Josh McDaniels, 32, is a little younger than Shanahan but is a well-respected offensive mind coming from a franchise that had championship success. For McDaniels, he was offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. Shanahan came to Denver after guiding San Francisco's offense to a Super Bowl title.
Although hiring a defensive coach to fix the problems on that side of the ball made logical sense, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said he didn't want to pass up the chance to hire the talented McDaniels.
"The chance to hire this young man was very intriguing to me," Bowlen said.
McDaniels' first move was to hire former 49ers coach Mike Nolan as the team's new defensive coordinator, which should help. McDaniels also said even though he has an offensive background, he will have a say in repairing the defense.
"I'm a football coach and I want to have an opportunity to affect the kicking game, defense, offense, every phase of the game," McDaniels said. "My goal as the head coach is not just to improve the defense, it's to improve the team."
The good news for McDaniels is the Broncos have some pieces in place. They were 8-5 at one point last season before losing their final three, and the offense has some talent. McDaniels said he was struck by the culture of winning that Bowlen has cultivated through his quarter century as owner.
"This is an opportunity that doesn't come along very often," McDaniels said. "I know I'm coming to a place where winning is the most important thing."
Although McDaniels' youth could provide some benefits, such as connecting with the younger players, he is incredibly young. According to the Broncos, he is the fifth-youngest head coach at the time of hire in NFL history, and the youngest in the league. Bowlen said he had no problem with that and McDaniels didn't think it would be an issue.
"I've coached older players -- I don't think age is a factor," McDaniels said. "What they care about is what I'm saying and whether or not it's going to help them win."
--By hiring an offensive-minded coach, the Broncos opened up the door to more change among the assistants. New head coach Josh McDaniels said he will call plays, which leaves the future of Jeremy Bates in doubt. Bates had a good year calling plays last year but can find work elsewhere, and might.
Other offensive assistant coaches will be evaluated by McDaniels. The entire defensive staff might be different in 2009.
--Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said he is not planning to add a general manager. He wouldn't rule it out, but for the immediate future, vice president of football operations/player personnel Jim Goodman will have the final say in personnel matters.
"I don't intend to change the structure (of the front office)," Bowlen said.
--The player who should benefit most from McDaniels' hiring is quarterback Jay Cutler. McDaniels was at the helm in New England when Tom Brady and Matt Cassel had career years, and has done well using his spread formations.
"It is very quarterback friendly once you get to the point where you can use all the tools that it gives the quarterback," McDaniels said of his offense.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm ecstatic, I'm excited, I'm ready to introduce the new head coach of the Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels." -- Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, during McDaniels' introductory press conference.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
As new Broncos coach McDaniels put together his staff, it was apparent quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates wasn't going to be an ideal fit. Bates called the plays last season and was lauded for his ability calling the offense, but McDaniels confirmed right after he was hired that he would call the plays for Denver.
So despite being popular with the players, Bates left. He was hired to be Southern California's offensive coordinator, to replace Steve Sarkisian.
"As a unit, our offense became one of the most productive in the league with Jeremy calling plays," Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. "He brought a lot of excitement to the meeting room and on the field. He made me want to come to work every day and get better. Jeremy will do great things in his new role, and USC couldn't have picked a better guy."
Although McDaniels will call plays, Mike McCoy will be the team's new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. McCoy spent the past nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
The Broncos did retain two assistants that were integral in the team's success in the running game under Mike Shanahan: offensive line coach Rick Dennison and running backs coach Bobby Turner.
Among the other hires McDaniels made were Mike Priefer as special teams coordinator, Ed Donatell as secondary coach, Adam Gase as wide receivers coach and Wayne Nunnely as defensive line coach.
Nunnely comes from San Diego. The Chargers used a 3-4 defense, which Denver might also use under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
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