A few years ago, a hot young assistant cashed in his inheritance from working with the best head coach and quarterback, and went to become a head coach ahead of his time. He traveled to the distant mountainous land of Denver, where he immediately squandered the good will that most young coaches are afforded with his arrogance. He traded off the quarterback, wanting the guy he had previously worked with. He jettisoned the head ache at wide receiver. Oh, and he drafted another quarterback in the first round, Tim Tebow, who was largely thought of as a project who would not be able to contribute as a passer because of his throwing motion.
When all of his good will ran out, after a videotaping scandal (I picture McDaniels screaming “I learned it from you, Dad!” when confronted by Belicheck), after lots of losses following a favorable start, he left for St. Louis as offensive coordinator. He ended up feeding with backup hogs when his offensive line was injured, and the Rams wallowed to the worst offense in the league.
So now, McDaniels comes back to New England, allowed back in with open arms as Bill O’Brien is set to depart. He officially starts with his old organization just as his former team, the Denver Broncos, is set to return in the playoffs. That team, of course, is led by his prodigy, the player he drafted earlier than anyone expected.
Tebow, of course, has some of those flaws that everyone worried about. The slow delivery, the hesitation in the pocket when forced to go through progressions, and the inconsistency that results in a low completion percentage. He also has the mental toughness to keep working, and to make plays down the field and with his legs.
What do we make of McDaniels? and how much is the view of his decision to Tebow still in flux even as we recover from Tebow’s best game as a professional?
On the one hand, Tebow has had some successes. On the other hand, it has come by adapting an offense to something McDaniels has never shown an inkling of designing, and something so unrelated to what he developed with New England as to seem foreign. It also seems troublesome to credit a former coach for not doing enough with similar personnel. The Broncos were a train wreck last year; Fox, while conservative to a fault, has certainly stabilized the organization within a year.
So now the next chapter in the McDaniels-Tebow saga comes in New England. McDaniels can look like a bit more of a genius, even temporarily, but it might have to come at the expense of a big game from the prodigy of the prodigal son.
[photo via Getty]