- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. | The Denver Broncos apparently turned from “The Mastermind” to “The Wunderkind.”

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels agreed to take over the Broncos, ESPN reported Sunday night. The network said the 32-year-old will be introduced as Denver’s new coach Monday.

The Broncos did not respond to phone messages and e-mails from the Associated Press seeking comment.

McDaniels would replace Mike Shanahan, who was fired Dec. 30 after 14 seasons with three years and $21 million left on his contract. He’s the only one of six NFL coaches to get fired by the team for which he won back-to-back Super Bowls.

The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News also reported the hiring on their Web sites.

The Broncos won it all in 1997 and 1998 but have slipped into mediocrity, winning just one playoff game in the decade since John Elway retired. McDaniels is a rising star who has spent his entire eight-year NFL coaching career in New England, where he worked his way up from personnel assistant in the scouting department to offensive coordinator for Bill Belichick.

Under his tutelage, Tom Brady threw for a record 50 touchdowns last season and the Patriots came within a whisker of the first 19-0 season in NFL history. McDaniels’ reputation grew ever larger this year when Brady was lost with a knee injury in the opener and Matt Cassel, who hadn’t started a game since high school, led the Patriots to an 11-5 record.

McDaniels would be the third member of Belichick’s coaching staff to become a head coach in the NFL, following Romeo Crennel with Cleveland in 2005 and Eric Mangini, who joined the Jets a year later. Both were fired this offseason, with Mangini replacing Crennel in Cleveland.

McDaniels was the second of seven candidates the Broncos’ brain trust interviewed. Owner Pat Bowlen, chief operating officer Joe Ellis and personnel chief Jim Goodman met with him in Rhode Island on Jan. 4; Goodman conducted a second, lengthy interview with him in the Boston area.

McDaniels would inherit an explosive offense that appears to be one healthy running back away from greatness and a dismal defense that needs an overhaul. That led many observers to believe defensive minds like the Giants’ Steve Spagnuolo or the Vikings’ Leslie Frazier had the inside track.

The other candidates were Raheem Morris of Tampa Bay, Rick Dennison of Denver, Jason Garrett of Dallas and Todd Bowles of Miami.

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