The Denver Broncos have named running backs coach Eric Studesville as interim head coach, days after the team fired Josh McDaniels.
Studesville will serve as coach for the remaining four games of the season, making him the 14th African-American to be named a head coach in the history of the NFL, and eighth Black head coaches currently in the league.
The 43-year-old Madison, Wisc. native has been coaching in the pros for 10 years, but will take on his toughest task yet as the first Black head coach in Denver Broncos history.
“I am very appreciative of the trust that Bowlen and the entire Denver Broncos organization have shown in me,” Studesville said in a statement. “Although the circumstances that this opportunity resulted from are unfortunate, I am excited to lead this football team. We have a great group of players and coaches who are committed to finishing the season on a promising note and making our fans proud of this team.”
McDaniels was terminated by the team on Dec. 7, making him the third NFL coach to be fired this season. The 34-year-old coach was relieved of his position two days after the Broncos fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, dropping them to a dismal 3-9 record.
The firing of McDaniels was surprising to some, as he was highly acclaimed at the time of his hiring less than two years ago. McDaniels served as offensive coordinator and pupil under New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and the Broncos organization hoped he would rebuild their franchise.
McDaniels led the team to an impressive 6-0 start to the 2009 season, but Denver went on to lose 17 of their next 22 games. McDaniels also traded away franchise quarterback Jay Cutler and star receiver Brandon Marshall, who both went on to play for teams with better records.
Bowlen said his decision wasn’t easy, but that something had to be done.
“My decision to relieve Josh McDaniels as head coach was not taken lightly. I will always be appreciative of his passion, enthusiasm and hard work, and I thank him for his efforts,” Bowlen said in a statement. “In the end, I was not satisfied with the results and the direction this team was headed. The decision to make a change was extremely difficult but one that needed to be made for this organization and our fans.”
“Everyone, myself included, is accountable for our disappointing season and is now responsible for restoring the culture of winning that has been established by this franchise,” Bowlen added. “Our entire organization is completely focused on returning to the level of prosperity that our fans expect and deserve from the Denver Broncos.”