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Vic declines to stand Pat, brings in new offensive boss

Fangio likes aggressiveness of Shurmur's attack
Posted: 3:08 PM, Feb 06, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-06 17:28:59-05

ENGLEWOOD -- In the end, Vic declined to stand Pat.

A week after the Broncos' season ended, coach Fangio decided his offense needed an upgrade. It was not about adding experience -- that didn't hurt -- but fostering improvement. So Fangio fired Rich Scangarello after one season, his first calling plays at the NFL level, and made his first call to Pat Shurmur.

Because of his respect for defensive coaches -- among them his late uncle Fritz Shurmur, Steve Spagnuolo and Mike Zimmer -- Shurmur found a fit with Fangio. He needed a job after the New York Giants fired him as their head coach, and the Broncos wanted an offensive playcaller with more thump.

Thursday, Shurmur finally met the media, describing an offense with West Coast principles gleaned from Chiefs boss Andy Reid. The challenge is real. He inherits an attack that has put coffee to sleep the past four seasons. The Broncos ranked 28th in scoring last year at 17.7 points per game. They averaged 21.8 under Drew Lock. Anything less than 23 and the Broncos are unlikely to snap their four-year playoff drought. So it's up to Shurmur to become the espresso and blend with the Broncos promising young signal-caller.

"I think when you go through the evaluation process (for the draft), you think they are going to do well. But you don't know how it's going to translate," Shurmur said of Lock, who caught his eye this time a year ago. "He was successful engineering four wins. That's what we are trying to do. I am excited to work with him in Year Two."

In Lock, Shurmur sees similarities to Giants' second-year pro Daniel Jones. Working with Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who is the Broncos new quarterbacks coach, Jones eclipsed 3,000 yards passing with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Lock posted seven touchdowns and three picks in five games. Projected over a full season it means 22 scores and 10 picks. I would be surprised if Lock doesn't exceed those numbers given his willingness to learn from mistakes.

Lock should benefit from a more layered, bolder offense.

"Contrary to the stereotype that defensive head coaches want to ground and pound and consider a pitch to the halfback a pass, that's not me. I want to be aggressive," said Fangio, who went 7-9 with a 5-3 home record in his first season. "(Shurmur's) offense will have a good mix. Balance is a big word. Most everyone thinks of it as runs vs. pass. I look at balance in a different way in the types of runs and types of passes. Where Pat's been, he's a good variety in both areas. It's not just one or two run styles. And the same style passing. He can mix it up. There's a lot of ways to throw the ball: short, intermediate, deep, play-action, drop back. And he's shown the ability to utilize all that."

Fangio wants strikes down field. The Broncos turtled in too many games a year ago, eschewing deep passes. The Broncos attempted 17 passes that traveled 21-plus yards in the air, netting three touchdowns. The Giants attempted 20 with 10 touchdowns. Shurmur's ability to open up the entire field will be critical to his success.

"We just have to do it (on taking deep shots)," said Shurmur, who admitted that offensive line coach Mike Munchak was a draw in convincing him to take the job. "There are going to be some games where we are going to need to throw and it's going to be smart to throw more than we run it. And there's going to be other games where running the football is the right strategy. But when you are doing those things, you have to be able to score points. That's how we are all evaluated."

Footnotes
The Broncos completed their coaching staff on Thursday, hiring John Pagano as the new outside linebackers coach. He has been in the NFL for two-and-half decades, serving at one point as the defensive coordinator for the Chargers. Pagano is a Colorado native who played at Boulder Fairview High School. ... Shurmur was asked about Joe Flacco's future, and he declined to discuss it. That is an organizational decision. Again, it would be a surprise if Flacco returns.