We have seen for a number of years now that the quarterbacks the Broncos have brought in don’t fit well with the offensive coordinator. It’s time to fix that.
Pat Shurmur is coming to Denver and running an offense that hasn’t really lit up the scoreboard during his coaching career. Shurmur has only called plays for a top 10 scoring offense once in his career; that came in 2017 with the Vikings.
During the last three years, the Broncos offense has yet to rank better than 24th in points per game on offense. Now there’s multiple reasons for this issue. The play callers didn’t fit with the quarterbacks.
In 2017, Denver rolled out with three quarterbacks through the season with Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. This is far from the most talented quarterback room, but it for sure didn’t fit well with offensive coordinators Mike McCoy and Bill Musgrave.
McCoy’s offense is more of a spread offense in which he wants to throw the ball more out of shotgun, as well as run the ball out of the same formation. Here’s the issue, McCoy looked good after Peyton Manning took over on the offense in 2012. McCoy also got a lot of credit for changing the offense in 2011 when John Fox forced the coaching staff to change the offense that fit Tim Tebow. Well the fun fact is, sources have told me that Tebow was the one teaching the team how to run his zone-read offense that helped them get into the playoffs instead of McCoy getting all of the credit.
Once McCoy got fired midway through the 2017 season, Denver switched to Musgrave to take over play calling duties as well as in 2018. Safe to say that didn’t help either.
Siemian was accustomed to running Gary Kubiak’s offense in which he succeeded rather than Musgrave’s offense. Osweiler was the same way. Yes, Musgrave runs similar concepts with Kubiak, but it’s not as effective and creative like Kubiak’s. Don’t forget both Siemian and Osweiler played really well in Kubiak’s system in 2015-16.
Another issue is that Denver drafted Lynch, but they were too stubborn to help him out. The Broncos spent a first-round pick on Lynch who ran a simplified spread offense in college where he mainly made one read on one side of the field. Kubiak and his staff failed to adapt to the rookie quarterback.
The Broncos made the same mistake in 2017 as well with Lynch. Now we can’t ignore that Lynch wasn’t the smartest guy in the building and was reportedly not always focused on football as much as he should have been. Don’t forget that Lynch ran an offense that fit him in Seattle in which he beat the Broncos in a preseason game where he shined in a revenge game.
In 2018, Denver went out and signed Case Keenum after his MVP-type season with the Vikings the season before. Once again, Musgrave and the Broncos didn’t adapt to Keenum.
Denver went on to run a concept of the zone-blocking, Kubiak-type offense. The offense definitely didn’t fit Keenum like Pat Shurmur’s did the year before in Minnesota.
Keenum would finish the season with only 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 3,890 yards and a completion percentage of only 62.3%. That was only good enough to lead Denver to a 6-10 record.
The Broncos should have run more plays from the previous season with Keenum by adding more RPOs for him and simplifying his reads. Denver refused to give Keenum help on the offensive line by not adding extra protection on the edges to that Keenum would have time to make multiple reads. There were multiple times Keenum would not have enough time to go through his reads because of the pressure and none of his wide receivers were getting open. That’s on play calling to be more creative to get the ball out quicker.
Let’s move to 2019. John Elway decided to bring in an aging 34-year-old quarterback in Joe Flacco who was also coming off a hip injury. So what did the Broncos do? They hired Rich Scangarello who was a first time play caller coming off the Shanahan tree.
If the Broncos were in a ‘”win now” mode, why bring in a first time play caller? That didn’t make sense to me either.
Scangarello’s offense is based off of Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but once again it didn’t match up with a quarterback that couldn’t move around. If Denver had a more mobile quarterback all season, Scangarello still might be the offensive coordinator for Denver in 2020. Flacco did excel in this type of offense in 2014 under Kubiak, but that’s when he was more mobile than he was at the age of 34. Once again, Denver paired up a quarterback with an offensive coordinator that didn’t fit him.
It’s not just Elway’s fault on this issue, either. In the final five games when Drew Lock started, the offense seemed to fit the rookie quarterback. Five good games isn’t good enough for Elway and Vic Fangio though, as they fired Scangarello after the one season.
The issue is that the Broncos are also hiring coordinators that are being too stubborn as well not willing to adapt to the quarterback they have on the roster. That has to change and it has to change this season with Pat Shurmur pairing up with Lock.
Looking at last season’s Super Bowl, we saw Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo competing at the quarterback position. Andy Reid has been in the NFL since 1992 and has adapted to multiple quarterbacks like Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, Nick Foles, Michael Vick, Alex Smith and now Mahomes. Kyle Shanahan has pretty much been around the game his whole life following his dad up and down the sideline, just trying to learn more how to call plays in the NFL. Kyle has coached quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Matt Schuab, Matt Ryan, Johnny Manziel and now Garoppolo.
What do the two these coaches have in common? They adapted to the new offenses in the NFL. They also adapted their offenses to match what their quarterbacks excelled at.
Don’t forget even in the 2015 Super Bowl season that Kubiak and Manning didn’t mix well at first and they would butt heads at times, but Kubiak also knew he would adapt with Manning. If the Broncos needed the offense to be more effective, Kubiak would call a package called “Top Gun” in which Peyton would pretty much take over and call the plays on the field, according to Tyler Polumbus, who was on that Super Bowl-winning team.
If the Broncos really want Lock to workout this season, they must run an offense that he feels comfortable in and an offense that fits his skill set. Shurmur cannot be stubborn putting an offense together this season. It’s time to adapt.
Remember Peyton Manning ran the same offense for 17 years of his career, but had to adapt in the final few games of his career if he wanted to win a Super Bowl? In the great words of Kevin Garnett, “Anything is possible!”
- Timeline 25: Remembering the biggest Colorado sports stories of 2016
- Legends Week: Jeremy Bloom couldn't douse 'dream' of being next Elway
- Avalanche defensemen Cale Makar is a finalist for Calder Memorial Trophy
- Legends Week: Dante Bichette says Denver's still the top spot for baseball
- The case for Rockies fans to root for a Dodgers title in 2020
- Legends Week: Adam Foote accidentally wore a Rockies shirt to final Quebec meeting