The Denver Broncos fired Josh McDaniels on Monday. Two days later, Urban Meyer resigned from the University of Florida.
And, faster than you can sing a few bars of, "Rocky Mountain High," the speculation started: Was Meyer leaving the Gators so he could join his former star pupil, Tim Tebow, in Denver?
Meyer said he was "at peace" with his decision and said he wanted to focus on being a husband and a father, but ...
We gathered our NFL experts around the FanHouse Roundtable to discuss the Meyer-to-Denver rumors, as well other hot topics around the league as we get ready to open Week 14 of the NFL season.
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So, is there a Meyer-Tebow reunion on the horizon in Denver?
Dan Graziano: The timing of all of this sure seems suspicious. And we know the Broncos aren't afraid to look at college guys, because they wanted the guy from Air Force. I'll say there's a 57 percent chance ...
Thomas George: I think many Broncos fans would find that delicious. It sure looks like one needs the other, but I think it's more like 40 percent.
Chris Harry: Let the speculation begin, but first Meyer better get his issues settled. Clearly, there's something wrong with the guy, whether it's pains in his chest or something going on his head. If I'm the Broncos, I'm not opening a treasure chest for a guy who has retired twice in 12 months. Remember last year, he said, "I'm doing it for my family." The next day he changed his mind and said, "It's because of the players." So much for his family.
Graziano: Right, but isn't it possible that he just resigned because he's planning to go to Denver? That it's already in motion?
Pat McManamon: Why compound one mistake with another one, though? The Broncos already had one control freak who didn't work out. Why bring in another -- one with no NFL experience at that -- to coach a guy most teams did not believe was worthy of the first three rounds, let alone the first round.
George: No question, the NFL learning curve for Meyer would be real and huge. And his spread offense is sort of run-and-shoot like and that has yet to be successful in the NFL.
Harry: Well, the statement issued by UF mentions doing what's right for the family. Maybe Timmy is like a son/brother to them all.
McManamon: Dan's scenario is reasonable and plausible, but I offer this: Don't teams usually go the opposite of what they had? Lose a control freak, hire a player-friendly coach. This seems like two similar guys.
George: And you wonder if Pat Bowlen is thinking defensive coach.
Would Meyer mean the end of Kyle Orton in Denver?
Harry: Yes, it would be the end for Orton in Denver, but he's proven to be a marketable player who would draw interest from a lot of teams. That would be good, cause the Broncos need a lot of players.
Graziano: I do think it's a lot to assume an NFL team is willing to go with Tebow as its starting QB in 2011.
McManamon: Would we all not be shocked if they hung their hat on Tebow? Didn't it seem like McDaniels' firing was going to lead to Tebow leaving as well?
Graziano: Yeah, I'm with Pat here. Tebow wasn't thought of by anybody as a guy who could start at QB in the NFL anytime soon. I don't think he's shown anything this year that changes that.
Graziano: Even if Meyer turns out to be their guy, I wouldn't assume that means Orton's out and Tebow's in.
Harry: The team used a first-round pick on Tebow. That in mind, you would think they'd have a plan to one day hang their hat on him. Maybe he was McDaniels' pick, but for that $11 million signing bonus I'd want to see him on the field.
George: One NFL coach asked me early in that hook-up, "Does Josh McDaniels really think he can win a Super Bowl with Kyle Orton?" Talent, yes. Championships, no.
Graziano: Yeah, but Thomas, it doesn't look like McDaniels' thinking was always so sharp during his brilliant run with the Broncos.
McManamon: One other thing on Meyer: He runs the spread. Could the spread offense work in the NFL?
Harry: It works OK in New England. A lot of the same concepts.
George: Here is what a Broncos player told me about Tebow Wednesday morning: "I don't want him to play right now. I want to win right now. But he is already a lot better than he was last year (at Florida). We've got issues on the offensive line and have had them all year. Now, you throw Tebow in there and all of that pressure for a rookie would not be good. He's a good guy and a hard worker. It's amazing to see him prepare like he does even though he's not the starter. He works hard enough that he would be successful here at some time. I think his success in college does translate into the NFL."
He's got to be better than some of the quarterbacks we're seeing in places like Arizona and San Francisco, doesn't he?
Graziano: Does he? Some of those guys were No. 1 draft picks and Heisman winners, too.
Harry: And Washington ... and Carolina.
McManamon: Mr. Luck from Stanford will do just fine in Carolina next season.
Harry: Buffalo is still in that mix.
George: I think the Arkansas quarterback (Ryan Mallett) is better than Luck. I think some NFL teams will see it that way.
Was McDaniels just a bad fit from the start?
George: No. From the start, he was 6-0.
Harry: I would say starting Week 7.
George: He beat Bill Belichick.
Graziano: McDaniels looks like an obvious example of a guy who knows everything about football and nothing about people. He had the resume, and the intellect, and everybody says he's as good a football mind as there is. But that doesn't mean you can coach men. Belichick had to learn that, and so does this guy.
Harry: Just because you get a NFL head job at 32 doesn't mean you have all the answers at 32. He obviously thought he did.
Graziano: Eric Mangini last year looked a lot like this. Seems to have made some changes.
McManamon: He was given the job too soon in his career, and he tried to be Belichick instead of being himself. A guy that young has to earn his players' respect immediately, and it does not seem he did that.
George: The injuries really hurt. The decisions he made on talent included huge mistakes. This idea that he thought he could win with his type of guys and not enough talented guys really burned him. He'd take a team of 32 Tebows if he could, but the NFL requires a lot more mix and match and, simply, Super Bowl caliber talent to win Super Bowls.
Harry: And the Spygate Revisited incident also said something about how the guy operates.
Graziano: Right, and the great coaches are the ones that can coach anybody -- not the ones who seek out the players who supposedly fit their style. Who's arrogant enough to think he's got that defined a "coaching style' at 32 anyway?"
Harry: Apparently he was.
Graziano: Like, by 32 with no head coaching experience, you've established a program that will work no matter how good the guys you put in it.
OK ... What's wrong with Peyton Manning? Seem to remember that everyone here -- except maybe for Pat, who went with Tom Brady – was calling him the MVP a couple of weeks ago.
Harry: The attrition of skill-position players has finally caught up with his remarkable ability to prepare.
Graziano: Manning has no help at all. They're down to their third- or fourth-string at RB, which hurts them in pass protection and exposes an offensive line that was no good to begin with. He misses Austin Collie.
McManamon: Nothing wrong with him that healthy and dependable receivers and a running game would not fix. Manning is Manning ... he just doesn't have the help. And ... I stand by my selection of the MVP four weeks ago!
Graziano: He has to do absolutely everything for them to win, and that leads to forced and bad throws.
George: He's pressing. He's uptight. He's not used to where he and his team is. He has to alter his view on a few things. Stop trying to be the MVP and play QB within the system.
Graziano: They aren't even in that game Sunday if Reggie Wayne doesn't turn into Superman.
Below, LeCharles Bentley and Pat McManamon dissect the Pats' victory over the Jets.
How do they Jets bounce back from the drubbing they took Monday night?
Graziano: I think they bounce back by kicking the tar out of a bad Dolphins team. I mean, that's how I'd do it if I were them.
McManamon: They were drubbed. But if they win and a couple other things go right this weekend they secure a playoff spot. Sometimes eliminating a drubbing is easier than eliminating a close loss. The problem comes if they play the Patriots again in the playoffs. That might this loss hard to ignore.
George: We are going to find out a lot about that in how they show up against Miami on Sunday. They need not just a victory, but a big victory. That would do it. They need it not for the past but more so for what lies ahead -- road games at Pittsburgh and Chicago immediately afterward.
Harry: I think if you're Rex Ryan you stand before your team and throw that game with the bath water. Everyone knows the Jets are 10 times the team that showed up that night. The Patriots, meanwhile, did not overnight solve the problems in the pass defense. It was New England's night. Move on.
Graziano: There's a story out there that Ryan physically buried the game ball from that game in the dirt by the practice field Wednesday morning. So, something like that, Chris?
Harry: I had not heard that, but yes ...
George: Might have been more effective if he tossed a couple of players in there with it.
Harry: Anyone in mind, Thomas? A safety or two?
Graziano: They're in real trouble at safety. The Jim Leonhard injury is going to be a very bad one for them.
George: Totally agree.
Graziano: Leonhard was the guy in charge of making sure all of their knuckleheads were in the right coverage on every play. That's the kind of thing, if it gets messed up just two or three times a game, could mean 14 or 21 points. We may have seen a little of that Monday.
George: And usually he made the tackle as a last line of defense to ensure another set of downs, another chance for the defense.
Graziano: Right. A big loss for them. At a spot where they were already kind of thin.
George: Rex is known for his creativity. He had better use it to solve this.
McManamon: They won't have Tom Brady exploiting the weakness of the secondary the next four games ... that helps. Chad Henne is not Tom Brady.
Harry: Thanks for the insight, Pat.
McManamon: Just something I noticed.
George: Do you guys think Henne has great upside, or what you see is what you get?
McManamon: You can only throw so many interceptions before teams run out of patience, right?
Harry: What I know about Henne is the Dolphins were all in with the guy ... then they went to Chad Pennington. I'm not sold, Thomas, are you? Seen too many mistakes.
George: It just seems in Miami they keep fluctuating between being all in and totally out. I guess that mirrors his play. I believe if his best is to come, it will take a while. And likely it is not worth the wait.
Pats come off the big win over the Jets and head right to Chicago. Who wins and why?
Graziano: I think the Pats do. They're on a monster roll, and the Bears' offense isn't built to take advantage of their defensive weaknesses.
McManamon: Tough game ... to travel to Chicago after playing Monday night. Patriots win because they have Tom Brady and because Bill Belichick is smarter than Mike Martz.
George: Tough game to figure. If the Pats block Julius Peppers, they win. If not, Peppers is the factor who beats them. I will go with the Pats. They just know how to win this type of game.
Harry: Historically, teams that win big, emotional Monday night games at home, struggle the short week (especially on the road). But I'm going to take Belichick over Jay Cutler, who seems like he's due for one of those shaky outings. You know Martz will want to take aim at a secondary that a week earlier was giving up 288 passing yards per game.
Are the Cowboys playing well enough to knock off the Eagles?
Graziano: Sure, but I don't think they will. The Eagles are playing pretty well themselves.
McManamon: Agree with Dan. Dallas scoring a bunch, but the Cowboys won't be able to stop Eagles offense. Plus, Eagles are getting healthy on defense.
George: They have them in Dallas and the Cowboys are responding there. Looks like a lot of points and a chance for Dallas to win it with a late kick. That's the way they get it done. But, agree with you guys, very difficult.
Harry: Eagles. What happened to DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff this season? Guess the same thing that happened to the rest of the team. ... But Dallas IS playing well enough to start moving toward Jason Garrett as a long-term answer, yes?
George: Garrett has to do more, much more in these last four games, for that to happen.
Harry: How many wins will it take?
George: Four more.
McManamon: There aren't enough wins for him to keep the job.
George: Jones has made it clear he won't be snookered. He finally gets it that his team and franchise is in trouble and needs a long-lasting cure at coach. He will think this one through long and hard.
Albert Haynesworth finally earned the suspension that it seems like he's been ducking all season.
Harry: Haynesworth wins.
George: Does he, really? I think Albert is just as unhappy as the Redskins. Money really can't buy happiness.
Harry: Albert is a slug who plays when he wants to play. And he doesn't want to play. But he's fine taking that $41 million.
Graziano: Haynesworth has conducted himself like an unrepentant turd, and deserves all of the blame for creating this situation in the first place. But don't you think Shanahan has mismanaged it?
McManamon: All we need to know about Haynesworth was when he stayed on the ground for that TD play against the Eagles. He got up, or tried to, only when Vick ran back his way.
Harry: And also from the "All You Need to Know Department," check out what some of his teammates are saying about him.
George: This is why in the draft and free agency process you truly have to define the talented players who love to play the game and blend those essentials in your analysis.
Harry: As for Shanahan, yes, he mismanaged it. But clearly he wasn't going to let Albert's money -- which was not Shanny's money -- dictate how he broached this situation. Haynesworth is a different cat who probably needed to get a few hugs, but the Redskins didn't hire that kind of coach.
Did Haynesworth have this reputation in Tennessee? He was a heck of a player there.
McManamon: Didn't he once step on Andre Gurode's face, opening his face up, twice? Didn't that happen? That happened in Tennessee right?
George: It did.
Harry: He had a rep as a jerk in Tennessee, too, but he played his ass off that final season because it was -- TA-DA -- a contract season.
George: I think he had a couple of college mishaps as well.
McManamon: But it is indicative of character, no? The Redskins still gave him $100 million.
Graziano: Ah, I don't know, Chris. Seems to me the coach's job here would have been to ultimately end up with a happy and productive Haynesworth playing and contributing. And Shanahan seemed to take opportunities to make the situation worse rather than turn it back toward the good.
George: NFL coaches in their first year in a new city with a new team sacrifice a lot to just get the thing going the way they want it to go. Sometimes it eventually works. Sometimes ... see McDaniels.
Did Ndamukong Suh's hit on Cutler warrant the $15,000 fine he received?
Graziano: I disagree with the Suh fine. It's an example of a system that needs to define itself better.
Harry: They are making it up as they go.
McManamon: It seems illogical that a guy can push someone in the back and be fined. The fine system seems inconsistent.
George: A lot of gray area on that one. I think the league, for now, is going to lean toward the penalty and fine to push these players toward a safer brand and intent of football.
Harry: This will be kicked around a lot by the competition committee ... if there is ever a CBA settlement.