Brandon Marshall is not traveling with the team. His injury: Self-preservation.
Josh McDaniels has played with fire on a powderkeg since taking over in Denver. He chased out the single most valuable player in football and replaced him with Kyle Orton. Orton was mediocre and injured in 2008. Before that, he backed up Rex Grossman.
Marshall is unstable. Maybe in another situation, fans would interpret Marshall's antics as a good player quitting on a team that desperately needs him. But McDaniels has towered above his team since joining the Broncos. Kept himself prominent in the stormiest of weather. And when judgment strikes down, few will see anyone but McDaniels channeling the spark to his team. Whatever Marshall's value, his role in this recent controversy, his role in the inherent instability of the Broncos organization, it will be McDaniels that will be blamed if he holds out, is traded or just ineffective.
It will be McDaniels that's jettisoned when the team goes boom.
That is, if the team goes boom. Worn controversy aside, blame only matters if the Broncos fail. Losing Cutler only matters if Orton or Chris Simms fails. And Marshall missing tonight's game only matters if Marshall is insistent on being traded. John Bena of Mile High Report thinks this Marshall not practicing with the first team offense, Marshall not playing so far in the preseason and all the surrounding controversy could be a smokescreen. Could. He cites Randy Moss's preseason experience his first year with New England. Moss wasn't publicly demanding a trade.
Mad scientist McDaniels could be misunderstood. Misunderstood genius is a more palatable take for Broncos fans than stubborn agitator leading his men to certain doom. Better Vincent Van Gogh than General Custer, despite their similarly tragic endings.
Maybe McDaniels is the antihero. Controversial, irreverent, balking at the cult of quarterback and believing system can make neckbeard GQ -- or at least Matt Cassel. The antihero earns the ire of establishment but the stubborn love of his followers, rewards his followers with eventual triumph and embarrasses the establishment by exposing their lazy convention and bigoted judgment.
I just see a kid in over his head; A mediocre team afloat on a passing offense now gone; An opportunistic wide receiver playing the angles; And a media smelling blood in the water. We'll know a little more after tonight. Seattle has a huge stake in the Broncos failure. Schadenfreude doesn't getter sweeter. As Lisa Simpson once said "Hack the bone! Hack the bone!"