Vic Fangio Shares True Thoughts on why Broncos Coveted Pat Shurmur as new OC
On Sunday, the Denver Broncos shocked the NFL world by parting ways with offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after just one season. Considering how bad the Broncos' offense was in 2019, finishing in the bottom-5 in almost every major statistical category, it was surprising that the team would want to upgrade the OC position.
It was the timing of the move and the fact that it came less than two weeks removed from head coach Vic Fangio saying publicly that he had no intention of making any alterations to his staff. However, something between that end-of-season press conference and last Sunday changed.
Likely, it was the fact that Fangio took a little time off away from the building before returning to scrutinize the job his assistants did in 2019 and render an evaluation. Combined with the number of experienced and alluring offensive coaches hitting the NFL job market in the interim, Fangio ultimately chose to pull the plug on Scangarello.
On Tuesday, Fangio announced ex-New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur as the Broncos' new offensive coordinator. Here's what Fangio had to say about the decision to pursue and hire Shurmur.
“Pat is an established play-caller with significant experience leading an offense as both a coordinator and head coach," Fangio said via team press release. "Having coached against Pat for a number of years, he’s always impressed me. His track record of developing younger players is outstanding. Pat brings a collaborative approach to working with the staff as well as a flexibility to adjust the offense to our players and opponents. We’re excited to add someone of his caliber to our coaching staff.”
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Reading Between the Lines
Aside from his 21 years of NFL coaching experience, perhaps what Fangio coveted most in Shurmur was his resume as a 'QB whisperer'. After all, the Broncos' future hinges on Drew Lock cashing in on his enormous potential. As a QB maven, look no further than the job Shurmur did with Giants' rookie QB Daniel Jones last year.
Jones eclipsed 3,000 yards passing while tossing 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in 13 appearances in 2019 (12 starts). Shurmur also got an efficient performance out of the veteran Eli Manning the year before, while also helping Case Keenum produce his best season as a pro in Minnesota back in 2017 and coaching Nick Foles to a Pro Bowl berth in 2013 (27 TD, 2 INT).
Shurmur springs off the Andy Reid coaching tree, where he learned much of what he knows about player development as a Philadelphia assistant from 1999-2008. Shurmur would return to Philly as OC under Chip Kelly from 2013-15, finishing his tenure there as the interim head coach after Kelly was fired during the 2015 campaign.
Fangio also mentions Shurmur's "collaborative approach" to working with other coaches and assistants and a "flexibility" to "adjust the offense" to the strengths of the personnel — and this next part is key — adjusting to opponents, too.
Scangarello struggled in both of those aspects in his one year as Denver's OC. Too often, the Broncos would struggled during long stretches of games after the offense had moved beyond the initial 15-18-play script.
There were a couple of exceptions, but Scangarello really struggled to counter the opponent's counterpunch in-game, which is a gut intuition for veteran coordinators gleaned from years of experience at the helm of an offense. Eventually, Scangarello probably would have honed that element of his repertoire, but Coach Fangio wasn't willing to wait.
Most coaches talk a good game about catering the scheme to the strengths of the players, but in Fangio's case, it's one of his most zealous core philosophies. It would be no stretch to assume that Fangio didn't believe Scangarello did a good enough job of tailoring the Broncos offense to the players, although, having to roll with the punches of three different starting QBs, two of which made their NFL debut under his purview, probably didn't help in that vein.
It's also interesting to hear Fangio reference his experience going head-to-head against Shurmur's offenses as a long-time defensive coordinator in the NFL. In his introductory presser one year ago, Fangio intimated that he was looking to build the type of offense in Denver that's traditionally given him the most fits as a DC himself. He believes Shurmur can deliver such an offense.
At the end of the day, Scangarello was a John Elway hire. Love it or hate it, the Broncos' GM gave Fangio the rope and autonomy to fire Scangarello after an extremely underwhelming first year at the helm (despite all the mitigating factors) and hire his own guy in Shurmur that the head man can trust to basically be the head coach of the offense.
Fangio's statement is a strong one, laying bear exactly what he covets in an offensive coordinator. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmesian intellect to deduce that Fangio didn't believe Scangarello checked those boxes in his one year as Broncos' OC.