Bowlen: 'This has been a very trying season for all of us'

To hear him tell it, Josh McDaniels won't be dwelling on whether the Broncos' problems on and off the field will cost him his job.

However, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen made it clear Monday night that his second-year coach is on a very short leash.

"This has been a very trying and disappointing season for all of us," Bowlen said in a written statement, according to *The Denver Post*. "We haven't had the success we had hoped to achieve. Josh McDaniels is the head coach of the Broncos, and you always strive for stability at that position. However, with five games left in the 2010 season, we will continue to monitor the progress of the team and evaluate what's in the best interest of this franchise."

Earlier Monday, McDaniels said his only focus is on trying to salvage a 3-8 season sullied by a videotaping scandal that cost him and the team $50,000 each and resulted in a subordinate's firing over the weekend.

"It's not, you know, not my decision, not something that's in my control," McDaniels said of his job status. "I'm just going to worry about what I can focus on and try to control the things that I can control."

In a separate conversation Monday, Bowlen told AOL Fanhouse, "I'm not interested in making a coaching change."

McDaniels has two years and nearly $7 million left on his contract, and team owner Pat Bowlen is still on the hook for millions more he owes Mike Shanahan, whom he fired last year.

In a conference call on Saturday to discuss the videotaping scandal, Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis said Bowlen still believes in the brash, young coach he hired away from Bill Belichick's staff in New England 22 months ago.

Ellis said the illicit videotaping of a San Francisco 49ers practice in London last month by fired video chief Steve Scarnecchia and McDaniels' failure to immediately report it "does not sway Mr. Bowlen's feelings about Josh one way or the other."

McDaniels seemed melancholy Monday, a day after losing for the 16th time in the last 21 games, the worst stretch in Denver in four decades.

"Nobody likes to have that kind of attention," McDaniels said when asked how he was handling the heavy criticism he's facing nationally. "Certainly, I'm not oblivious to that. I'm human. I know what we're about here. I know what I'm about here."

McDaniels also addressed reports that during a confidential staff meeting last week he had minimized the scope of the scandal relative to New England's own scandal, where an NFL investigation found systemic videotaping of opponents and levied heavy penalties.

He said his staff meetings are supposed to be confidential "and so to hear something out there about something that was said is disappointing. Again, I don't know exactly what that was or who said it and I'm not going to go chasing ghosts about what that is."

McDaniels said he didn't think his staff was splintered and that he believes his assistants remain loyal.

"I have a lot of faith and trust in our staff, believe in them very much and I know they're going to work very hard this week and the rest of the season as we go forward," McDaniels said.

Belichick declined to discuss the videotaping incident in Denver, which has put New England's 2007 scandal back in the spotlight.

"I'm really focused on the Jets," Belichick said in a conference call Monday.

Although the Broncos haven't been to the playoffs since 2006, Bowlen has never in his 27 years as owner had a team dealing with the double-whammy of front office and on-field issues like he does now.

The Broncos have usually been competitive into December even in their down years.

The franchise was busted for salary cap violations during its Super Bowl years in the late 1990s, but while there was some outrage around the league, there were no calls for Shanahan's ouster or fans voicing their discontent by bolting the stadium early or leaving seats empty altogether.

Paid attendance of 72,736 at Invesco Field on Sunday was the lowest since the stadium opened a decade ago, and by the time the Broncos' fourth-quarter rally fell one drive short in their 36-33 loss to St. Louis, most of the seats were empty.

The Broncos are 3-8 for the first time in 20 years and are allowing a league-worst 29.4 points a game, leaving agitated fans pining for the days when Peyton Hillis and Jay Cutler were playing in Denver and not starring in the Midwest.

On a dreary day in which the Broncos found themselves trailing by three touchdowns to a team that hadn't won a road game in a year, Hillis was collecting 194 yards and three touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns and Cutler was throwing four touchdown passes for the Chicago Bears, only adding to Denver's discontent.

Things don't get any easier for McDaniels or the Broncos, who play their next three games on the road, starting with Kansas City on Sunday.

That's a rematch of the game two weeks ago in which Chiefs coach Todd Haley refused to shake McDaniels' hand after the Broncos coach chose to keep blitzing a gimpy Matt Cassel well into the fourth quarter, giddily chest-bumped his players after touchdowns and challenged calls with the blowout victory well in hand.

"There's a lot of (expletive) being talked about you," Haley said as he wagged a finger at McDaniels.

Haley apologized the next day for the breach in post-game coaching etiquette.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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