DENVER -- The Broncos offensive coaching staff has gone from bright green to shades of gray.
After one season in Denver, coach Vic Fangio learned the landscape and, truthfully, the lack of patience. This isn't a place for rebuilding. After the team's successful finishing kick, Broncos fans are thinking playoffs. As is general manager John Elway.
After taking stock in January, Fangio concluded he needed more experience on the offensive side of the ball. He fired Rich Scangarello, who had never run an NFL offense, and hired offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Shurmur has a track record of successfully calling plays, and he added his right-hand man from the Giants in Mike Shula.
Shula was officially added Tuesday as the Broncos quarterbacks coach.
“Mike is a well-respected coach around the league, especially when it comes to developing quarterbacks," Fangio said. "The familiarity he has with Pat [Shurmur] is an added bonus, but what’s most impressive is Mike’s proven track record coaching quarterbacks at many different stages of their careers. We’re fortunate to add someone with his depth of experience, coaching ability and unique perspective to our staff.”
He has directed attacks, most effectively in Carolina, and succeeded in microwaving the development of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones last season. Jones finished with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 13 games, 12 starts. By comparison, Drew Lock went 4-1 as a rookie, posting seven scores and three picks. Project that over a full season and it looks like this: 22 touchdowns, 9 interceptions. That's intriguing, and could be better with the tandem of Shurmur and Shula.
Shula's offense last season ranked second in touchdown passes of at least 20 yards, notching 15. Fangio wants an offense with more big strikes, gadget plays and less predictability off the 15-play script. The combination of Shurmur and Shula suggests that's possible, though fans have every right to be skeptical given the Broncos boast their fifth offensive coordinator in five years.
One thing to note: Shurmur and Shula were both bullish on Lock before the draft last season. Shula attended Lock's Pro Day and hit it off with the former Missouri star. It's a small thing, but creates a foundation for a relationship the Broncos absolutely need to work. The Broncos averaged 17.7 points per game last season, and bumped to 21.8 under Lock. They are aiming for 23 as a goal, at least. Of the 15 teams that averaged 23 points last season, 11 reached the playoffs.
Shula has spent 11 years as an OC with Tampa Bay, Carolina and the Giants. His top attack came with Carolina in 2015 with MVP quarterback Cam Newton, who was vanquished in Super Bowl 50 by the Broncos. The Giants passing attack ranked in the top 10 in each of the past two seasons.