Hurt You (Album Version) - The Sounds
Now we all know I like Josh McDaniels. Really, I think he's the best new coach of the entire class, and has a proven track record of innovation and adaptation on offense. Furthermore, with the receiving corps he's being given in Denver, there's no reason to think he couldn't establish the same kind of multilevel assault game plan that he perfected in New England. So it's no small thing for me to have come to the following realization: Denver needs to fire Josh McDaniels. Now. Before they scrap a season that should have been about redefining the team's identity around the very player that McDaniels has managed to alientate, Jay Cutler.
For those of you not keeping track of the news, there is a rumor going around that Cutler's agent, Bus Cook, was in Buffalo recently, spurring rumors that Buffalo may be looking for some sort of trade package that would send the most talented quarterback of the 2006 draft class to Buffalo. The fact that we're all talking about this as though it was realistic is indicative of the problem; McDaniels has allowed the situation to spin into this kind of absurdity. There was one move to be made with Cutler, and even that one was a shameful retreat from faith to comfort. After it failed, McDaniels owed it to Cutler to apologize, to explain that he was as interested in the young signal caller's development as both Cutler and the team itself were. Instead, McDaniels has showed the sort of rigidity that his supposed mentor, Belichick, exposed as unnecessary and a liability.
So in order for the story of Denver to continue in the way that allows the league to become a more interesting place, McDaniels must go. After all, he's young, and this kind of firing would be one that spared his track record so that he could quickly land someplace else when another opportunity inevitably opened up. For Cutler, however, the next two years are the turning point of his story, where he develops from child prodigy in Elway's mold to master in his own right. Meanwhile, an offense built around Chris Simms (or worse, the painfully stoic gameplay of Trent Edwards), thriving on system over talent and turning its players into interchangable cogs (a mold from which which New England only recently freed itself), does nothing for the league but make it more bland. There are coaches available for the job, and several that could shape Cutler into the destructive vertical cannon that he is so clearly made to be (of course, the best man for that job was fired from it already, but that's another story...). If McDaniels is unwilling to use his unique tools to perform that shaping, then he should necessarily be removed from Denver, where that task has, prior to the last two weeks, been at the forefront of everyone's mind.
In essence, we're exchanging only a bit of practicality for a great deal of natural progress. No matter how interesting we find a character (and again, I think McDaniels could be the next great step in coaching innovation), the premise of his belonging to a story requires him to act within the confines of that story. His failure to do so makes him no less valid as a character, but utterly worthless to the tale he chooses to defy. Cutler is still meant to help tell that tale. I'm not so sure about McDaniels anymore.