One week removed from calling the best game of his Denver Broncos tenure, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the team's Week 10 home bout vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.
While no one should make light of the coronavirus, some are viewing this potential coaching crisis as a blessing in disguise for the Broncos because it'll ostensibly give QBs coach Mike Shula a crack at calling the offense on gameday. Shula is a long-tenured NFL play-caller whom most Broncos fans will remember was the brainchild behind the 2015 Carolina Panthers' explosive offense.
Shula's influence on the development of quarterback Cam Newton was absolutely pivotal. Newton was selected to three Pro Bowls (2011, ’13, ’15) under Shula's tutelage. Only Shula could figure out how to glean an MVP performance out of Newton. That, in and of itself, is an impressive mark on Shula's resume.
This might be Shurmur's offense but Shula calling the Philly game would make the most sense — if, indeed, that's what head coach Vic Fangio plans to do. Fangio left open the possibility that Shurmur could be cleared to coach on Sunday, though the only possible way that happens is if Friday's test results were a false/positive.
When it comes to the subject of who will call the offense on Sunday, Fangio was guarded during Friday's presser.
"We'll share that duty and I'm not going to make it known," Fangio said. "But I know who it's going to be."
When Shurmur served as the New York Giants head coach from 2018-19, Shula was his offensive coordinator. These two coaches have been joined at the hip now for nearly a half-decade.
There is a vast swath of Broncos Country that has been pounding the table for Fangio to give Shula a crack at calling the offense as Shurmur's gameday tactics have left much to be desired since he arrived in 2020. Although it comes in unfortunate circumstances that no one would wish on Shurmur, that's the silver lining for the Broncos.
We can't say for sure that Shula will be calling the plays vs. the Eagles but it would be a shocking upset if Fangio were to give the duty to any other coach. RBs Coach Curtis Modkins, who's rumored to be in contention for the TCU head-coaching vacancy, has some NFL offensive coordinator experience, and O-line coach Mike Munchak has a long resume, but Fangio would be in dereliction of duty if any other coach besides Shula gets the nod this week.
Shurmur testing positive for COVID-19 is the latest in an alarming run of Broncos players falling prey to the virus. The Broncos have seen tight end Noah Fant and offensive guard Netane Muti be placed on the list in recent weeks, as well as quarterback Drew Lock, cornerback Michael Ojemudia, and linebacker Justin Strnad.
Friday saw the Broncos add one more player to the reserve/COVID-19 list in offensive guard Austin Schlottmann. The team, and its players and coaches, are striving to avoid the virus and maintain strict disciple to safety protocols as Colorado experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Update: 9NEWS' Mike Klis reported that Shula will call plays on Sunday.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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