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Two Coaching Changes Broncos can Make Without Firing Anyone

It's adapt-or-die time for the Broncos coaching staff.

Even when the Denver Broncos were 3-0, the team had multiple issues on both sides of the ball. Over the Broncos' last three games, those issues have been exploited by opponents as the team has fallen to 3-3, facing a short week turn-around to face a tough Cleveland Browns squad on Thursday night. 

Whatever happens in Week 7, the Broncos need to be seriously considering some changes at the coaching level. While it seems unlikely Denver will fire any coaches, it can still make some changes. 

The reason GM George Paton hasn't fired any coaches is relatively simple. When a team fires a coach, it has to have someone in mind to replace him in that role, and Denver doesn't have anyone waiting in the wings to save the day. 

With the Broncos being unlikely to fire anyone before the season is over, what changes can they still make? One must comes to mind: change which coaches are calling the plays for both the offense and defense. 

The Broncos have shown over the past few weeks that their current play-callers aren't doing a good job. 

Of course, the Broncos' play calls are not the only issue with execution being a significant problem, too. However, more intuitive and strategic play-calling, and an improved feel for timing and game situations, can alleviate those issues. It would also help the coaching staff in other ways by allowing it to focus on the multitude of other problems plaguing the Broncos currently. 

Give the Offensive Reins to Shula

The Broncos would be wise to give the offensive play-calling duties to current QBs coach Mike Shula with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur being a voice when devising the game plan. Shula has done an excellent job as an NFL play-caller before (see Carolina Panthers circa 2015), and his feel for calling plays has been pretty spot-on. 

To top it all off, Shula has shown the ability to call the right plays in the right situations to maximize the talent of his personnel while Shurmur has consistently failed in that regard. 

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Give the Defensive Reins to Donatell

Defensively, head coach Vic Fangio must hand over play-calling duties on gameday to defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. The scheme wouldn't change, but Fangio has struggled consistently to juggle calling games from the sideline while keeping a balanced focus on his other demands as a head coach. 

Giving the responsibility to Donatell would allow the defensive play-caller to be making the decisions from the booth — with being able to see everything — while Fangio can still offer insight from the sideline. 

Bottom Line

The Broncos' current approach isn't working, as inconvenient as that may be, and changes have to be made. With Paton unlikely to hand any coach his walking papers in-season, this is the only option the Broncos have left to flip the script and hopefully create a spark. 

These coaches are coaching for their jobs and need to make the playoffs and changing up the play-calling duties right here and now is the best chance the Broncos have of righting the ship in time to hopefully make a postseason bid. Whatever changes Denver does make, they'll likely come after the Browns game when the Broncos will be afforded a mini-bye week (10-day gap between games). 

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