ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Ben McDaniels received his first big break because of his big brother. Now, those bloodlines might prove a burden.
The NFL future of the Denver Broncos’ 30-year-old quarterbacks coach was thrown into question this month when Josh McDaniels was fired Dec. 6 with the team mired in a slump on the field and controversy off it.
When he was promoted to tutor the quarterbacks less than a year ago, the younger McDaniels said he wasn’t shy of the tag “Josh’s little brother,” and he insisted Friday that hasn’t changed.
“Not afraid of it, and I don’t think it’s my job to try and avoid it,” Ben McDaniels said. “I just try and do my job as well as I can. As folks see fit to how I’m doing my job, that’s their opinion. I appreciate the good ones and try not to listen to any of the ones that aren’t any good.”
Ben McDaniels said he won’t try to separate himself professionally from his family ties and insisted his only concern right now is preparing Kyle Orton, rookie Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn for the final three games.
With Orton’s bruised ribs, Tebow has been given more snaps at practice and might get his first extended action — or even his first start — of the season Sunday in Oakland.
Broncos interim coach Eric Studesville wouldn’t tip his hand Friday, preferring to wait and see how much Orton’s ribs heal. Orton is listed as questionable on the injury report.
If pressed into duty, in conditions that might be quite sloppy, Tebow will be ready, Ben McDaniels said.
“I’ve always had trust in him that he was going to prepare well enough to be ready if and when we need him to play,” he said. “He’s done a good job with his role up to this point in the season.”
The Heisman Trophy winner from Florida still has a ways to go in transforming from a college quarterback who relied on his legs and a trademark jump pass into a drop-back, NFL-style passer. But he’s made leaps in his development, with Ben McDaniels playing an integral role.
“He’s a very bright guy, just like his brother and you can definitely tell that they’re brothers,” Tebow said. “He’s definitely got a bright future. He’s extremely smart and loves the game, and he loves learning. He’s just got great qualities to make a great coach.”
Such praise was once lavished on Josh McDaniels as well, leading the Broncos to bring in the brash Bill Belichick disciple to run the franchise in the same winning fashion as the New England Patriots.
Instead, the team became embroiled in a videotaping scandal, sullying the image of the organization, and is in the midst of the worst slide in four decades after a series of personnel mistakes.
No matter what kind of progress Ben McDaniels makes with Tebow, or how much he assists Orton, he still might be viewed around the league as nothing more than Josh McDaniels’ younger brother.
That, he can’t help.
But he does hope to stick around.
“Absolutely. I love my job. I love coaching quarterbacks. I love being around quarterbacks,” Ben McDaniels said. “I respect the organization, and I appreciate the time I’ve had here.”
Before being brought in by his big brother, Ben McDaniels instructed the quarterbacks at two high schools in Ohio, in addition to serving as a graduate assistant under Glen Mason at Minnesota from 2004-05.
He also played the position at Kent State University and led Canton McKinley High School in Ohio to two state championships.
Ben McDaniels served as a coaching assistant his first season with the Broncos, before being promoted to quarterbacks coach this year.
After being ousted, Josh gave Ben some brotherly advice.
“He just told me to go coach the quarterbacks. He doesn’t expect me to do anything different,” Ben McDaniels said.
“But like I said, my responsibility is to the players, my responsibility is to the quarterbacks to get them ready to play on Sunday. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I know I signed up for this when I came. Josh knew that. This was a possibility. This was always a reality in the business.”
Notes: The Broncos ruled out S Brian Dawkins (knee), WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle) and K Matt Prater (groin) for the game Sunday in Oakland.
AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)