It gives me a small measure of pride that the Colts seemingly played a significant part in the break-up of the short-lived Josh McDaniels-Mike Nolan marriage in Denver.
It's no secret that THE reason the Broncos won anything last year was because of their defense. Josh McDaniels is an offensive coach, and when he was (mistakenly) hired as Denver's new head man he hired former 49ers coach Mike Nolan to run the defense. The coaching set-up was McDaniels ran the offense and did next to nothing with the defense. That was Nolan's territory.
When the Broncos started the 2009 season going 6-0, their defense was ranked #1 in the NFL, surrendering 11 points-per-game. Meanwhile, their offense was scoring 22 ppg, which is not "bad," but it was certainly not setting the world on fire.
After Denver's bye week, the team lost four games in a row, and ended the year losing 8 of 10. However, the real landslide with the Broncos occurred during Week Fourteen against the Colts. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, players say the the rift between McDaniels and Nolan turned into the Grand Canyon during that game.
From Klis, via PFT:
As I was told by several players, the beginning of the end for Nolan was the Indianapolis Colts' game — the 13th of the season. To review, the Broncos carried an 8-4 record into that game, having won their last two. McDaniels won the coin toss, deferred, and then Peyton Manning put the Colts up 21-0 after three possessions.
During that 21-0 blitzkrieg, Nolan called some plays — particularly the run-blitz — that McDaniels didn't like. The hostile way McDaniels handled that communication breakdown was not well-received by Nolan. A month and four consecutive losses later, Nolan and McDaniels mutually agreed to part ways, without much comment.
Klis goes on to say that Denver's new defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, will be more "obedient" to McDaniels. Seriously? "Obedient?" He's a coach, not a dog.
I've made no secret about my utter disdain for Josh McDaniels. Denver made a big mistake hiring the guy, as evidenced by the team's collapse following their bye week. The Broncos should have hired former Colts defensive assistant Leslie Frazier, who was a finalist for the job with McDaniels in 2009. Frazier has done wonders for the Minnesota Vikings defense since he took over for Mike Tomlin in 2007. So, it is with a certain measure of pride that, according to Klis, it was the Colts that exposed another one of McDaniels' petty little "dictator moments." Since he was named head coach in Denver, McDaniels has run out of town the franchise QB, the franchise's best wide receiver, and now his hand-picked defensive coordinator. He's replaced them with people who are not necessarily more talented, but are seemingly more "obedient."
But, hey... I'm not going to complain about Denver continuing to weaken their team. I just feel a bit sorry for Leslie Frazier and for Broncos fans. Frazier deserved that job over McDaniels, and Broncos owner Pay Bowlen was stupid to pick yet another over-rated New England assistant to run an NFL franchise.