to being the 6th best team in the league than the 2008 Broncos were to being the 20th best team.

The 2010 Broncos might be somewhere in between. But they're not going to be as bad as the 2008 version (even if the '09 and '10 draft classes are busts). And, while the core of the defense is undeniably old, of the projected 53-man roster, at least 34 are going to be 27 or younger.

McDaniels has made the team deeper while getting younger (and, let's be fair, it's no more unreasonable to have faith in the '10 class than it is to have no faith; one bad draft class, if it is even fair to judge after one year, doesn't mean the next can't be good; simply look at the differing quality of the '05/'06/'07/'08 classes) not to mention filling the locker room with hard working, high character players.

You can call me crazy for thinking the team is better. I certainly think those think the team is worse might be.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 7:46pm

Condensed version: McDaniels good, everything else bad.

Proof that verbosity and stupidity often go together.

by db :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 9:58pm

Wow weasel, you are aptly self titled.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:17am

You just proved the exception to the rule.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 2:12am

I agree with you on a lot of points, but you are missing the majority of the point: He didn't have to mess up the offense! If you want to give him full credit for the regression-powered improvement og D and ST, go ahead. But he still tore apart a young promising offense, and got next to nothing in return. The improvement on D & ST and the demise on offense are seperate events, it's not like if you keep the offense going, the defense will automatically be bad.

Just because you are better off now, doesn't mean you handled the situation well. In terms of expected outcome, McD has underperformed in his, admittedly short, coaching career.

by MikeD :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 9:08am

I wasn't trying to suggest that the team is better now than they would've been had he gone the 'Dungy route' or say Bowlen had hired Spags or Schwartz, instead, I was only addressing that I think, overall, the roster now is better than it was in 2008 (I should've just written this sentence instead all of my ramblings).

And, absolutely he could've accomplished a similar improvement on D/ST without trading Cutler, Marshall, and Scheffler, and if I stated, implied or suggested otherwise, my bad.

by Kaveman :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 3:37pm

Um. Who is twisting what facts? Royal is still on the team? Coulda fooled me. Being down to the 8th string and still being successful only says something about good depth, not that you need to draft a running back. And having a veteran pickup outperform your #1 pick really doesn't showcase great talent judgement.

I'm with An Ominous here. McDaniels could have gone the Dungy route and the Broncos would have been a top five team for the next decade. Instead... I'm curious to see how the Redskins will do next season.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 10:39am

"McDaniels could have gone the Dungy route and the Broncos would have been a top five team for the next decade. "

No, he could not have, because Bowlen was already fighting with Cutler before McDaniels was hired. Cutler was gone no matter who was hired.

by Kaveman :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 5:01pm

Let's not rewrite history here. Cutler stopped answering Bowlen's calls after McDaniels blew the trust relationship out of the water. Right after McDaniels was hired, Cutler said "all the right things" about it in an interview. McDaniels simply had to keep Jeremy Bates as OC and apply his attention to the defense. He chose to remake the team. So hey. Here we are.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 2:56am

Having the #1 rushing offense in the league (according to DVOA) despite being down to an 8th string runningback is absolutely a reason not to spend the #12 overall draft pick on an RB. Are you kidding? What about "Hey, we can sign a clerk from the mall and still have the best rushing attack in the league" leads to "perhaps we should ignore every other need on the entire team and spend our single most valuable draft pick on another RB to improve our running game!"?

Clady and Harris are both still with the team. So is Kuper, who just signed this new deal. Congratulations Josh McDaniels- you haven't chased off any of your star young linemen... you've only decided to completely scrap the blocking scheme that made them stars in the first place, chasing off the scouting department that drafted them and the offensive line coach that developed them while you were at it.

Royal's still on the team... but McDaniels doesn't use him. McDaniels said himself that he didn't use Royal enough last year. Maybe this year he'll make Royal a centerpiece... but if we're grading McDaniels based on what he's done so far, even McDaniels would not give himself a passing grade in terms of how he's utilized Royal.

Richard Quinn was drafted IN THE SECOND ROUND for his blocking skills despite the fact that Denver already had the best and highest-paid blocking TE in the entire league on its roster and the fact that blocking TEs are not worth 2nd round draft picks. McDaniels blew a 2nd round draft pick on a backup blocking TE when his defense was that terrible. That's as absurd as blowing the #12 draft pick on an RB when your running game is already unstoppable with spare parts.

The scouting department from 2006-2008 couldn't draft good defensive players... except for all the instances where they drafted good defensive players. In 2005 they landed two NFL starter-caliber CBs despite not having a first round pick. In 2006 they only spent one draft pick on a defensive player, a 4th rounder- you might have heard his name when he was busy leading the NFL in sacks last season. 2007 was a bad draft, but Jack Williams (4th rounder in 2008) looked like a promising player in 2008 before McDaniels cut him loose. Denver didn't draft many impact defensive players from 2006-2008 because Denver didn't draft many defensive players PERIOD from 2006-2008. And, since you brought that up, how did McDaniels wind up doing on defensive players last year? Robert Ayers looked terrible as a rookie. Alphonso Smith (who cost a high first round draft pick) looked even worse. Darcel McBath probably would have looked just as bad if he wasn't completely invisible. That's three top-50 picks spent on defense and 0 impact players to show for it.

The fact that a Josh McDaniels free agent signing outproduced a Josh McDaniels high draft pick is not proof of McDaniels' scouting acumen. I mean, a team could have drafted Jamarcus Russell and then signed Aaron Brooks as a free agent. Would you have then said "sure, Aaron Brooks outproduced Jamarcus... but the front office brought in Brooks, so they must be doing something right!"?

Yes, Denver's total DVOA ranking last year was radically better than it was in 2008. There's this neat little principal called "regression to the mean" that says when you're historically awful in one phase of the game (such as when Denver put up the second-worst defensive DVOA of the DVOA era in 2008), you're probably going to do better next year just due to random chance. Bowlen could have hired anyone and his defense would have improved in 2009. The question then becomes whether the team improved more under McDaniels than it would have under, say, a Mike Shanahan. And in my mind, it absolutely did not. And even if Shanahan hadn't improved the total DVOA as much, at least Shanahan's improvements would have been sustainable. McDaniels improved the defensive DVOA by signing the oldest starting secondary in NFL history (and a bunch of other over-the-hill defensive veterans). That's nice for 2009, but it hardly helps the team going forward. Once those players age out of the league (which they'll do any minute now), Denver's in the same boat it was in in 2008... only without a dominant offense to bail them out.

by BJR :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 2:39pm

Hang on, if you believe the situation was that rosy shouldn't you be directing at least some of your anger towards the owner who fired the head coach that created that situation?

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:05am

Whoever said I wasn't directing any of my anger at Pat Bowlen? I think Pat Bowlen didn't just screw the pooch when he fired Shanahan, he invited the pooch out to dinner afterwards, got drunk, and wound up proposing to the pooch, as well. Ludicrously idiotic move, in my opinion, since the team was trending upward (remember that young/talented offensive nucleus? Keep that intact and simple regression to the mean on defense would have taken the Broncos to 10 wins). Seriously, Denver's 8 wins that season matched the number of RBs they went through, which is saying something. And even if he was dead-set on firing Shanahan... hiring an offensive minded coach with no prior experience and only 2 years as a coordinator? Dumb, dumb, dumb. When Indy was looking for a coach, they hired a defensive guru who was willing to leave the offense well enough alone. They provided the model. All Bowlen had to do was follow it. Hell, even a retread like Greg Williams or Jim Haslett would have been a better hire than McDaniels in my mind... and that's saying something. Or, better yet, give Shanahan one more year and then try to entice Cowher out of retirement.

With all of that said, while I'm angry at Bowlen and think he screwed up, that anger is tempered to an extreme degree by the fact that the Broncos have been to 5 Superbowls and 7 AFC Championship Games under his stewardship. Denver's not had a top-10 draft pick in two decades now. Denver's one of the winningest franchises in the league since he took over. I cut Pat Bowlen more slack than I cut Josh McDaniels because, quite honestly, what has Josh McDaniels ever done for me as a Broncos fan?

by tunesmith :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:21am

You're a Broncos fan?

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 11:15am

Obviously subtext doesn't translate over the internet. Did you mean that in an "I never realized that you were a fan of the Broncos" sense, or in an "I can't believe you can call yourself a fan after all that vitriol you've directed at them" sense?

If the former, then yeah, I've been a Broncos fan all my life. If the latter... like I said, I've been a Broncos fan all my life. I'm allowed to be dissatisfied with the direction of the team.

by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 11:38am

The way contract values keep increasing, isn't it almost always a good deal to lock up a league average-or-better player for six years at current market value? This is of course contingent on the age and position making it likely they'll play out the contract at a similar level (28-year old RG: yes, 28-year old RB: no), but if that's the case, wouldn't we expect he'll be slightly overpaid in year 1, paid about the right amount in years 2-3, and underpaid in years 4-6 (since by then you probably won't be able to get a replacement level guard for $5mil/yr)?

by Nathan :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 12:46pm

very good point

by Anonymus (not verified) :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 1:17pm

I think McDanials has made some very good decisions, and this is one of them. I also think Cutler has been way overrated.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 2:20pm

I would've done the very same thing. For a lot of the same reasons Jeff M. mentions.

by will farnaby (not verified) :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 8:42pm

I don't really understand where, on the field, McDaniels has shown he's a bad coach:

Broncos 2008: -6.5 DVOA
Broncos 2009: 11.9 DVOA

Traded Cutler for Orton, and improved by 18.4%. But that was all Mike Nolan...

When he was offensive coordinator for the Patriots (2005-2008), their offensive DVOA was
2005: 7
2006: 4
2007: 1
2008: 8 (w/ Cassell starting for the first time since HS)

Sure, hate on his personnel moves, but you can't knock the track record.

And IF McD is right on Tebow and his other offensive draft picks (pretty big IF, I know), the Broncos may have a pretty incredible offense in 2 or 3 years.

We'll see

by Theo :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 9:29pm

Sure it's going to be fun to compare the Broncos and the Bears for a while.

McD likes to throw his poop around, we'll see if he's smart about it.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 7:49pm

"On the field", 2-8 ring a bell?

by Bobman :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 11:14pm

I'm just trying to figure out what the hell a "dosh" is....

I know Barnwell is a New Englandy kind of guy, so I re-read all my Nathaniel Hawthorne (My God! Rev Dimmsdale was the father of Hester Prynne's baby? Why'd I never finish that book in HS??) Anyway, could find no mention of dosh. But got some good reading in, so, thanks, Bill....

by Bobman :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 12:59pm

Thanks. I guess I'll stop wasting my time with suburbandictionary.com. Just thumbing through is sleep-inducing. "rugby practice," followed by "SAT prep," "sleep-over," and "soccer mom"....

by dmb :: Sat, 06/05/2010 - 11:21pm

Come on, Bobman! At least be decent enough to warn us all with a "SPOILER ALERT!"

by Bobman :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 12:55pm

Sorry, my bad.

FYI, in Moby Dick, another New Englandy tome in which "dosh" is specifically excluded, the REDACTED wins in the end.

"Dosh theee, white beast. I will dosh theee with my doshing harpoon, you doshing mother-dosher. I'll cram it so doshing far up your dosh that you'll wish you were doshed..."

Now I know why it was censored.

by dmb :: Tue, 06/08/2010 - 2:22pm

Dammit! I hate REDACTED!

by Jimmy :: Sun, 06/06/2010 - 9:48am

When you asked what dosh was I went and looked for a youtube clip of Doctorin the Tardis where the Dalek screams 'DOSH DOSH DOSH DOSH DOSH DOSH LOADSAMONEY!' (not sure how much of this you will be following) but that clip I found doesn't have it very clearly. I did however find a load of old KLF videos and have spent a happy half hour listening to some great songs from my youth. Tammy Wynette singing about Mu Mu Land might be the greatest thing ever recorded (and totally justified).

I guess time is eternal after all.

by Brendan Scolari :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 3:34pm

I was in the same boat, I guess it's a New England thing...

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 4:28pm

I'm from New England. I have never heard anyone use the word "dosh" in conversation.

its a barnwell thing.

by Nathan :: Mon, 06/07/2010 - 4:29pm