Elway Dishes on Broncos' Sudden Decision to Fire Scangarello, Hire Pat Shurmur as new OC

Chad Jensen

After how much GM John Elway gushed about Rich Scangarello over the last few months, and head coach Vic Fangio stated publicly that he didn't anticipate any changes to his staff, it came somewhat as a surprise to see the Denver Broncos fire their offensive coordinator after just one season. The timing of when the Broncos pulled the plug on Scangarello was also unique — almost two full weeks after the season ended. 

Having what the team believed was an upgrade suddenly available on the job market in Pat Shurmur helped make their decision but as Broncos TV caught up to Elway at the Senior Bowl this week, the GM provided further context on the issue. 

"I think that Rich did a nice job for us but I think that Vic thought that it was probably best to make a change there, and Pat was available, so we feel good about that," Elway told Steve Atwater of the team site. "Pat’s worked with a lot of young quarterbacks. Obviously, he was working with Daniel Jones in New York last year and so I think he’ll be a good complement with Drew [Lock] because of his experience with young quarterbacks, so we’re excited about him.”

Pat Shurmur

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This move was more about setting up Drew Lock heading into year two than it was about firing a coach for failure to perform. Considering Shurmur's resume as both a coordinator — and everything that entails — as well as a QB whisperer, what team wouldn't fire an inexperienced coordinator coming off his first year of calling plays to get that level of expertise in the building? Elway is psyched to get Shurmur teamed up with Lock. 

“First of all, he’s been successful when he’s been an offensive coordinator, done a nice job there," Elway said. "[He's got] an extensive background—his background’s really kind of in the West Coast [Offense]. What we were doing is West Coast. So there’s a lot of tie-over from what he’s coming in, what he’s used to, verbiage and those type things."

In other words, while it will be a new playbook, hiring Shurmur won't necessarily entail Lock learning a completely new system. The Broncos' scheme in 2020 will still be rooted in the West Coast variant Lock learned from Scangarello as a rookie. 

"He's been a coordinator at a lot of different spots and his background play-calling — he has a lot of experience there, too," Elway said. "I think that was the main thing. We thought he was a good fit for us."

Not only is it of the utmost importance to Elway and Fangio to maximize Lock's development but fielding a competent offense would be nice for a change, too. The Broncos have really struggled offensively since Gary Kubiak resigned following the 2016 season and with a juggernaut like Patrick Mahomes to contend with in the AFC West, it all comes down to scoring more points. 

The Broncos finished 28th in the NFL under Scangarello, averaging a paltry 17.6 points per game. That points-per-game average is inflated, considering that the Lock-led Broncos averaged 21.4 points over the final five games. 

“I think the bottom line is we’ve got to put some points on the board," Elway said. "So with Drew having five games under his belt, he’ll walk into this offseason with a heck of a lot more experience and a good feel for it. He’s going to continue to get better as he gets more reps and plays more and more. Again, we want to run base [offense] with play-action off that and take advantage of Drew’s talents but ultimately, we’ve got to figure out how to put some points on the board. We’ve struggled there, as you know, for the last two or three years. So we’ve got to get something going there.”

No pressure, Coach Shurmur. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (8)
No. 1-3

Excellent points. The dirty secret in the NFL is a player's fit for the current team, current scheme and current staff. Your take that what really happened here was the Broncos, effectively, improved the team/scheme fit for Lock with the move - when its usually the other way around. Hence Scang wasn't really fired for failing - but improvement in fit was to be had. Just fascinating. This is where you guys totally outclass 104.3theHATE...they are so consumed with hating Elway and creating controversy that they miss a key strategic call like this. So yeah still has to work yadda yadda... spot on.


Ok. Maybe I have ben looking in the wrong places, but when I look at Shurmur led offenses by rank, I see middle of the pack ranking for most of his career. In other words, C+. He had one or two seasons where he had a good offense. So as far as a upgrade, it maybe true, but this guy had plenty of seasons, but frequently had lackluster rankings. Scangarello had one season to prove himself. I’m not ready to call Shurmur an upgrade until he upgrades his own performance. What’s Fangio’s favorite line? A player can play better. How about a coach can coach better.