Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ career record as a head coach in the NFL is 11-17. The biggest win of that 11 came on Oct. 12, 2009 when McDaniels’ Broncos beat Bill Belichick’s Patriots, 20-17, in overtime in Denver. Brandon Marshall scored the Broncos’ only touchdowns in that game, finding the end zone twice.
That was one instance where McDaniels and Marshall clicked, but their marriage in Denver was as rocky as the mountains that surround Mile High Stadium. In McDaniels’ first preseason as a head coach, he suspended Marshall for conduct detrimental to the team. Marshall was seen as a lazy player in camp and there was one instance where he “punted a ball away instead of handing it to a ball boy.”
According to a 2014 Grantland.com article, in the final game of the Broncos’ 2009 regular season:
Marshall arrived late for a physical therapy session “for treatment of a hamstring injury the team already believed he was exaggerating”and was promptly benched.
This appears to have been the final straw between McDaniels and Marshall, straining their relationship beyond repair. Let the record show that both parties deserve blame: While Marshall’s various offenses may have warranted punitive action, McDaniels’ uncanny knack for pissing off players shouldn’t be overlooked. In the end, Marshall was traded to the Dolphins for two second round picks, essentially forcing the Broncos to draft DeMaryius Thomas as his replacement, which has obviously worked out pretty well.
It should be noted that McDaniels was still the head coach in Denver when Marshall was dealt to Miami.
Based on the above, it would seem that Marshall is one of the last players in the league McDaniels would enjoy seeing in Foxboro. But it’s clear that both men have changed considerably from their stints in Colorado.
McDaniels, who was just 33-years-old when he became an NFL head coach for the first time, acknowledges that he just wasn’t ready for the big stage. Marshall was only 25-years-old at the time, and though he burned bridges in Chicago and Miami as well as Denver – he became a leader in the locker room with the Jets.
McDaniels and Marshall are far from BFFs, but they do have a relatively healthy relationship today. When the Jets beat the Patriots 26-20 in December of 2015, the Patriots decided to give the Jets the ball first in overtime. The move backfired as New York scored on its first possession and clinched victory. McDaniels went up to Marshall after the game and the two discussed the situation.
“After the game Josh McDaniels came up to me, my old ball coach in Denver, and I asked, ‘What were you guys thinking?,” Marshall said, according to CSNNE. “He explained to me the situation a little bit but I didn’t believe him.
“They’re so smart over there. Coach Belichick is so smart. It wasn’t serious what Josh told me. Their offense only scored one time or something all day. They wanted to play the field position game. Have us go three and out. Possibly punt and win field position, then go home. It was just bad timing for them.”