The Denver Broncos became the third National Football League team to make a coaching change this season, firing Josh McDaniels after losing 17 of their past 22 games.
Running backs coach Eric Studesville will take charge of the team for the final four games of the season. Denver has a 3-9 record and will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
The Broncos have won one playoff game since Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway retired 12 years ago. McDaniels, who replaced two-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan in Denver, follows Minnesota’s Brad Childress and Dallas’s Wade Phillips in being fired this season.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the results and the direction this team was headed,” Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said yesterday in a statement. “Everyone, myself included, is accountable for our disappointing season and is now responsible for restoring the culture of winning that has been established by this franchise.”
McDaniels, 34, won his first six games after being hired by the Broncos in January 2009.
Since then, Denver has gone 5-17 and is in last place in the American Football Conference’s four-team West Division. The Broncos have lost seven of their past eight games.
“You never want to see anybody get fired,” Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton told reporters. “As players you feel bad. Obviously we haven’t played well enough all season.”
McDaniels and the Broncos were fined $50,000 each on Nov. 27 because the team’s video director filmed a practice by the San Francisco 49ers before their game in London last month, violating an NFL rule.
Before becoming the fifth-youngest coach in NFL history, McDaniels spent eight seasons as an assistant to Bill Belichick in New England. Three months after joining the Broncos, McDaniels traded starting quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears and a year later dealt Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami.
In the 2010 NFL draft, McDaniels used a first-round pick on quarterback Tim Tebow even though the Broncos already had Orton and Brady Quinn at the position.
The Broncos now turn to the 43-year-old Studesville, who has spent the past 10 years as a running backs coach in the NFL. He joined Denver in January after spending the previous six seasons in Buffalo and three years with the New York Giants. Studesville hasn’t been a head coach at any level.
“He’s kind of new, but I think he’s a really good coach,” Orton said. “He’s a positive person and a good choice to right the ship for the next four weeks and get this thing going in the right direction.”