Fangio on Scangarello's Play-Calling: We had to 'Try to Win, Not Hope to Win'

Chad Jensen

Coaches sometimes say the darndest things. While I wouldn't technically call it 'Freudian' per se, perhaps head coach Vic Fangio inadvertently let something slip following the Denver Broncos 38-24 dominating victory over the Houston Texans. 

First, some context. 

Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello has been under fire all season long, but especially since Week 11 at Minnesota when the Broncos squandered a 20-point first-half lead. The embattled play-caller has received criticism from both inside and outside the building for his play selection and game-planning in the second half of games, including from his boss GM John Elway. 

Heading into Houston at 4-8, the Broncos as a team had nothing to lose. And for once, the offensive play-calling matched the reality of the team's situation on the field as the Broncos put up 391 total yards, posting 22 first downs and 31 of the team's 38 total points. 

“It was good," Fangio said of Scangarello's game-plan. "We knew we had to come out and get after these guys, and not hope to win but try to win, and throw it around and have a good mix of run-pass.”

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Pay close attention to what Fangio said about trying to win, as opposed to hoping to win. Perhaps another way of saying it would be coaching to win instead of coaching not to lose. 

Even with a rookie quarterback making his first career road start, Scangarello opened up the playbook and didn't take his foot off the gas. The Broncos got after the Texans early, totaling more points in the first half (31) than they had in any game's worth of action all season long. 

While the Broncos 'only' put up another seven points in the second half, it wasn't necessarily because of any palpable fear on Scangarello's part. Rather, when a team enters the half with a 31-3 lead, it's incumbent upon the coaches to call a game in the second half which kills the clock and maximizes the team's odds of holding onto the margin of victory. Scangarello did just that. 

Drew Lock went 22-of-27 for 309 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, finishing with a QB rating of 136.0. Lock became the Broncos first rookie QB to win each of his first two starts since Elway did it back in 1983 and made NFL history as the only rookie to ever eclipse 300 yards passing and three passing touchdowns in his first road start. 

Scangarello deserves credit for how well Lock played in both his home and road debuts. As Fangio alluded, the Broncos had a good mix of run/pass plays and especially exploited the Texans defense with their play-action game. 

The Texans were on their heels throughout the meaningful portion of the contest. Gone was the predictable offense Scangarello had been telegraphing to opponents over the last quarter of the season. He had Texans DC Romeo Crennel guessing all game long. 

Whether or not Scangarello's offense could work in the NFL was never in question. He proved that in the first half of games long ago. The issue was always Scangarello's play selection in-game following the initial scripted portion of his weekly game-plan. 

However, what we learned from Fangio after the big win in Houston is that like most pursuits, Scangarello's success or failure as a play-caller depends entirely on his mindset. Now that Denver has a truly dynamic quarterback under center, perhaps Scanagrello can more fully embrace that more aggressive and confident mindset that allowed the Broncos to jump on the playoff-caliber Texans early and then step on the opponent's throat. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (8)
No. 1-5

I think alot of credit goes to Drew Lock being better than any QB on roster. I feel like we got a QB of future

Stephen Jaye
Stephen Jaye

Effin A!!!!!!!


Until the Bowlen family regains control of THEIR TEAM and fire Ellis, Elway and Fangio.... The broncos will never have another winning season!!!


Still waiting on the CHAD story on how a 38- 3 lead becomes a 38- 24 final with 21 unanswered points... BEING JOE FLACCO's FAULT! Once again SCAMGrrrrrrr.....JELLO attempts to snatch DEFEAT from the jaws of victory for the WHOPPING 6th time in 13 chances! Late in the 3rd qtr we were up 38- 10 and it FINALLY LOOKED LIKE SCAMGrrrrrrr....JELLO understood the fundamentals of football... with a 28 point lead we RAN THE BALL SIX TIMES IN A ROW & TOOK 5 MIN OFF THE CLOCK.... FINALLY AWESOMENESS... and then N.O.P.E.... he JUST.CAN'T. DO.IT! MUST BE mr. cute & clever & open the door to a near Texan comeback 21 unanswered points & BTW they recovered an ON Side KICK! IF with 2 1/2 min left we continue running the ball at that point we were at Houston 25 and it was 2nd down... then at the WORST we take another 1+ minute off of the clock & GO UP 5 SCORES with only 1 qtr left to go... it is possible the way we run the ball that by continuing this example of EXCELLENCE in play calling to close out a game that we even get another 1st down &/or even a TD... hence we might even take clock down into 4th Qtr... so maybe CHAD while he is writing his story about how this is all Flacco's fault can also explain what EXACTLY IS THE BENEFIT of being UP 5 SCORES or BEING UP 5 SCORES.... exactly?!!? Instead of continuing as is NOPE SCAMGrrrrrrr.....JELLO just has to dial up an INT on a deep ball that serves exactly ZERO PURPOSE & IN FACT AS ALWAYS IS PROOF OF HIS STUPIDITY that has cost us 4 games now almost 6! EXACT SAME WAY! If we are 41- 10 or we are 45- 10 it is STILL 5 SCORES UP... but in one scenario we take another chunk of time off the clock... that would be SIMPLE & OBVIOUS... 'geniuses' don't do simple & obvious... they can't if you win with simple & obvious then where is the genius in that?!!? Instead they would rather lose with cute & clever genius... you know because that's genius! So instead of 41- 10 or even better & 1 qtr left to play 5 scores up... Texans have door opened leading to 21 unanswered points 38- 24 finish where Ward gets INT to seal the deal the same was last week same ERROR covered up by HC Veto, PI & Mcmanus$$$ LONG FG... NONE of those necessary 3 things are ever a guarantee... so last week could have been 5 out of 12 chances 50% games SCAMGrrrrrrr....JELLO handed to other team... this week SAME... at what point does that clown get FIRED what is the point of that deep ball- IT MAKES ZERO SENSE... in 6 games this year we have been shut out at least a 1/2 [2 qtrs worth] twice over 3 qtrs we were shut out & in every game we have been shut out at least 1 Qtr except for 1 game Vs Titans where we got a FG in 3 different Qtrs & won a DEF game 16- 0... now in addition to the 4 games that SCMGrrrrr.....JELLO handed to the other team... we also have squandered leads 6 times this season & some of those leads with our DEF are inexcusable & ONLY happened because our OCoord is an idiot: 20- 7 lead over Jacksonville lost in last seconds should have closed out game rushing ball/ LAC squandered a 17 point lead being outscored 13- 3 in last half a game Flacco managed to win for us! Against Cleveland we squandered a 24- 12 lead & gave the Browns 5 chances in our Red Zone to win but they sux almost as much as we do on 3rd down won 24- 19/Against Vikes we squandered a 20- 0 Lead outscored 27- 3 in 2nd half... those 3 points are ONLY 2nd half points/ Last week squandered 14- 0 & 17- 10 Leads Outscored 20- 9 over last 3 Qtrs... only won because THREE things that didn't have to happen did: HC Veto, PI, McManus LONG FG... all 3 were required & any don't happen we lose game for sure like always LAC were dominating after 1st Qtr like always...this week squandered a 38- 3 LEAD....UNBELIEVABLE also squandered a 38- 10 Lead & was outscored 21- 0 over the last half after the first drive TD we got... AND YET everyone says he called a great game?!!? Against another team with a better DEF not trying to get picks & instead tackling where all those YAR dry up we will LOSE guaranteed, if Lock hadn't had a PERFECT 1st half WE LOSE 21- 0 over last 90% of 2nd that Flacco's fault... Allen's Fault.... Lock's Fault.... how come ALL 3 QB's sux in the 2nd half?!!? It couldn't possibly beS CAMGrrrrrrrr......JELLO though could it.... hell no FIRE Gase FIRE Phillips Throw Kubiak in the TRASH after he gets healthy... they only WON US A SB... Gase had the BEST OFF production in the HISTORY of the NFL but that had NOTHING to do with him it was all Manning... we have had terrible OFF production in 1/2 of almost every game.... that's NOT SCAMGrrrrr.....JELLO's Fault it's Flacco, Allen & Lock... ok then. we have played a regular years worth of 1/4's- 52 just like weeks in a year: in 20 of them we have ZERO POINTS... 40% of the time we play a Qtr in football we get NO POINTS.... but that's all Flacco's Fault RIGHT OUTSCORED 20- 9 through FINAL 3 QTRS Vs LAC & almost LOST GAME SAME WAY- in last seconds idiot play calling thankfully we had HC Veto, PI & McManus FG LONG- to bail us out then this week OUTSCORED 21- 0 final almost full 2nd half... AND IT'S ALL Flacco's Fault! I said this idiot was screwing our DEF & his overworking our DEF is reflected in injuries & stats just as it was reflected in Flacco playing well statistically but not translating to win column... TRUTH- SCAMGrrrrrrr....JELLO has cost us 4 games in this season almost 6 in 13 chances... If we fire Scamgrrrrrrr....JELLO then 2020 can be a whole different season if not look for more of this BLLSHT 2020 and everyone else getting injured thrown off team no new contract while that retard continues walking around like he's a genius when HE CAN'T EVEN GET A 1st DOWN on 3 & 1 RUNNING THE BALL... like that is NORMAL?!!? That is what closes out the games we LOST... running the ball & succeeding- TRUTH & FACT! Now you want to be stupid like the dems in a circular firing line knock yourselves out it has cost us Flacco, Sanders & a lot of injuries that might not have happened we win just 2 of those 4 games he gave away we still have a season at 7- 6 right now we win all 4 like any other OCoord would & we are 9- 4 right now... so circle jerk the mormon wagons around that MORONS!