After stepping back from the season and watching the games with a fresh set of eyes, Broncos coach Vic Fangio concluded he could not go forward with the current offense.
Rich Scangarello, a first-time playcaller was learning on the job, so despite his solid work Monday through Saturday, Sundays revealed a lack of experience and courage to go off script. Also, Fangio remains in no position to babysit. The Broncos aim -- or need -- to return to the playoffs for the first time since Super Bowl 50. As such, Fangio decided a veteran offensive coach who could be trusted to run his side of the ball would microwave the offense's development.
Enter Pat Shurmur. After the former Giants boss visited UCHealth Training Center on Monday, the Broncos agreed to terms with Shurmur on a deal Tuesday, a source confirmed. He will be handed the keys to an offense with a blossoming young quarterback in Drew Lock and told to take deep shots, use gadget plays and remain aggressive.
How did Fangio end up with Shurmur? As I wrote about yesterday, he boasts a solid resume of success with quarterbacks from Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford to Nick Foles and rookie Daniel Jones, who threw for 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions last season. Shurmur's offense also ranked second in completions of 20-plus yards last year with 15, 10 more than the Broncos.
“Pat is an established play-caller with significant experience leading an offense as both a coordinator and a head coach,” Fangio said in a statement Tuesday. “Having coached against Pat for a number of years, he’s always impressed me, His track record of developing younger players is outstanding. Pat brings a collaborative approach to working with the staff as well as a flexibility to adjust the offense to our players and opponents. We’re excited to add someone of his caliber to our coaching staff.”
What's more, Fangio appreciated Shurmur's acumen in head-to-head matchups. As Minnesota's offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017, Shurmur posted a 3-0 record against Fangio's Bears in their final three matchups, averaging 27 points and 334 yards per offense per game. Things are moving quickly, but there remains a possibility Shurmur brings in a few coaches with him. Mike Shula is considered a candidate for the quarterbacks coach spot if he doesn't land an OC job.
The Broncos showed promise over the final five games, winning four with Lock. But while they increased their points per game from 15.9 to 21.8, their yards per game dropped. A look at how Shurmur's numbers last season with the Giants, where he was the head coach and play-caller, compared to the Broncos:
2019 Broncos vs. Giants
Points per game/rank: 17.7 (27th); 21.3 (18th)
Yards per game: 298.6 (28th); 338.5 (23rd)
Yards per play: 5.01 (26th); 5.35 (20th)
Rush yards per game: 103.9 (20th); 105.3 (19th)
Pass yards per game: 194.7 (28th); 232.2 (18th)
Red Zone TD percentage: 47.6 (28th); 57.1 (16th)