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One story behind Mike Nolan's Denver departure

Mike Nolan’s exit from Denver to Miami to take another defensive coordinator job was one of the more surprising coaching moves of the offseason.

We didn’t get much explanation from either side about the mutual parting, but a handful of players told the Denver Post they know when the beginning of the end started for Nolan in Denver.

It was Week Fourteen, and the 8-4 Broncos traveled to Indianapolis.  Peyton Manning staked the Colts to a 21-0 lead in three possessions, and coach Josh McDaniels reportedly wasn’t pleased with Nolan’s run-blitz calls.

The hostile way McDaniels handled that
communication breakdown was not well-received by Nolan,” Mike Klis writes.

(I remember the game well.  The Broncos cut the lead to 21-16 during the fourth quarter.)

Perhaps Nolan was too accustomed to being the alpha dog after a stint as the 49ers head coach.  Still, it’s surprising that a coach so used to barking at players wouldn’t accept a little in-game tongue-lashing from his boss.

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48 Responses to “One story behind Mike Nolan's Denver departure”
  1. FinFan says: Jun 3, 2010 11:07 AM

    …or working with a overgrown ‘CHILD’

  2. FFSentinel.com says: Jun 3, 2010 11:09 AM

    McDaniels is a jackass. He seems to think that he has the same credentials as Bellichick.

  3. Mike Daly says: Jun 3, 2010 11:09 AM

    The reality is neither Nolan nor McDaniels know what they’re doing. McDaniels worsened the Shanahan habit of the team collapsing and then quitting on the coach at the end of the year.

  4. karmathaitch says: Jun 3, 2010 11:13 AM

    Cant get mad at Nolan. He didn’t have sh*t to work with

  5. mrcmos says: Jun 3, 2010 11:15 AM

    I’m glad the Pack hired Dom instead of Nolan. I can see good things for the packer ‘D’ this season.

  6. downwithdansnyder says: Jun 3, 2010 11:15 AM

    It’s different getting a tongue lashing from someone you respect vs. someone you don’t. Maybe that ties into it.

  7. LL Live says: Jun 3, 2010 11:16 AM

    FinFan: same problem mangina had/has

  8. boleyn9 says: Jun 3, 2010 11:20 AM

    McDaniels and the Broncos are the AFC version of the Redskins the past two years. New coach and a quick start only for the rest of the league to catch onto what the team is doing. From there, just as the Skins did in 2008, collapse down the stretch finishing 8-8. I look for Denver to be just about as bad as Washington was last year. Denver hires a new coach come 2011.
    Fist pump that, McDaniels, you jack@$$!

  9. thegoldengod says: Jun 3, 2010 11:22 AM

    The best offense in the NFL over the past 10 years is scoring on us…boo fricking hoo. And now the Broncos best asset is out of town. Blame who you want, but that team would be drafting in the top 5 if Nolan wasn’t coaching there last season. Miami got a deal…

  10. Jack Factor says: Jun 3, 2010 11:22 AM

    Mike Nolan is a poser – besides inheriting his father’s last name and players that were amazing in Baltimore – he has not done squat.
    I recall the old article by San Jose Mercury News columnist Ann Killion. In that article she mentioned Nolan’s stint with the Redskins and their owner Daniel Snyder.
    Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, the story goes, placed a carton of vanilla ice cream in Nolan’s office, where it was allowed to melt into a sticky mess. The mean-spirited prank underscored the owner’s criticism of his defensive coordinator’s read-and-react philosophy, which Snyder had termed “vanilla.”

  11. NagaSwan says: Jun 3, 2010 11:23 AM

    Josh McDaniels = Jim Zorn

  12. Mrsteve says: Jun 3, 2010 11:24 AM

    Nolan’s D had them 6-0
    McDaniels attitude made them 8-8
    Bigger collapse than the one that got Shannahan fired
    Broncos owner blew it on this one

  13. youdontsay says: Jun 3, 2010 11:24 AM

    Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. McDaniel’s isn’t a good communicator; given the number of people who’ve deflected to other teams. I think he’s a bright guy with a good football mind (his father was a good coach) and also was tutored by one of the best (Belichick) but he’s still young and immature. I mean, Nolan has a reputation as one of the best defensive coach’s in the league so why talk done to him. Grow up Josh!

  14. StevieMo says: Jun 3, 2010 11:25 AM

    McDaniels thinks he’s Vince Lombardi. His ego is bigger than the whole outdoors….

  15. guffman44 says: Jun 3, 2010 11:26 AM

    Didn’t appreciate the tongue lashing, eh? Well, the head coach is your boss. Whether you think he’s competent or not, you take it or quit. Nolan did the latter. Nothing wrong with what McDaniels did.

  16. milehiclown says: Jun 3, 2010 11:29 AM

    Mike Nolan was fired by the 49ers FOR A REASON.
    And who is the turd that thinks Bailey and Dawkins and Dumervill “aren’t squat”? Talk about being a jackass.

  17. dare2bme says: Jun 3, 2010 11:29 AM

    Come on, people. Stop harping on the Belichick connection. McDaniels has, on MANY occassions says that he learned how to coach from Bill, but NEVER that he considers himself to BE Bill, or even a desire to be. He models himself after that style.
    This is no different from anyone that came out of the Bill Walsh coaching tree. They have all modelled they coaching careers after Bill Walsh – once again, never claiming to BE Bill.
    Most of us, if we have a mentor at all, are striving to become and/or surpass the person who mentors us. Right? Why should that be different for McD? It shouldn’t, and it won’t be.
    The fact that the Bill B coaching tree has bore no fruit (yet) could be a very telling representation of Belichick’s flaws as a coach/mentor, but it is NOT an indictment of McD. He has an opportunity to show that the tree has at least one good apple.
    There’s got to be some common thread to the unprecedented, epic Broncos collapses, year after year, and to attribute that to the head coach is at least reasonable. I, like many Broncos fans, expected little last year. However, the disappointment of the second half of the year should not completely overshadow the unexpected success of the early season.
    Can McD find a way to win late in the year and bring the Broncos back to prominence? We’ll have to wait and see. No matter what, I believe McD’s non-traditional attitude and enthusiasm will remain polarizing – but are NOTHING LIKE his mentor.

  18. youdontsay says: Jun 3, 2010 11:30 AM

    RE: @ Jack Factor says:
    Yea, like Dan Snyder is a football guru. Talk about meltdowns – Snyder is such a fraud. Money doesn’t buy you football intelligence. The Redskins have great fans but are saddled with a boneheaded owner.

  19. Citizen Strange says: Jun 3, 2010 11:38 AM

    McDaniels is in over his head. He likes to act like he knows something that nobody else knows but he runs off his two very best players in Cutler and Marshall and his ace defensive coordinator and then he turns around and drafts Tim Tebow in the first round?
    My predicition — The McDaniels led Broncos PEAKED last year at 8-8 and couldn’t make the playoffs in a division that included the woeful Raiders and Chiefs.
    The Broncos will continue to suck in 2010 and again in 2011 and then McDaniels will mercifully (for Bronco fans) be fired.

  20. BearMan54 says: Jun 3, 2010 11:46 AM

    Thats an insult to Jim Zorn

  21. SATAN567 says: Jun 3, 2010 11:53 AM

    @ Mike Daly, YOU are the one who doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Get off the site. What kind of name is Daly anyway? You smoke a carton a day while drinking an 18-case of Natty Light and a fifth of Ezra Brooks? Trash.

  22. alldawayturntup says: Jun 3, 2010 11:58 AM

    mcdaniels sucks.
    this gu y is an overgrown baby.
    cant wait to see both him AND tebow fail.

  23. Tyler says: Jun 3, 2010 11:58 AM

    That was a great game by Nolan. Manning struggled a lot.

  24. Youpeoplehereareallmorons says: Jun 3, 2010 12:08 PM

    Thanks McD for being an idiot and letting your two best assests on your team last year Mike Nolan and Bradon Marshall go and have them come to Miami. We here in Miami appreciate your stupidity. Mike Nolan most underratted pick up of the offseason for any team.

  25. Bobby Bushay says: Jun 3, 2010 12:23 PM

    Isn’t McDaniels and Lane Kiffin related to one another?

  26. rusH1023 says: Jun 3, 2010 12:30 PM

    # guffman44 says: June 3, 2010 11:26 AM
    Didn’t appreciate the tongue lashing, eh? Well, the head coach is your boss. Whether you think he’s competent or not, you take it or quit. Nolan did the latter. Nothing wrong with what McDaniels did.
    ________________________________
    Exactly. Fans forget (or ignore) the fact that they only get 20 percent of the story, yet comment like they were there for the whole thing.
    “McDaniels is an idiot with an ego. Fail!”
    “Nolan is riding his fathers coattails and runs a vanilla defense.”
    Dumbasses.

  27. Jeremy F says: Jun 3, 2010 12:33 PM

    I love McDaniels haters… always going on and on about how he doesn’t know what he’s doing…. haha… makes me laugh…
    what makes me laugh you might ask?..
    the fact that these haters actually think they know how to run an NFL franchise… it’s freakin hilarious!!!!!
    It’s laughable at best when I hear the same stupid comments from these people…
    Here are some examples:
    “McDaniels is a jackass. He seems to think that he has the same credentials as Bellichick.”
    “McDaniels attitude made them 8-8″
    “Fist pump that, McDaniels, you jack@$$!”
    I guess I really can’t fault these people for their close minded, uneducated views… it takes more brain power and energy to think positive thoughs than it does negative ones…

  28. Cecil says: Jun 3, 2010 12:37 PM

    McDaniels sux robble robble Mike Nolan is the bestest robble robble Brandon Marshall robble robble.
    /What every Broncos thread sounds like. You people need to get new material. And I think it’s funny how many of you are making the Zorn/McDaniels comparison…a day after Peter King did. Keep nodding, bobbleheads.

  29. stampats says: Jun 3, 2010 12:44 PM

    Count me as another non-believer in Nolan…. Guy got way too much credit for a already made defense in Baltimore… When he was with the Jetsm the players like Brian Cox actually had to teach him the defense – he was hardly useful…

  30. MosesZD says: Jun 3, 2010 12:46 PM

    First, Nolan “failed” in SF because of the turnover at OC, culminating in hiring Mike Martz.
    Martz’ stupidity with JT (just turnovers) O’Sullivan as a starting (ROTFLMAO) QB was priceless. Add in Martz’s refusal to use Vernon Davis (who was clearly breaking out in 2007 (finished 9th as a TE)…. And under-utilizing Frank Gore, the 49ers bell cow…
    Well, that showing put the nail in Nolan’s coffin. Not the defense which was improving and, even with Martz’ craziness sabotaging the 49ers in the early part of the season, it was still clear that the team was definitely on the upswing.
    Well, but for Martz and his pet project.
    But, this is the NFL and you win or you are fired. And so Nolan was fired because, as the head coach, it doesn’t matter if your OC is the reason you’re losing games. It only matters that you’re losing.
    As a DC, Nolan’s pretty good. If it weren’t for Nolan’s magic in Denver, they’d have been 4-12, or worse, in one of the two weakest divisions in the NFL.
    To put it in perspective, Football Outsiders had the Broncos ranked 31st in defense during 2008. Under Nolan, that cast of scrubs and cast-offs managed to get to 7th.
    OTOH, under McKnownothing, Denver’s offense dropped from 2nd to 18th. Clearly because of his many stupid decisions regarding players and play calling.
    So, if Nolan quit because a clearly over-his-head, wet-behind-the-ears self-destructive coach was pointing fingers at Nolan… When McKnownothing is, in fact, the problem in Denver…
    Well, good for Nolan. He needs to rebuild his reputation and that means he’s needs to keep away from idiots in love with their press clippings.

  31. runamuckandeasyatyahoo says: Jun 3, 2010 1:00 PM

    Shanny was a great offensive coach, who should have lost his GM position with Denver but never have been fired as the coach. The Broncos then bring in a new GM who hires a Defensive coordinator (maybe Nolan) and they would still have Cutler, Marshal, Scheffler and a playoff prayer! McDoofus is destroying the team. Don’t forget that he ran off Nolan -a defensive coordinator who who took a bunch of nobody’s on defense and took them from like the 25th ranked defense to about the 10th. Mcdoofus also traded away all there good offensive players! He traded away one of his 1st round picks from the Cutler deal to get back in the 2nd round and draft CB Alphonso Smith. A 5’8″ slow 4.5 guy who couldn’t even play the nickel last year!! Short and slow–lets trade up for that??WTF ?And this year he trades up to get Tebow in the 1st round. I live in Denver but I’m a Dolphin fan! Mcdoofus in Denver is the best thing to ever happy to Miami/Chicago/and Detroit. I just hope Miami can steal Dumervil or Bailey before Pat Bowlen realizes he hired a retard as a coach. Hey maybe the Dolphins can trade Jason Allen straight across for one or the other. McDaniels seems to have a thing for Miami’s old back field.

  32. realitypolice says: Jun 3, 2010 1:01 PM

    Still, it’s surprising that a coach so used to barking at players wouldn’t accept a little in-game tongue-lashing from his boss.
    ======================
    Maybe he couldn’t get over the fact that his boss was younger than some of the players Nolan used to bark at. Or that his boss acted less mature than most of the players Nolan used to bark at.

  33. Sourdough says: Jun 3, 2010 1:08 PM

    Aint it grand to see the Donkos organization in the tank! How horrified will Donko fans be when they, gasp, finish behind the Raiders this season!?! McClueless is in waaaay over his head.

  34. lolcopter says: Jun 3, 2010 1:29 PM

    Mcdaniels will make the playoffs before cutler

  35. rx says: Jun 3, 2010 1:52 PM

    For the last freaking time…Ryan Clady and Champ Bailey are/were the Broncos two best players. Get it through your thick freaking skulls. WRs are always (ALWAYS) expendable (and NEVER worth $50 mill) and Cutler was a headcase. End of story

  36. chhutson27 says: Jun 3, 2010 1:57 PM

    Nolan did something right obviously.. He took one of the worst defenses in the history of the league, and made them a top 10 unit at the beginning of last year. Then the offense forgot the ability to gain a yard, and Denver collapsed. I can’t stand McDaniels. If the guy was such a great QB coach, why didn’t he ever teach Orton to throw to someone other than Marshall?

  37. iusedtobeteddybayer says: Jun 3, 2010 2:00 PM

    @youdontsay:
    Coaches and players don’t deflect!to other teams. But then you were absent the days they taught English.

  38. HC says: Jun 3, 2010 2:00 PM

    I Nolan can’t handle McDaniels yelling at him, he won’t know what hit him if/when he does something Parcells doesn’t like.

  39. chhutson27 says: Jun 3, 2010 2:01 PM

    and dare2beme, I really believe McDaniels thinks he’s Bill Belichick. As soon as NE lets someone walk, Denver pounces on them. We even got rid of our longtime snapper, for NE snapper. Many people held that Mike Leach was one of the best in the league, yet we throw out him for NE’s castoff. I’m sorry…. I love my Broncos and I will till I die, but I am sick of the Denver Patriots after only one season, and I’m sick of the Boy Wonder.

  40. Riverdog says: Jun 3, 2010 2:02 PM

    As a Dolphin fan living in Florida I feel your pain. So much of what I’m reading here is what we were writing a few years ago. We are hoping things are now going in the correct direction.
    It is hard to understand what McD. is doing in your neck of the woods, that’s for sure. My advice for you is to hang in there, and to the future. It will do you no good to keep going back and bringing up the past with Shanahan. He is gone, and he is not coming back. It make little sense in talking about him any longer.
    Fans down here are still talking about being undefeated years and years ago, like that is going to help the team we now have. Give it a rest.
    One thing though to those of you that want to drink the kool aid that’s fine, but do the rest of your fellow fans a favor. Don’t forget to take your blinders off every now and then.

  41. thefloater says: Jun 3, 2010 2:09 PM

    Stupid comment.
    Nolan was the only reason McDaniels got to that 8-4 start. Idiot.

  42. acerf32 says: Jun 3, 2010 3:08 PM

    Yeah, why didn’t we hire Nolan as the head coach??
    Oh, that’s right….. We want to build the next dynasty (ala New England Patriots). I’ll take a hoodie and wins anyday over a suit that has never succeeded.
    It seems to me that it’s obvious that Nolan got sensitive about the fact a kid with no respect for proper attire has the audacity to talk down to him.
    The proof is in the pudding though. Which team are defensive players jumping ship? Looks like all the players are going to Denver. Nobody is leaving Denver for Miami. If he’s so great somebody has to leave Denver’s defense to play for Miami’s. Right?????????

  43. FFSentinel.com says: Jun 3, 2010 3:32 PM

    Jeremy F says: June 3, 2010 12:33 PM
    I love McDaniels haters… always going on and on about how he doesn’t know what he’s doing…. haha… makes me laugh…
    what makes me laugh you might ask?..
    the fact that these haters actually think they know how to run an NFL franchise… it’s freakin hilarious!!!!!
    It’s laughable at best when I hear the same stupid comments from these people…
    Here are some examples:
    “McDaniels is a jackass. He seems to think that he has the same credentials as Bellichick.”
    “McDaniels attitude made them 8-8″
    “Fist pump that, McDaniels, you jack@$$!”
    I guess I really can’t fault these people for their close minded, uneducated views… it takes more brain power and energy to think positive thoughs than it does negative ones…
    —————————————————
    Tim TeBlow says both he and you and McDaniels are blessed. Hope that faith get you through another average at best season.

  44. acerf32 says: Jun 3, 2010 3:34 PM

    @thegoldengod
    Think before you type, and try to know something about the subject you are talking about. I believe you meant to say that Seattle would have been drafting top 5.
    How the Broncos did last season had no bearing on where we picked in the first round…. We traded that away for Alphonso Smith.

  45. spliffbunker says: Jun 3, 2010 5:13 PM

    Tyler says:
    June 3, 2010 11:58 AM
    That was a great game by Nolan. Manning struggled a lot.
    ……………………………………..
    I was impressed by the D against the Colts that day…I remember too well the Broncos being outscored 66-6 in the first half of 2 playoff games
    & Manning looked every bit as sharp early in that game which is to say unstoppable
    they could have folded down 21-0 but they got 3 picks & cut the lead to 21-16 and Manning was 13 for 29 after going 9 of 13 to start
    McD may have had a point in his criticism but at some point people have to disagree without burning bridges
    just read a really good book about the Ravens 2005 season & Nolan went off on the OC Cavanaugh in the press box,was totally out of line & apologized the next day
    lots of good people have left the Broncos in the last year because of clashes & many of those should have & could have been kept in house
    there are always going to be heated moments & disagreements on any team…but there is a professional way of handling them

  46. Brewster says: Jun 3, 2010 11:37 PM

    Reading between the lines of Mike Klis’s comments:
    As I was told by several players, the beginning of the end for Nolan was the Indianapolis Colts’ game — the 13th of the season. To review, the Broncos carried an 8-4 record into that game, having won their last two.
    >>>> Those several players have already been traded, or soon will be.
    McDaniels won the coin toss, deferred, and then Peyton Manning put the Colts up 21-0 after three possessions. During that 21-0 blitzkrieg, Nolan called some plays — particularly the run-blitz — that McDaniels didn’t like.
    >>>>>Well some would say the first mistake was made by McDaniels by deferring. After Manning put the Colts up by 21, McDaniels looked more stupider (that’s only a word when used in the same sentence as McDaniels) than usual and was pissed at everyone but himself. I wonder if Nolan didn’t like the call by McDaniels to defer?
    The hostile way McDaniels handled that communication breakdown was not well-received by Nolan. A month and four consecutive losses later, Nolan and McDaniels mutually agreed to part ways, without much comment.
    >>>>>>>>>>So Lil Joshy McEmperor can’t get along with players with big egos or successful Coaches either. Without Nolan, as others have observed, the Broncos most likely would have been about 4-12 last year.
    In Martindale, McDaniels figures to have a more obedient defensive coordinator without losing much aggressiveness.
    >>>>Brilliant! Josh has done such an outstanding job with the Offense, which is supposed to be his area of strength, that now he’s going to oversee the Defense too. Hopefully that will work out better than his handling of the Offense, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
    Martindale’s background, after all, is rooted in the Buddy-Rex-Rob Ryan defensive school of attack, attack, attack.
    >>>>>What difference does it make if he’s going to be obedient to Josh who has less experience on D than Martindale does?
    Far more important than the switch of defensive coordinators, however, is the Broncos’ new set of defensive linemen. The front three additions of nose tackle Jamal Williams and five-technique defensive ends Justin Bannan and Jarvis Green is why Denver’s D this season should be improved from the way it finished in 2009.
    >>>>>>>Wow, Klis way to set the bar high. Better finish than 2009, so if they win 3 games this year that is an improvement on their 2-8 finish last year.
    Klis must think Broncos fans are so dumb they can’t translate that comment into Wins-Losses. And there is no guarantee, nor any good reason to believe that with so many new players on the D-line and new coaches that this year’s Defense will be improved over last year’s. Nor is the Broncos handling of the Dumervil contract situation a positive aspect among Bronco players. It could be a really painful year to be a Bronco fan.

  47. Al Davis' 40 Time says: Jun 4, 2010 11:57 AM

    Mrsteve says:
    June 3, 2010 11:24 AM
    Nolan’s D had them 6-0
    McDaniels attitude made them 8-8
    Bigger collapse than the one that got Shannahan fired
    Broncos owner blew it on this one
    ———————
    Apparently you didn’t read the article.
    McDaniels was probably tired of the countless blown DB blitzes. I think the Giants, Redskins, Jets, Ravens, and Niners all felt the same way too.
    Just take a look at Nolan’s career. I’ve had shits last longer than his stints.
    Nolan think’s he’s a genius, but he has nothing really to show for it, even as a coordinator. Knock McDaniels all you want, but his young career has been much more succesful than Nolan’s.

  48. effthaeffinjetsgofins says: Jan 16, 2011 2:17 AM

    lolcopter says:
    Jun 3, 2010 1:29 PM
    Mcdaniels will make the playoffs before cutler

    Well don’t you look stupid now? ;)

    It’s fun going back and seeing these preseason comments after the season.

    (All in good fun)

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