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McDaniels' long-term status up in air

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Alex Mayster

amayster@pfwmedia.com
Editorial assistant

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Posted Dec. 02, 2010 @ 1:36 p.m. ET
By Alex Mayster

With the status of Broncos coach Josh McDaniels still up in the air, team owner Pat Bowlen recently released two comments on the issue.

Originally, Bowlen told AOL Fanhouse that he was "not interested in making a change" and that McDaniels would return next season. But in a statement released by the team the next day, Bowlen said the Broncos would "continue to monitor the progress of the team and evaluate what's in the best interest of this franchise."

We hear the second statement was a public-relations move from the team, with Denver not wanting to lose the respect of the fans if they ultimately do make a change.

With a season-low attendance of 72,736 in their last home game against the Rams, and a lot less around at game's end, it is becoming clear the fans are fed up. The recent video scandal didn't help the matter.

A source close to the team said he knows Bowlen to be a straight talker, but if the Broncos continue to struggle down the stretch and suffer more embarrassing losses like the 59-14 Week Seven beating they took from the Raiders, all bets would be off.

We hear what may be more likely to happen than McDaniels being replaced is that the coach could be stripped of personnel responsibilities, or have his assistant coaches removed.

When McDaniels replaced Mike Shanahan in 2009, Bowlen said he would never again give a coach the type of power that Shanahan carried. But sure enough, McDaniels has stepped into a similar role, and poor personnel moves have been an issue.

The most glaring mistakes have been trading away RB Peyton Hillis, who has emerged this season with the Browns as one of the league's top backs and giving up a 2010 first-round draft pick to select CB Alphonso Smith, a second-round bust in ’09 whom the team traded to Detroit in early September.

The final decision on McDaniels' future will reveal the amount of involvement Bowlen has with the team. If McDaniels is retained, it will have a lot to do with chief operating officer Joe Ellis, who we hear was a large supporter of McDaniels during the hiring process.

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