ENGLEWOOD • Bill Belichick doesn’t remember when he first noticed that Josh McDaniels was head coaching material, but he definitely sees it now.

McDaniels, the Denver Broncos’ first-year coach, has the gold standard of coaching recommendations. Belichick, New England’s coach who has won three Super Bowls and orchestrated the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history, was very complimentary of his former assistant Wednesday. The Broncos and Patriots face off this Sunday.

“He’s a smart guy, knows football, understands all the elements of the game: personnel, strategy, offense, defense, motivation, all the different elements,” Belichick said. “He’s got a lot of poise, he’s cool under pressure and he did a great job for us here. It doesn’t surprise me he’s doing well out there.”

McDaniels did a bit of everything during his eight years in New England. He started in scouting as a self described low-paid “grunt,” then was on the defensive staff before switching to offense. He said the varied experience he got was invaluable, and it has seemingly helped his 4-0 team.

“They’re playing great football right now,” Belichick said. “They’re good in every phase of the game.”

Patriot Tom Brady, who threw a record 50 touchdowns in 2007 with McDaniels as his offensive coordinator and position coach, also raves about him. He said he wasn’t surprised McDaniels has his team playing well, because he commands respect with preparation.

“He’s a very high character person, he’s very well prepared, he’s diligent in terms of his preparation,” Brady said. “He’s great in communications, he understands what players can do and what they can’t do and focuses on the things you’re good at.”