Several weeks ago, while we were trying to sort out the division of authority in Denver, team spokesman Patrick Smyth told PFT that coach Josh McDaniels and G.M. Brian Xanders are expected to reach a consensus as to all personnel moves.
We asked Smyth who had the ability to break any ties, and Smyth said he didn’t know, and that it hadn’t happened.
With McDaniels now gone, Xanders is taking a different approach. He recently told the Associated Press that McDaniels had the ultimate power.
“The dynamics were he had final say on player personnel issues,” Xanders said. “I was respectful of that, and I was going to work under those parameters. We did our best to build our draft board and free-agency ranking lists and match the player personnel fits with scheme requirements we have.”
In other words, blame for the mess that is the team’s current roster falls directly on the fired coach’s shoulders. And in case you didn’t get the point the first time, Xanders made it again.
“We have a 17-person personnel staff that had been going through all those processes,” Xanders said. “But he had final say. I’ll just say I was respectful of the organizational setup.”
It’s possible that Xanders and McDaniels technically had shared responsibilities, but that McDaniels dominated the relationship in the same way many believe Browns coach Eric Mangini dominated the relationship with former G.M. George Kokinis. Thus, even if McDaniels didn’t actually have final say, as a practical matter he did.
Still, the fact that Xanders had gone on the record to distances himself from the bad moves that have been made over the past two years shows that Xanders realizes that he’s in grave danger. (Is there another kind?)
“Right now, everything’s uncertain until the end of the year,” Xanders said. “The organization’s going through a lot of change, and I hope I can be here. I love being with the Broncos, and we’ll see how it ends up.”
Unless the team already has decided to keep Xanders and deliberately devised this approach as a way to get the fans and the media to accept it, Xanders’ decision to publicly push for his position probably wasn’t prudent. It comes off as desperate, and perhaps even naive, for Xanders to think that an intermercial will make a difference.
Then again, given some of the decisions lately being made and contemplated by the organization, maybe it will.