Newly minted general manager George Paton came to town excited about the team’s roster. He referred to the Denver Broncos roster as a ‘sleeping giant’ in his introductory press conference. That sentiment got louder with (at the time) strong offseason moves to strengthen the defense.

After a strong start to the season, the Broncos are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Sadly, another loss seems likely as the team goes up against another playoff contender.

After two losing seasons under his belt, Vic Fangio’s coaching seat is heating up. Although there is no public ultimatum being placed before the coaching staff to win now, Broncos Country is calling for change.

Like the Broncos, when the Cleveland Browns faced a difficult decision with an underperforming group. Cleveland moved on from their head coach mid-season back in 2018. With Hugh Jackson at the helm, the Browns had endured a rough two-year stretch on top of numerous seasons of futility.

The Browns believed their roster was better than their record and made a move after six games to hire a new head coach, a similar place the Denver find itself in this week.

Sound familiar Broncos Country?

There are a lot of cries for Paton to make a similar move.

Often in-season change is necessary, but not in every circumstance.

Here are the pros and cons to George Paton making a move to release Fangio of his duties.

Pros to making a change at head coach

First things first, data suggests that teams’ win rate grows significantly after making in-season changes. The Action Network identified that since 2003, 30 teams have moved on from their head coach midseason. Those teams had a winning percentage of 26.7 percent and it jumped to 46.6 percent after the change.

The overall win percentage may not impress, but that level of improvement is significant.

Second, the Broncos front office can immediately conduct a coaching search without using back channels to do so. This allows the team to get a head start on research and begin to identify their top targets. For an organization whose appeal has diminished, this would give it every chance to maximize its sell while teams who wait to fire coaches after the season will have to make a rushed and imperfect pitch.

Finally, making a move at the top sends a message to the team. It could convey that the performance on the field and/or in the locker room is not up to the standard of the organization. It also does not scapegoat assistant coaches or players as the main issue in the team’s poor performance. Fangio was provided a good roster in the image of his defensive prowess and has gotten minimal results as of late. With questionable game management skills, if the defense cannot be elite what benefit does he provide this team?

Cons to Broncos moving on from Fangio

Could this team experience a big jump in play if they moved on from Fangio? Simply put, not likely. Though data suggests a midseason can benefit a low-performing roster, this team currently sits at .500. Expecting a move towards the .700 winning percentage is unrealistic.

Additionally, the team would need to use an in-house option to take over head coaching duties. Meaning, a staff member will double up their responsibilities as a coordinator or positional coach while managing the entire team as well. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have previous head coaching experience but are overseeing two massively underperforming units. As the offense, defense, and special teams have all taken a nosedive of late, neither group seems to have a rising star to anoint to the head spot.

While sending a message to your team about their play could motivate them to play better it also may convey panic. Paton had a chance to move on from Fangio when he was hired. Choosing to do so midseason could also indicate that his plan was flawed and he’s over his head in his general manager role.

Lastly, The Browns fired their headman midseason and moved to Freddie Kitchens. His tenure lasted one season and the team needed a second coaching change to arrive at contender status. Making a move for the sake of doing something rarely works out. Paton should only fire Fangio if is simply a calculated step in the overall process.


In the end, the Broncos need to shake up this franchise. Paton was brought here to help create stability and forge a culture of winning. As the team sits now, it is unstable and the culture is wavering.

Paton could feel he gave Fangio the best roster he’s had during his three-year tenure. Fangio was also provided his choice of each of the three coordinators, each is of whom the team is unable to produce. Paton making an in-season change could signal to the team it’s time for a fresh perspective and this season is not over yet.

There are two times Paton would be most likely to make a move. First, right after this Thursday’s matchup versus the Browns. Four losses in a row with 10 games to play gives Paton the out he needs. It also provides the team with enough games left to possibly rebound and make a playoff push. The second time would be at the beginning of the bye week. This allows the team to adjust to the interim head coach’s new approach.