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The Denver Broncos have hired Mike Shanahan version 2.0 --another bright, young offensive mind.
Josh McDaniels, the Patriots' offensive coordinator, has agreed to become the Broncos' next coach, the team confirmed late Sunday night. The 32-year-old takes over for Shanahan, who was fired Dec. 30 after 14 seasons with three years and $21 million left on his contract.
McDaniels is known for his creative play calling and game plans — just like Shanahan when he took over the team in 1995 at the age of 42.
Shanahan, referred to as "The Mastermind," led the Broncos to Super Bowl crowns in 1997 and '98, but the team tumbled into mediocrity, winning just one playoff game in the decade since John Elway retired.
Denver went 8-8 this season and became the first team in NFL history to blow a three-game divisional lead with three weeks left, and Shanahan was fired 48 hours later.
McDaniels' stock has been soaring with the Patriots, where he's quickly ascended from personnel assistant in the scouting department to offensive coordinator for Bill Belichick.
Last season, under McDaniels' tutelage, Tom Brady threw for a record 50 touchdowns as the team went undefeated in the regular season before falling to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
McDaniels' reputation took on more luster when the Patriots lost Brady to a knee injury in the opener and Matt Cassel — a quarterback who hadn't started a game since high school — came on to lead the Patriots to an 11-5 record.
The cupboard won't be all that bare for McDaniels as he inherits a high-octane offense led by third-year quarterback Jay Cutler, who set several offensive team records in earning his first Pro Bowl nod in 2008.
However, McDaniels will be receiving a dismal defense in need of yet another overhaul.
That's why it was believed a defensive mind might have the inside track to the job, someone like the Giants' Steve Spagnuolo or the Vikings' Leslie Frazier.
The other candidates for Shanahan's job were Raheem Morris of Tampa Bay, Rick Dennison of Denver, Jason Garrett of Dallas and Todd Bowles of Miami.
The new coach won't have as much power as Shanahan, who had final authority on just about everything as vice president of football operations. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said he'll begin searching for a general manager after he hires his coach.
Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley was simultaneously watching an episode of "The Wire" on his DVD player and ESPN when the news scrolled across the bottom of his television Sunday night.
He's a bit shocked the Broncos suddenly have a new coach. He figured it would be later this week — at the earliest.
"It's going to be interesting to see what happens," Stokley said. "I hope we can keep some of our offensive coaches and keep the continuity that we built last year."
This program aired on January 12, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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