Quarterbacks hate when you pit them against each other. Still, all too often, you will hear them compared leading up to matchups against each other. Peyton Manning vs. Tom BradyJohn Elway vs. Dan Marino…the list goes on and on.

The reason it vexes them is simple: quarterbacks don’t face quarterbacks, they face defenses. They aren’t trying to beat quarterbacks, they are trying to beat defenses. The same can be said about offensive coordinators. Nevertheless, here we go.

Set to take place in two weeks, Super Bowl LI will pit Kyle Shanahan and the Atlanta Falcons against Josh McDaniels and the New England Patriots.

Shanahan and McDaniels are considered two of the best offensive minds in football. They adjust to their schemes to their competition, find weaknesses and exploit mismatches. If you watched any football over the weekend, you saw just how effective they both are at doing this.

In truth, the pair has been competing not only on the gridiron, but for head coaching vacancies around the league. McDaniels actually pulled himself out of consideration for the head coaching position of the San Francisco 49ers, a job that Shanahan is widely expected to be offered as soon as the Falcons’ season ends. Sources say that the reason McDaniels pulled out was that he found out the team preferred Shanahan.

For the purposes of this story, it really doesn’t matter who gets the 49ers job. What we know for certain is that neither Shanahan nor McDaniels will be coaching the Denver Broncos next season.

As Mile High Sports reported over the weekend, Shanahan was close to landing the Broncos gig. McDaniels was in all likelihood never even considered.

Sure, McDaniels could probably do something to fix the Broncos’ offense, but to say that he would not be well received in Broncos Country would be an understatement. The reason behind the animosity might also provide some insight into why Shanahan wasn’t right for the Broncos job.

The Broncos have hired a young offensive mind before. His name was Josh McDaniels; and he lasted all of one and a half seasons in the Mile High City.

Hired in 2009 to replace, coincidentally, Kyle’s father Mike Shanahan; McDaniels was a 33-year-old offensive wunderkind. At the time of his hiring, McDaniels was the youngest head coach in the NFL, but he didn’t lack for moxy. He was brash, he was bold and he crashed and burned in Denver.

McDaniels worked quickly to leave his mark on the Broncos. He alienated quarterback Jay Cutler, eventually shipping him to the Chicago Bears. He drafted the polarizing Tim Tebow in the first round. He did not shy away from bold decisions or the controversy that came with them.

Everything worked according to plan out of the gate. Under McDaniels, the Broncos exploded, racing to a 6-0 record in his first season. Then the team imploded, finishing the season 8-8, and failing to improve upon the mediocrity that plagued the final years of the elder Shanahan.

After the Broncos got off to a 3-9 start in McDaniels’ second season at the helm, he was sent packing. Simply put, the experiment didn’t work.

This is not to say that Shanahan and McDaniels are similar personalities. Shanahan is confident, but he doesn’t crossover to overconfident, as McDaniels was during his stint as Broncos coach. Still, there are plenty of lessons that can be taken from the failed McDaniels experiment in Denver.

The first is just because something looks pretty, doesn’t mean you should buy it. If you need a car for around the farm, you wouldn’t buy a Lamborghini, would you? New England’s offense was a sight to see under McDaniels. Those who were expecting more of the same when he came to Denver were sadly disappointed.

Right now, the Falcons offense looks great under Shanahan. Should he take a head coaching job elsewhere, their offense may improve, but it likely will not look the exact same. There will be different personnel, a different coaching staff and they will be put into different situations.

Second, not all coordinators make great coaches. Calling a game, either offensively or defensively, is only one of a myriad of responsibilities for an NFL head coach. Wade Phillips admits that he was a bad head coach, but is a great defensive coordinator. Just because you are a tactician when it comes to playcalling, doesn’t mean you are a “leader of men.”

Finally, with youth also comes growing pains. That’s something the Broncos were forced to deal with when McDaniels was coach, though they were not prepared to. McDaniels was hired to get an average team back over the hump. He had success at first, only to see the league catch up when he failed to adjust. This was probably the Broncos’ top concern when it came to Shanahan. Viewing themselves as a contender, they were unwilling to risk a step back in order to move forward.

John Elway and the Broncos view themselves as a Super Bowl contender. A young coach might want to shake things up, to put his own imprint on the team. That’s not what the Broncos need right now. Maybe the Broncos would have fared well under Shanahan, but their own history would suggest that there’s an inherent risk that comes with such a hire. If we don’t learn from our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. Perhaps it is for the best that the Broncos didn’t risk it all by hiring Kyle Shanahan.