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The Mystery of Josh McDaniels' Playbook

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 1:  Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens speaks with head coach Josh McDaniels of the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on November 1, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images
Rick OliverCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2010

Ever since Josh McDaniels was hired as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, there has been one constant. 

The players have changed.

Jay Cutler was dumped for Kyle Orton, Brandon Marshal for someone to be named later, and someone I do not remember for Brian Dawkins. The turnover has been nearly unprecedented. I only say nearly unprecedented because I am too lazy to check and see if there is a precedent. A more careless writer would have gone whole hog and called it unprecedented.

The coaches too have changed. In with Mike Nolan, nope, I mean out with Mike Nolan. Jeremy Bates gone and hello to—McCoy? Even Rick Dennison and Bobby Turner, guys who had been around for years—gone!

It is hard to tell who is coming and who is going.

No, the one constant is that everyone talks about McDaniels' playbook. It is complex and takes multiple seasons to learn. The playbook is thick and complicated. You can’t expect this offense to be perfected in one offseason. It is far beyond our comprehension.

Orton was the perfect fit because he was smart; so is Brady Quinn. Tim Tebow was drafted because he is so smart and a tireless worker to boot, but even he cannot be expected to master the multifaceted and intricate McDaniels' offense in his first year.

I have just one question. Has anyone actually seen the playbook? How big is it? Is it Big Chief Tablet big, or is it just on lots of sheets of regular paper? Yes, I can count and I realize I just asked three questions when I promised one, but I really have lots of questions about it.

How do we know it is so complicated? It didn’t look too complicated when the Ravens stuffed us all game long last year. The Broncos only scored 10 points on the Steelers, and no one scored less than that against the Steelers all year. The Browns played the Steelers twice and scored more both times—talk about perplexing.

Maybe it is written in a strange language and all we have to do is eachtay hetay layerpays igpay atinlay.  That is Pig Latin for those who may have missed it—a language the Ravens speak fluently.

How do we know it isn’t just a bunch of stick figures scribbled on a stack of index cards? It may not be a book at all.

Maybe he has recorded it on eight-track tapes and the reason no one can figure it out is because they don’t have a 1978 Chevy station wagon with an eight-track tape player. Nothing that a trip to the junkyard can’t fix.

All I know is, until I have actually seen the playbook, I am tired of talking about how complicated it is. I suppose in lieu of seeing the playbook, I would settle for seeing the results translated into more than eight wins.

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