In Wake of Scangarello's Firing, it's Fair to Wonder if Elway & Fangio are on the Same Page

KeithCummings

Most fans are unlikely to shed a tear over the Denver Broncos' recent decision to fire underperforming offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. Scangarello's replacement is set to be Pat Shurmur (ex-Giants), who will most certainly be a considerable upgrade in terms of experience and provide the crucial element of more creative and aggressive play-calling.

The move to fire Scangarello does, however, call into question how the football side of the Broncos organization is being managed by GM John Elway. How can the firing of yet another offensive coordinator even remotely come close to resembling Elway’s favorite Broncos buzz word from 2019 — continuity?

Moving on to appoint the team's fifth offensive coordinator in as many years also marks a rapid U-turn from Vic Fangio, who said two weeks ago that he didn't expect any changes to his coaching staff. 

The only common dominator is the fact that both Elway and Fangio seem to agree that Drew Lock is the answer at quarterback the team has been searching for. The realization of what they have in Lock has provided a zest to accelerate the young signal-caller's development, if the team can place him in the right pair of hands and system.

Despite this shared perception of Lock, it still represents a huge departure from what the Broncos' boss said about his vision and philosophies for developing a franchise QB when he was interviewed by Peter King only a year ago.

“When we do find that guy, we’ve got to have the continuity on the offensive side to where we can train him and develop him and get him there,” Elway told King last January.

While the GM deserves credit for hitting on his second-round draft pick, it would also be wise to employ a sensible degree of caution, while carefully managing expectations in order to maximize Lock's potential.

Obvious upsides were plain to see as the QB led his team to a 4-1 record down the stretch but Lock still has a long way to go with future bumps in the road being inevitable. Changing systems and cycling coordinators has roundly been considered one of the quickest ways to derail a young QB's NFL career.

Providing a rock-solid foundation for a youngster to grow was always something that Elway prioritized in the past, as he expanded in his interview last year with King,

“This is our fourth year offense in probably three or four years. QB’s need to be developed,” Elway admitted. “You don’t find one ready-made, we got to have a solid system in place for when we do go after whatever guy it may be, a young guy or a trade or whatnot.”

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Strangely, Elway would appear to have forgotten his own words, as the recent change of staff will directly affect his starting QB the most. Shurmur is known to run a QB-friendly system that features a lot of shotgun looks, which would suit Lock, but it will still require time and repetition to be mastered.

Diving deeper into the back story of how Scangarello met his demise in Denver, perhaps it was Fangio who made a power play by getting his guy into the offensive operation despite Elway’s short-lived emphasis to maintain coaching continuity. The proverbial internal struggle of head coach vs. general manager could perhaps hold some water in Denver's situation, especially when you dive deeper into Elway’s end-of-season comments.

“Not having continuity on the offensive side makes it a lot harder, no matter who the QB is," Elway said on December 30. "Unless you have continuity in the system that you have, it’s going to be hard to have a QB that goes through multiple system changes. I’ve talked to Vic about us trying to make sure we have the same system offensively and keep that going and be able to hire from within if we were to lose people. But the key thing that we have to do is, systematically, we have to be consistent year in and year out to have these players get better.”

What’s now clear, only days after making this statement, is that Elway did a 180. Or at least, he rubberstamped Fangio's decision to fire Scangarello and pursue Shurmur, thus calling into question whether the GM and coach are truly on the same page. 

If there is a level of disconnect between Fangio and his boss over how to proceed in building the Broncos, those potential cracks could only deepen over time. At this stage, considering how quickly both coach and GM contradicted their words through the action of firing Scangarello, it's fair to question whether the two are on the same page. 

As I wrote on Monday, Broncos fans should be excited about the arrival of Shurmur — a well-respected and experienced offensive mind. But we'd be remiss to not examine the internal implications of what these coaching moves could mean. 

Bottom line, here's to hoping that the musical chairs in the coaching ranks don’t conspire to damage Lock's overall development — that would be most unforgivable. There's also the possibility teaming him up with Shurmur could accelerate Lock's growth. Only time will tell. 

Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (26)
No. 1-9
Choibake
Choibake

Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson

Letswin17
Letswin17

I'm not certain Fangio is sold on Lock. Maybe Elway told Fangio that he will succeed or fail with Lock. Fangio response was Shurmur and Elway submitted to that settlement.

Elway said at the EOY presser that they really didn't have any other choice with Lock.

Brew77
Brew77

People need to stop crediting Elway for selecting Lock let us not forget he passed on Lock twice before getting completely lucky Lock was still on the board. Mel Kiper Todd McShay Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks all had first round grades on him and every mock draft they did last year had him going in the first round it was a miracle he made it out of the first round and after seeing him play you see why. Elway hitched his wagon to Joe Flacco and truly believed and wanted him to be the QB in Denver for the next 2 to 3 years even saying he believed Flacco was still in his prime ha what a joke that was. Now that Lock has basically saved his job and brought some renewed excitement into this franchise it’s no wonder he is singing the praises of Lock. Im fairly sure Fangio and Elway are on the same page and as it’s been pointed out there were reasons to fire Scangarello but there are also reasons to point out for him being a scapegoat as well. Bad offensive line Joe Flacco inconsistent running game young skill position players all that is something a new OC can’t overcome. When your going on your 5th OC in 5 years it can’t be all on the OC at some point the GM and HC need to take some of the blame as well.

Pacocitto
Pacocitto

Sure glad Elway didn’t consider the critical value of continuity when he went out and got Peyton Manning. Schurmur has a resume so much more extensive and successful than Scangarello - this was a easy slam-dunk decision. Certainly, Schurmur’s availability wasn’t known, when Vic said there would be no planned coach changes. When the Broncos go 11-3, then lets preach continuity.

SpokaneBronco
SpokaneBronco

I hope we don't continue our pitifulness on special teams!

DadRunAmok
DadRunAmok

You're just trying to stir up controversy, Keith, and I doubt there is a disconnect here at all. Grown-ups can disagree, and grown-ups can change their minds, and keep a good relationship. Happens at my job. All. The. Time. Continuity is important, and with Fangio entrenched as HC, I would argue that the Broncos have it even with the change at the top of the offense. The fact is that Shurmur is a multiple-times proven success with young quarterbacks. He was available, he wants to be in Denver, and he wanted the opportunity to coach Drew Lock specifically. Really, this hire was a no-brainer. The fact that it happened shows that the Broncos' decision-makers are on the same page.

Denverkewl
Denverkewl

Continuity - If Kubes had never gotten sick he'd still be the HC. So there's that. In this case, accountability for crap play calling that killed the season was ok when you have an upgrade option, Fangio just wasn't gonna bet his job of Scangs any longer. Can't blame him. Now I wanna see accountability of ST...btw Elway, it appears to me, is constantly adjusting - thats why the Draft has improved, why he changed coaches to experience, why he listened as they brought in guys like AJ and Bausby etc...So unless you were a fly on the wall, I can just as easily say this was another adjustment...something Scangs refused or couldn't do.

Coffeedude1234567
Coffeedude1234567

Fangio knows what’s up. 👍

Steve Atwater 27
Steve Atwater 27

Thats a fairly dumb question. Of course they are, and that page is winning ball games. Joe Ellis on the other hand, might be reading a different book.


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