McDaniels, JoshIt’s not like the Denver Broncos would have made the playoffs if they had won yesterday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Invesco Field, but the 44-24 loss was nevertheless a crappy way to close the season. The Broncos finished 8-8, the model of mediocrity.

The Denver Post’s Woody Paige (free registration required) suggests the Broncos gave up sometime after the midpoint of the season.

After one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in team history, the Broncos ended up exactly where they were this time last year. They’re now 32-32 over the last four seasons, all without a trip to the playoffs, and are one of the few teams in the league’s Super Bowl era to start the year 6-0 and fail to make the post season. Things just weren’t right in the week leading up to yesterday’s must-win game.

Rookie head coach Josh McDaniels publicly questioned whether wide receiver Brandon Marshall hurt his hamstring in practice, and ESPN notes that Marshall subsequently missed a therapy session. McDaniels (pictured) also benched tight end Tony Scheffler after he was allegedly overheard saying he couldn’t wait for the team’s season to be over. Both players have likely played their last meaningful games in a Broncos uniform, as both are free agents.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that McDaniels will likely get rid of more players brought on by former head coach Mike Shanahan as McDaniels continues to overhaul the roster.

One way to do that is through the draft, and the Broncos will get the Chicago Bears’ first-round pick as part of the Jay Cutler trade from last spring. The Chicago Tribune points out that it could be a top-10 pick, a few spots higher than the Broncos’ pick, which goes to Seattle as part of a draft-day deal the Broncos made to get defensive back Alphonso Smith.

Next season is the only hope for Broncos fans. For now, we’ll have to stew in the midst of another failed professional football season in Denver.