Sure Thing Shurmur: The Broncos make a wise hire

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur walks out of the tunnel onto the field prior to the Giants game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Forget for a moment continuity.

Forget dysfunction and culpability.

Forget Rich Scangarello, who won’t really be missed, and who might very well one day become an excellent offensive coordinator.

Forget watching paint dry Sunday after Denver Sunday.

Pat Shurmur is the right move.

Whether Scangarello – leader of the worst, most unwatchable offense in Broncos history – is a scapegoat or not, whether he got a raw deal or not, the hiring of Shurmur in his place serves as an upgrade. Despite the fact that Shurmur will be the fifth offensive coordinator in Denver in five years, it’s still the right move. Before Drew Lock, everyone in Denver wanted the Broncos to hand Scangarello a pink slip. But when Lock came in, the Broncos offensive coordinator was practically handed new life. Even head coach Vic Fangio said that his staff would likely be retained.

But that wasn’t the case. And that’s okay.

Scangarello, who had some very real excuses – three quarterbacks in one season, two of which had never started an NFL game, a terrible offensive line – wasn’t good. He was conservative and, at times, seemed to have very little feel for situational football. The Broncos offense was 28th in the league in both points and yards; they were 30th in 3rd down efficiency. They scored 16 points or fewer in nine games. Regardless of excuses, few coordinators would be retained with such results.

Shurmur, as it turns out, didn’t work out as the Giants head coach. But his track record as an offensive coordinator – with the Rams, Eagles and Vikings – is on par with Fangio’s work as a defensive coordinator. His work with the development and guidance of several quarterbacks – Donovan McNabb, Sam Bradford, Nick Foles, and even Case Keenum (who’s best season occurred alongside Shurmur) – also speaks for itself. The fact that he’s scouted and spoken very highly of Drew Lock, is encouraging, too.

When one simply looks at the facts – and forgets the finger pointing and somewhat bizarre situations surrounding both Scangarello and Shurmur – this is a switch that makes sense in Denver.

Besides, if the firing of Scangarello and hiring of Shurmur says one thing about the Broncos, it’s that they’re becoming more willing to own a mistake sooner. That might be a subtle notation, one that won’t show up in any sort of stat or ranking, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. For years now, the man pushing the buttons in Denver – ehem, that would be John Elway – has seemingly been reluctant to pull the ripcord on blunders. There are many reasons a franchise has three consecutive losing seasons, but a tendency to ride lame horses for far too long is certainly one of them in Denver.

Every GM in the NFL misses here and there. Elway is no different in that respect. His last two drafts have been excellent. Before that, they’ve been littered with mistakes. His free agency signings are a mixed bag, as are his coaching hires. But it’s how long those errors have been given to develop, improve or mature is where the bigger mistake has been made in some instances.

Vance Joseph was given a year more than he should have. It took too long to sit down Adam Gotsis and bring in Mike Purcell, too many snaps to realize that Josey Jewell wasn’t a starting middle linebacker and that Alexander Johnson was. Both Drew Lock and Brandon Allen, turns out, were better than Joe Flacco (if Flacco hadn’t been hurt, would we have ever found out?).

The list goes on, and whether it’s Elway or Fangio ultimately deciding to make a switch, one thing is for sure: In retrospect, many changes should have happened sooner than they did.

Hiring Shurmur feels like a reversal of that trend. It’s undeniable that offense was a point of weakness for the Broncos in 2019 (arguably one of the biggest understatements ever written), so addressing the problem immediately should be commended.

And the good news for Shurmur, is that the Broncos offense simply cannot be any worse. The only place to go is up.

With a capable, gunslinger quarterback at his disposal, Pat Shurmur is the right man to put the O back in BroncOS.

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