Denver Broncos: Who is Rich Scangarello as an offensive coordinator?

OAKLAND, CA - 2009: Rich Scangarello of the Oakland Raiders poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Oakland, California. (Photo by NFL Photos)
OAKLAND, CA - 2009: Rich Scangarello of the Oakland Raiders poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Oakland, California. (Photo by NFL Photos) /

Who is Rich Scangarello and why are the Denver Broncos trying to hire him as their offensive coordinator? We take a look at the candidate.

Just about every NFL coach has a unique origin story, but Rich Scangarello’s climb through the coaching ranks has been a particularly interesting one.

Scangarello is the leading (and possibly only) candidate for the Denver Broncos’ vacant offensive coordinator position, a role that was originally supposed to be filled by former head coach Gary Kubiak.

He has been working the past two years under Kyle Shanahan but has admired him for much longer.

Scangarello broke into the coaching world back in the late 1990s when he coached J.T. O’Sullivan and Kevin Daft — both NFL Draft picks — at UC Davis. He worked with Idaho for a year, then went to Minnesota to coach a small-school offense at Carleton.

He went back to Idaho for two years after that, and then spent 2004-08 back at UC Davis. It was after this stint that he got his first job in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, working on Tom Cable’s staff as an offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks coach.

That year with Oakland was extremely valuable for Scangarello getting his feet wet in the NFL and getting to know some of the coaches he modeled his coaching style after. At the time, Kyle Shanahan was fresh off of a very successful rookie season as a coordinator in the NFL with the Houston Texans under his dad’s old pal Gary Kubiak.

After his one year in Oakland, Scangarello spent a couple of seasons coaching Division III football at Millsaps (Mississippi).

From there, he moved on to an offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach position at Northern Arizona where he was from 2012-14. All the while, he continued to study Shanahan’s offense and implement the concepts he was observing from afar.

"“I started to model my offense after his,” he said. “It’s what I always believed from afar. The truth is that I taught off of his film and he didn’t even know it for years.”Rich Scangarello (Sacramento Bee)"

When the opportunity to work with Shanahan popped up, Scangarello would have done just about anything. He took the only job the Falcons had available as an offensive quality control coach working with the offensive line and finally got some first-hand experience in Shanahan’s offense.

That experience, Scangarello recalls, was what ‘completed the cycle’ for him as far as the concepts he’d been using but perhaps not fully understanding as an offensive coordinator.

After one year with the Falcons, Scangarello had to take another college coordinator job because there was nothing available (as far as a promotion) with the Falcons and financially things weren’t going to work out for another full season.

So, again, he relocated. This time he took a coaching position at Wagner, an FCS school in New York.

The very next year, Shanahan took his first ever head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers and he brought on Scangarello as his quarterback’s coach. That year in Atlanta was huge for Scangarello in making an impression on the guy who would eventually hire him for what was probably at the time a dream job.

Scangarello is not a typical first-time quarterbacks coach. He’s not a young 30-something or even 20-something who was a college player who didn’t pan out in the league. He’s just a guy who knows the game, loves the game, works hard, and has an eye for talent.

He clearly knows how to develop quarterbacks, too.

The 49ers brought in C.J. Beathard in 2017 and traded for Jimmy Garoppolo in the middle of the season. With Shanahan and Scangarello’s development, Beathard set rookie records for the 49ers and Garoppolo was obviously put in a great position to succeed.

In 2018, Scangarello was the one who identified and targeted Nick Mullens, a quarterback prospect who ‘looked like he was about 15 years old’ according to 49ers general manager John Lynch.

Scangarello saw something in Mullens, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by San Francisco after coming in for a pre-draft meeting in which Lynch recalls having to excuse himself from the meeting to ask if his team’s quarterbacks coach was serious about interviewing this kid that no one else had on their radar.

It turned out Scangarello’s instinct on Mullens was right on. The rookie ended up starting eight games for the 49ers this year, winning three and completing over 64 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

He played arguably his best game of the year against the Broncos.

Having fully immersed himself in Shanahan’s offense, Scangarello has had plenty of time to adapt his style and bring to the table pretty much exactly what the Broncos have coveted. Their offense has been a predictable, old, pro-style system with West Coast roots.

Scangarello is coming from the Shanahan tree where the West Coast offense and traditional zone blocking, vintage Denver offense has evolved. There will be familiar concepts, but even though the 49ers haven’t won a lot of games over the last two years, Shanahan’s offensive concepts have been just fine and he’s done what he can with all of the injuries that team has suffered.

Scangarello seems to favor an aggressive offensive attack that fits the players he’s coaching. His expertise with the quarterback position is also a huge plus for the Broncos considering they are looking to bring in a young quarterback through the 2019 NFL Draft.

Scangarello has a chance to really prove himself in a somewhat difficult situation in Denver, but there will be a great support system around him.

Having Mike Munchak as the offensive line coach helps, and the Broncos have a number of strong position coaches in running backs coach Curtis Modkins and wide receivers coach Zach Azzani.

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The more I read about Scangarello, the more he sounds like just the candidate the Broncos need.