DENVER – Their offense desperate for a new look and requiring vast improvement, the Broncos turned to Rich Scangarello to caffeinate an attack that has ranked in the league’s bottom third the past three seasons, per sources.
Scangarello brings a fresh set of eyes and intriguing résumé as the Broncos attempt to revive an offense that ranked 24th in points (20.6), 19th in passing (230.9) and red zone percentage (56.8) and 28th in third-down conversions (33.3 percent).
San Francisco initially denied the Broncos permission last Friday to talk to its quarterbacks coach, but that changed Monday, leaving Scangarello as Denver's frontrunner. He interviewed well on Tuesday with Broncos new coach Vic Fangio, leaving the process to continue on Wednesday.
Denver hired Ed Donatell as its defensive coordinator – he will be the eyes in the sky for Fangio – in what was a seamless move. And the Broncos will retain special teams coordinator Tom McMahon.
Scangarello, 44, had to win the job because of his inexperience. He has never called plays at the NFL level, running offenses only in college at UC Davis, Northern Arizona and Wagner. He left a cozy collegiate position to work in Atlanta under coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He helped with the offensive line and gleaned knowledge from Shanahan, who runs a nuanced version of the West Coast offense.
Scangarello has said he appreciates how Shanahan views explosive plays, that every call has a purpose and should be seen as a scoring opportunity.
Scangarello earned high marks for his work with quarterback Nick Mullens, whom he suggested the team sign following injuries. In his first eight starts, the undrafted rookie from Southern Miss posted the fourth-most passing yards (2,277) in NFL history. San Francisco began last season with playoff hopes before losing Jimmy Garoppolo to a knee injury. Garoppolo worked well with Scangarello in 2017, posting a 5-0 record.
Can Scangarello transition to play-calling at the NFL level? While at Wagner College, Scangarello explained that his offense boasts West Coast traits in the passing game, but that the key was to adapt to personnel and "run common plays and put window dressing on it to put pressure on the defense."
Scangarello helped out with the offensive line in Atlanta. With offensive line coach Mike Munchak in the fold, the Broncos will likely blend wide zone running schemes with power concepts. Munchak was a Hall of Fame lineman and is credited for revamping the Steelers' pass protection.