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Mile High Monday: Pat Shurmur will bring a whole new look to Denver

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

The Broncos are at home enjoying some crazy playoff football. However, they’re not just sitting on their hands watching the best in the league still play – with coaches getting back to the building on Monday, Denver is making moves so they can get back to the playoffs.

I like the uncertainty of the playoffs. Just when you think you know who is going to the Super Bowl, the best weekend of football – the Divisional Round – throws you for a loop.

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ – even in January! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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Five For Five

The Broncos have fired offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after just one season in Denver. With the hiring of Pat Shurmur as their offensive coordinator, that means the Broncos are on their fifth OC in five years. Preceding Scangarello were Bill Musgrave (2018), Mike McCoy (2017) and Rick Dennison (2016).

Scangarello was from the Mike Shanahan / Gary Kubiak coaching tree and brought an offense that was familiar to most of Broncos Country. However, the offense struggled to move the ball and score points.

Scangarello’s offense ranked in the bottom five in four key offensive categories; yards, points, third-down percentage and red-zone percentage. These are a few of the reasons Denver decided to make a change.

Will the move work? Only time will tell, but it’s clear the Broncos wanted to find an upgrade and that meant they had to move on from Scangarello.

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Expect More 11

With the change at offensive coordinator, the Broncos offense is going to have a much different look. Shurmur is known for utilizing the shotgun formation and spreading the field with 11 personnel (3-wide receiver formations). Last year as the head coach of the New York Giants, Shurmur’s offense (with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones) was in the shotgun formation 76 percent of their snaps on offense – a rate that ranked sixth highest in the NFL.

This move to more 3-wide receiver sets is also going to make the Broncos offense look drastically different. In 2019, the Giants were in 11 personnel 74 percent of the time a rate good for No. 2 in the NFL.

The instant reaction from most Broncos fans on Twitter had to do with 3-wide receiver sets meaning fewer players into block – and how that could be a disaster for Lock. It’s true, the Broncos need to focus their offseason on finding upgrades on the offensive line. Even if they groom guys this year to take over in 2021, they need to find better, healthier and more reliable answers up front. With $70-90 million in cap space (depending on who they cut), the Broncos may be players for offensive linemen in the free-agent market.

Some other fans pointed out how fullback Andy Janovich, who just signed a contract extension last fall, would have a severely reduced role in this offense. That’s true as the Giants only used a fullback on two percent of offensive snaps in 2019.

The Broncos offense will look much different under Shurmur. This is a move to embolden the offense and push the ball down the field. That means guys like Janovich or blocking tight end Jeff Heuerman may have reduced roles if they even make the team in 2020.

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Any Given Sunday… or Saturday!

On Saturday in the Divisional Round, the best team in the league and almost everyone’s Super Bowl favorite, the Ravens, lost to the Titans by a score of 28-12. Lamar Jackson is so much fun to watch, but the controversial quarterback who is dangerous as a passer and a runner was a bit too wound up for this game in my opinion.

Jackson threw a pick early against the Titans and then drew a personal foul penalty for tackling the Titans defender out of bounds. That effort from Jackson was commendable, but that flag seemed to fire up the Titans – and the loss fires up the people who have doubted Jackson since he came into the league as a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

It’s the most predictable response to Jackson and the Ravens losing to the Titans – doubters of the Ravens young quarterback will come out of the woodwork. After an MVP season, many fans and even some analysts had to admit they were wrong about Jackson’s ability to play quarterback at the pro level. Now, with Jackson losing in this manner in the postseason and having an 0-2 record, those haters are out in full force.

Jackson has a ton of talent and I’ve always thought he was a better passer than people gave him credit for. Sure, some of his passes were wobbly and he reverted to having poor footwork on some throws against the Titans. However, look at the dropped passes and overall lack of talent the Ravens have at the wide receiver position. If they want Jackson to win in the postseason, Baltimore had better concentrate on getting him some better weapons.

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Vegas State of Mind

Every year, I head to Las Vegas to hang out with my fellow staff members at Footballguys.com. We have our annual staff meeting in Vegas and it’s great to watch playoff games with fellow football diehards such as myself. I have worked for Footballguys since 2005 and have been playing fantasy football since 1993.

It’s incredibly fun to hang out with my co-workers and react to the playoff games we get to watch together each year. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to cover this great league and getting hired by Footballguys back in the day allowed me to leave the machine shop where I worked full time when I was just trying to get into the radio business.

I believe everyone at certain times needs to step back and just appreciate the journey we are all on. Realizing those who helped you along the way and appreciating the ups and downs of life makes the good times even sweeter. I consider how this industry has changed and grown over the years and it fascinates me.

When I was first on the radio with Mark Schelereth back in 2003, many felt fantasy football was only for super nerds and even talking fantasy football made some on the radio (not Stink, he was all in) uncomfortable!

Today, data indicates that nearly 40 million people play fantasy football. It’s not just for nerds anymore. In fact, if you don’t play fantasy football, you are the odd one. The NFL has embraced fantasy football and I love getting to learn more and more about this game each and every year.

You couldn’t ask for a better group of games to watch over the weekend! What did you think of the Divisional Round of the playoffs? Hit me up on social media and let me know!