Since the Broncos victory in Super Bowl 50 the team has been riddled with problems. These problems range from the front office, to the coaching staff and especially on field play. The Broncos problem this year is pretty glaring and could spell doom for the team before the season even starts. This needs to be the final season for Pat Shurmur in Denver if the team wants to get back on track.
Shurmur’s track record isn’t nearly impressive enough to put him in charge of a team’s offense. He’s bragged about Sam Bradford’s rookie year as a big accomplishment to put his coaching career in perspective. Shurmur was brought in under the false pretense that he was some kind of quarterback whisperer. Aside from a few seasons here and there quarterbacks under Shumur have finished either middle of the pack or rock bottom in QBR.
A lot of Shumur’s hype comes from his 2017 season as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. To Shurmur’s credit, he was a big factor in making Case Keenum look like a good option that season and that’s no small feat. But that’s one of only two seasons (out of seven) where Shumur as the offensive coordinator was productive. That’s not even counting his four dismal seasons at head coach, two for the Giants and two for the Browns.
The numbers from his only two seasons as the Giants head coach prove how much of a fluke that 2017 season was. Both years the Giants finished in the bottom half of the NFC East, including a last place finish in 2018. The sad part is that after that last place finish with a 5-11 record the Giants regressed to 4-12 the next year.
First Year in Denver
Before the bashing of Shurmur’s first year in Denver starts he needs to be given a little bit of slack. Due to the COVID-shortened offseason the offensive playbook wasn’t operating at full capacity. That being said, the plays that the Broncos used went absolutely nowhere. The Broncos finished 2020 ranking 24th in total yards and 28th in total points.
A lot of Broncos country has since turned on him but at one point there was a lot of hype surrounding Drew Lock being the future. That’s what makes the move of getting rid of Rich Scangarello in favor of Shumur so baffling. Much like Shurmur, Scangarello also wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t about his offense as a whole. Look past the trick plays and it’s pretty easy to see that Scangarello’s offense is a good fit for a dynamic quarterback. That’s exactly what Lock is, a gunslinger who fits in a fluid offense. Shurmur doesn’t provide that at all. The pass plays in the playbook consist more of check down type plays which can’t utilize what Lock does best.
Shurmur’s offenses can tend to be a little more running-back based, which might not have been the best choice in an offense with a young developing quarterback. That’s not to say that Shurmur shouldn’t have used Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay in his first year to the extent that he did, but a pass-based offense may have been the best fit for Lock. The worst thing a team can do while developing an air raid quarterback is move farther away from air raid.
This offseason has been the real killer for Shurmur. Reports out of training camp this week have been brutal. On the first day of fully padded practice the Broncos wasted live reps on throwing the ball out of bounds. That’s just ridiculous. Every team does something similar to this but that’ll usually take place in OTAs. Shurmur and Fangio decided to use the most anticipated and hyped up practice day for the players to have the quarterbacks waste plays throwing balls out of bounds.
Needs to go
Shurmur has been in the league for a while and the likelihood of him turning it around in year 20 is low. For the interest of the organization, general manager George Paton should look to move on from this coaching staff. But if he decides to keep Fangio, Shurmur still has to go.