Pat Shurmur

Broncos Fire HC Vic Fangio, Will Not Retain OC Pat Shurmur

The Broncos have fired head coach Vic Fangio, per Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Fangio lasted three seasons in his post but failed to get his club to the playoffs in that time, so GM George Paton felt compelled to make a move. Mike Klis of 9News.com reports (via Twitter) that the team will also part ways with OC Pat Shurmur.

Denver lost its 2021 finale to the Chiefs last night, and in his postgame presser, Fangio lamented the fact that the other three clubs in the AFC West boast a top-flight quarterback, something the Broncos did not have during his tenure. Denver did select Drew Lock in the second round of the 2019 draft, Fangio’s first as a head coach, and while Lock presently looks like another QB misstep in the John Elway-as-GM era, the inability of Fangio and his staff to develop the Missouri passer certainly contributed to Fangio’s demise.

Offensive ineptitude was, unfortunately, a hallmark of the Fangio regime. As Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post observes, the Broncos failed to score 20 points in a game 29 times in Fangio’s 49 games as head coach, and after a bottom-five showing in terms of both total offense and points per game in 2019, Fangio fired then-OC Rich Scangarello and replaced him with Shurmur, who had just been axed as head coach of the Giants.

The Broncos’ offensive output marginally improved during Shurmur’s time as OC, but it was simply not enough for either him or Fangio to keep their jobs (Shurmur’s contract was reportedly for two years, so Denver will simply let his deal expire). Fangio’s refusal to pull play-calling duties from Shurmur caused some locker room tension earlier this year, and while Shurmur was a hot offensive coordinator candidate before he accepted the post with the Broncos, his stock has likely dropped quite a bit.

Fangio, though, should land on his feet. We previously heard that the acclaimed defensive mind, who has served as DC of the Panthers, Colts, Texans, 49ers, and Bears, would be in high demand for a defensive coordinator position if he were to be fired by the Broncos, so he can probably expect a few interview requests in short order. The Broncos finished the 2021 campaign with a top-three defense in terms of points allowed per game.

Paton will have full authority to select the next head coach, as team president/CEO Joe Ellis confirmed in a statement. Paton’s reputation, along with the Broncos’ history and a roster that appears to be just a quarterback away from legitimate contention — something that Paton will try to rectify this offseason — should allow the club to attract any number of top-tier candidates. Albert Breer of SI.com identifies Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett and Cowboys DC Dan Quinn as possible targets, and Quinn and Paton do have a history that dates back to their days with the Dolphins in 2005.

However, Paton may elect to move forward with an offensive-minded candidate, which could give the edge to Hackett or someone like Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich. Though the Broncos could be sold as soon as the spring (per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports), the imminent prospect of new ownership is not likely to deter candidates for the HC job.

Fangio’s statement on his dismissal can be found here, and Paton’s can be found here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos OC Pat Shurmur In COVID-19 Protocols, Unlikely To Coach In Week 10

Coming off their best performance of the season, the Broncos are unlikely to have their play-caller for Week 10’s follow-up effort. Pat Shurmur is in the team’s COVID-19 protocols, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Denver’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, Shurmur is not expected to be with the team when it faces the Eagles on Sunday. This opens a clear play-calling void for the Broncos, who have won two straight to reach 5-4. Shurmur tested positive for COVID-19, Vic Fangio said Friday.

Shurmur’s former lieutenant with the Giants, Mike Shula, looms as a clear prospect to call plays. Shula has been the Broncos’ quarterbacks coach for the past two seasons. While Shula served as Shurmur’s OC with the Giants from 2018-19, he spent the previous five seasons calling the Panthers’ plays as their OC. With that stint including Carolina’s 15-1 season, Shula certainly makes sense as an emergency play-caller here.

Shula will relay plays to Teddy Bridgewater, per Fangio (via 9News’ Mike Klis, on Twitter). It should then be expected the former OC will call plays Sunday, though Fangio said Friday he is not certain who will do so.

The Broncos also have former head coach Mike Munchak as their offensive line coach and ex-OC Curtis Modkins coaching running backs, giving the team other options for Sunday. The Broncos certainly will not be the first to go into a game without their play-caller due to COVID, with the Browns and Cardinals having also done so since the pandemic began.

Denver has run into a few coronavirus issues recently, one of which sidelining Noah Fant for last week’s game in Dallas. Fant and guard Netane Muti are off the team’s COVID list, though linebacker Justin Strnad, offensive lineman Austin Schlottmann and IR-stationed cornerback Michael Ojemudia were placed on the list this week. Drew Lock also tested positive in Dallas and flew back to Denver separately Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Broncos HC Vic Fangio

Vic Fangio has been on the hot seat since the offseason, and his seat has gotten a bit warmer during an active four-game losing streak. While the Broncos head coach has certainly lost the trust of the fans, it sounds like he’s also losing his locker room. According to Adam H. Beasley of ProFootballNetwork.com, “Fangio’s message is growing stale” and the HC is quickly losing a “segment” of his squad.

The latest hit was when the Broncos let the Browns’ backups beat them on Thursday Night Football. As Beasley writes, Fangio’s refusal to pull play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is one topic of contention. Denver has only scored 64 points over the past four games.

“We have to rally,” Fangio said (via Beasley). “We have to overcome our injuries. They can’t use them as excuses. We have to get back to playing better football as a team. Make more first downs, which will lead to touchdowns on offense. Play the run better on defense so that you do not get so many third-and-ones and third-and-twos.

“We just have to play better, and we have to coach better. I do not want to be remiss in saying that. We have to coach better, and we have got to adjust to what we have right now.”

Fangio went 12-20 through his first two seasons as head coach, including a disappointing 5-11 record in 2020. While the coach seemed to acknowledge that he’d on the hot seat, he also said his only focus is ending Denver’s losing streak.

“I’m not worried about my coaching status,” Fangio said (via Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press). “What I’m worried about is this team and doing anything and everything we can to get our guys coached up to play better. And that’s my only focus.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teddy Bridgewater Discusses Broncos QB Competition

The Broncos may have made a trade for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but that doesn’t mean the veteran is going to run away with the starting gig. Rather, he’ll have to compete with 2020 starter Drew Lock, with head coach Vic Fangio recently saying that the two signal-callers will split reps during OTAs and training camp.

[RELATED: Broncos To Split QB Reps 50-50 Between Lock, Bridgewater]

While Bridgewater has the experience on his side, he’s not taking anything for granted as he competes with Lock for the top spot on the depth chart. Rather, the 28-year-old said he’s always had the mindset of having to compete for his job.

“Every day I wake up, I consider myself competing for my job,” Bridgewater told the team’s website. “I think that’s the mindset of everyone who plays this game. Whether I was penciled in as being the starter or if I had to compete, my mindset is this is a competition. … In this league, so much happens.

“Of course, that’s my mindset [to start], but at the same time, I have to take it one day at a time and continue to be the best teammate I can be today and let tomorrow take care of itself.”

Lock only has 18 career starts to his credit, but it’s been a mixed bag when he’s under center. In 13 games last season, the Missouri product threw 16 TD passes against a league-worst 15 picks, leading to a poor 75.4 quarterback rating. Bridgewater was a a little better in his lone season in Carolina, but his 2020 campaign can fairly be characterized as disappointing as well, especially when measured against the three-year, $63MM contract he signed with the Panthers last offseason. Bridgewater ultimately finished the campaign having completed 69.1-percent of his passes for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

For what it’s worth, Bridgewater doesn’t have much catching up to do when it comes to scheme, as the quarterback worked with Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur when the two were in Minnesota.

“It’s helped a lot,” Bridgewater said. “There is some carryover from my days in Minnesota, but at the same time, a lot has changed. I’ve been in a couple of different systems. I see players that I’m familiar with and it’s been a smooth transition with the install.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Shurmur, Jets, Rams

Michigan State continues to look for a replacement for Mark Dantonio, and Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the school was eyeing veteran coach Pat Shurmur.

Fortunately for Denver, the 54-year-old is staying put. Klis notes that Shurmur is “all in” on the Broncos organization, and he’ll continue as the team’s offensive coordinator. It wasn’t even a month ago that Shurmur replaced Rich Scangarello in the role.

Shurmur is best known for his stint as the Giants head coach, but he actually got started in the coaching ranks at Michigan State. He started off as a graduate assistant before coaching tight ends, offensive lineman, and special teams. In total, Shurmur was with the school between 1988 and 1997.

Let’s check out some more coaching notes from around the league…

  • The Jets announced this evening (on Twitter) that they’ve added Leigh Torrence as an assistant defensive backs coach. Brian Costello of the New York Post observes that Torrence played for Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams when the two were in New Orleans (Twitter link). The 38-year-old spent the past two seasons as a defensive assistant with the Saints.
  • Jonathan Cooley is joining the Rams coaching staff as a defensive assistant/quality control coach, reports Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (on Twitter). The former Akron cornerbacks coach was selected by the NFL for the 2019 Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.
  • We learned earlier tonight that the Jaguars were adding former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo as their new quarterbacks coach.

Extra Points: Dak, Shurmur, Browns, 49ers

Dak Prescott‘s second contract has been a front-burner matter in NFL news cycles for nearly a year, but the Cowboys and their starting quarterback remain apart on terms. The four-year starter’s demands were north of $30MM AAV last year, and they were believed to be in the range of Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-per-year amount. While it’s uncertain if the Cowboys are comfortable getting to that figure, they will not have to go too much higher. Prescott is not asking to become the league’s first $40MM-per-year player, Jay Glazer of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Patrick Mahomes is the leading candidate to get there first, but while the Chiefs’ superstar passer is barely a month into his extension-eligible period, Prescott is 13-plus months into that window. After talks centering around a $33MM-per-year accord broke down during the season, the franchise tag now looks like a real possibility.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • After Joe Woods agreed to become the Browns‘ defensive coordinator, he has already secured one 49ers assistant to make the trip to Cleveland with him. Woods will bring in 49ers pass rush specialist Chris Kiffin to serve as Browns defensive line coach, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio reports (on Twitter). The son of longtime NFL DC Monte Kiffin and younger brother of Lane Kiffin, Chris spent the past two seasons with the 49ers. Previously Lane’s DC at Florida Atlantic, Chris has spent most of his career at the college level.
  • The 49ers appear to have a replacement lined up. Aaron Whitecotton will join San Francisco’s defensive staff, per Marvez. A Bills assistant for three seasons, Whitecotton worked with 49ers DC Robert Saleh for four seasons in Jacksonville prior to relocating to Buffalo.
  • Despite indicating his coordinators would return for the 2020 season, Broncos HC Vic Fangio‘s change of heart led for a Rich Scangarello-to-Pat Shurmur transition. Fangio decided a few days after making that proclamation he would fire Scangarello, and Shurmur will become the Broncos’ fifth offensive coordinator since 2016. The ex-Giants and Browns HC’s experience pushed Fangio to hire him. “The experience was an extra crumb that Pat has,” Fangio said, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (subscription required). “I think Pat’s in his early 50s (54) and has coached 20 years, but if he was in his early 40s and coached 10 years, he still would have been the right guy for the job. … Once I decided to make the move, he was the first guy I called.” Fangio and Shurmur coached against each other in the NFC North for two seasons from 2016-17, when Shurmur was Minnesota’s OC.

Coaching Notes: Giants, O’Connell, Browns

Since former Mississippi State coworker Joe Judge landed the Giants‘ HC job, Freddie Kitchens has been linked to a staff position. A report circulated Tuesday indicating Judge will hire Kitchens for an unspecified role (Twitter link via AL.com), but ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan tweets nothing is finalized between the Giants and the former Browns coach. The Giants have hired a quarterbacks coach, Jerry Schuplinski, but certainly could add the longtime offensive assistant in another capacity.

Here is the latest from the coaching carousel:

  • Before deciding to reunite with Scott Turner, Ron Rivera interviewed 2019 Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell for the job, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes. Rivera was interested in former Giants HC Pat Shurmur for OC, but he declined the interview and opted for the Broncos’ play-calling job. O’Connell landed on his feet as well, becoming the Rams’ offensive coordinator.
  • While the Kitchens hire is not yet certain, veteran secondary coach Jerome Henderson will be joining Judge’s Giants staff, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Most recently the Falcons’ DBs coach/defensive passing-game coordinator, the 50-year-old Henderson has also coached the Jets’, Browns’ and Cowboys’ secondaries dating back to 2008. Henderson was a 1991 first-round pick who played eight NFL seasons.
  • The Giants will also add Jody Wright to their staff, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman (Twitter link). Wright worked with Judge at Mississippi State in the 2000s and was most recently an offensive assistant with the Browns under Kitchens in 2019. Wright also spent time at Alabama during the 2010s and was an assistant head coach at UAB prior to relocating to Cleveland.
  • On the subject of the Browns, they are not retaining several Kitchens staffers. Most notably, Kevin Stefanski will not bring back quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Lindley, tight ends coach John Lilly, assistant defensive line coach John Parella and quality control staffers Deuce Schwartz, Tyler Tettleton and Alonso Escalante will not be back. Lindley, 30, served as Browns running backs coach after Kitchens was promoted to OC midway through the 2018 season, and the former quarterback held Cleveland’s QBs coach job this past season.
  • The Cardinals hired another recent Browns staffer, bringing in offensive assistant Jim Dray, Yates adds. A former Cardinals seventh-round pick in 2010 as a tight end, Dray played eight seasons — mostly in Arizona and Cleveland — and wound up with the Browns in 2019 as an offensive quality control coach.
  • Recently notified he was out in Cleveland, James Campen may have an opportunity with Carolina. The Panthers are interested in the former Browns offensive line coach, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets. Campen was Mike McCarthy‘s offensive line coach from 2007-18 and spent 15 years as a Green Bay assistant prior to his Cleveland move last year. The Browns hired Bill Callahan to replace him on Monday.

Coaching Notes: Giants, Kitchens, Cowboys

The Giants have interviewed both former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and incumbent offensive coordinator Mike Shula for their vacant OC position, but new head coach Joe Judge may have a few other names in mind, as well. Judge is interested in speaking to ex-Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and former Dolphins OC Chad O’Shea about positions on his staff, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Kitchens served as the Browns’ offensive play-caller during the latter portion of the 2018 campaign before becoming head coach in 2019, while O’Shea lasted only one year in Miami. Both could presumably also be considered as position coaches on Judge’s staff.

Here’s more from the coaching circuit:

  • The Broncos have formally announced the addition of former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur as their new offensive coordinator, and Shurmur will receive a two-year contract, tweets Mike Klis of 9 News. Shurmur reportedly had other offers on the table, but chose the opportunity in Denver after the Broncos surprisingly fired first-year play-caller Rich Scangarello earlier this week. A longtime NFL OC, Shurmur will bring in his own quarterbacks coach, as incumbent T.C. McCartney has been fired, per Benjamin Allbright (Twitter link).
  • Former Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada has been hired as the Steelers‘ new quarterbacks coach, the club announced. Pittsburgh did not have a formal QBs coach in 2019, as offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner held the role. Canada, who has a long history of coaching in the collegiate ranks, took over as the Terrapins’ interim coach in 2018 after D.J. Durkin was placed on administrative leave.
  • New Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has hired Skip Peete as running backs coach, reports Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Peete, who previously coached in Dallas from 2007-12, spent the last four seasons with the Rams, and also has experience with the Raiders and Bears. He’ll be replacing Gary Brown, who had taken over for Peete in 2013.
  • The Panthers requested permission to interview Saints assistant offensive line coach Brendan Nugent, but New Orleans rejected the ask because Carolina is a division rival, according to Jeff Duncan of The Athletic (Twitter link), who adds Nugent is a longtime friend of new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Nugent previously spent time with the Bears as well as in the collegiate ranks.
  • Michigan linebackers coach Anthony Campanile is joining the Dolphins‘ staff in an as-yet unspecified role, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Campanile recently turned down an opportunity to become the defensive coordinator at Rutgets, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Bears Hire Bill Lazor As OC

The Bears fired offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at the end of the 2019 season, and they have now filled their vacancy. Chicago has hired former Dolphins and Bengals OC Bill Lazor to replace Helfrich, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Lazor, 47, was hired as Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach in 2016 but ended up taking over as the team’s play-caller three games into the 2017 campaign. In 2018, his first full season as the Bengals’ OC, Lazor led a unit which ranked 17th in points, 19th in DVOA (efficiency), and 26th in yardage. In his first year as Miami’s OC, 2014, the ‘Fins finished 8th in DVOA, but they plummeted to 22nd the following year and Lazor was given the boot.

Part of Lazor’s responsibilities in Chicago will include getting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky back on track — assuming the Bears stick with Trubisky as their starter — and helping fix an offense that finished the 2019 season 29th in total offense, 31st in yards per play, and 29th in scoring. Head coach Matt Nagy, though, will retain play-calling duties.

Per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears were interested in Pat Shurmur for their OC job, but Shurmur was recently hired by the Broncos, for whom he will call offensive plays. The presence of Nagy as play-caller and Trubisky under center could be a deterrent for the upper echelon of OC candidates, which may be why the team had to opt for a second-tier choice in Lazor.

Lazor was out of the league in 2019, though he did interview for the Redskins’ quarterbacks coach job last January.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Hire Pat Shurmur As OC

Pat Shurmur wasn’t out of a job too long. Less than two weeks after being fired as head coach of the Giants, Shurmur has agreed to become the new offensive coordinator of the Broncos, sources told Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

Garafolo notes that the deal isn’t officially set yet, but that Shurmur has accepted the job. Despite getting run out of New York he was a pretty hot name. We heard recently that four different teams had expressed interest in Shurmur as an OC, and the Redskins were reportedly sniffing around before hiring Scott Turner. Denver surprisingly elected to fire Rich Scangarello earlier today, and they moved quickly to lock up Shurmur.

Shurmur’s reputation took a hit during his time with the Giants, but it wasn’t too long ago that he was receiving a ton of praise for his work in helping guide Case Keenum to the NFC Championship game with the Vikings. That performance landed him the job in New York, but he flamed out while going 9-23 in two years.

Shurmur is a veteran play-caller, and has served as an offensive coordinator with the Rams and Eagles as well as being a head coach with the Browns for two years in 2011 and 2012. Denver started three different quarterbacks last year, but they hit a bit of a groove down the stretch with rookie Drew Lock under center. Shurmur will now be responsible for Lock’s development.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.