Vic Fangio and Pat Shurmur – Here to stay in 2021

Denver Broncos HC Vic Fangio Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos HC Vic Fangio Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

In 2019, Vic Fangio’s first year as head coach of the Denver Broncos, the team made great improvements in a few ways.

In two years under Vance Joseph, the Denver Broncos were able to muster five wins in 2017 and six wins in 2018.  In Vic Fangio’s first year, the team finished 4-1 down the stretch en route to seven wins, and while there was only a one-win difference between 2019 and 2018, the team showed clear improvement.

One of the brightest spots was when Drew Lock took over for the team with five games to play. It was clear from his first start that the offense was simply more efficient with Lock at quarterback.  In Lock’s first five starts, he finished with seven TDs, three INTS, and a rating of 89.7.  For a rookie, these were very promising numbers.

2020 has obviously been less kind to Lock, and his stats thus far aren’t pretty, but I’ve talked and written about why this year is unlike the rest and will talk about why offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and head coach Vic Fangio aren’t going anywhere in 2021.

I understand fans’ frustrations when we lose ugly to teams like the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, but what I do not understand and have stopped paying attention to is the “fire everybody” crowd, because these arguments are usually rooted in knee-jerk, emotional reactions instead of hard evidence.

In my opinion, the truth is if we fire Fangio and Shurmur, this team will be set back another two years, and Lock will never develop.  I get that many people do not believe Lock is worth much and won’t develop into the guy, but 2020 has been tough on Lock, and evaluating his future with the team based on this season is simply not fair.

From COVID, to learning a new offense, losing your best weapon, and no preseason, this has been about the worst year imaginable for a young, developing quarterback.

If 2021 is anything close to being more normal, Lock should get another shot as our starting QB, and Fangio and Shurmur should get another shot as well.

In August, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports ranked us as the top young offensive core going into the season, and according to Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice, the Broncos boast the seventh youngest team overall, as of September 5th, 2020.

So what does that all mean?

With a young team, and I mean a young team, the Broncos would benefit from keeping proven veteran coaches like Fangio and Shurmur around for another year at least.  Fangio, before coming to Denver, was widely regarded as the best defensive mind in football, and Shurmur has had success developing quarterbacks, most recently Daniel Jones in 2019, who put up surprisingly solid numbers.

With a young and growing team, there are bound to be growing pains, and besides injuries, the Broncos have seen their fair share of growing pains, especially on offense.  While the comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers was awesome, and the near-comeback against the Atlanta Falcons would have been stellar, there is no reason why we should not have been able to put up more points in the first three quarters.

And mistake-riddled games like our first game against the Chiefs and Raiders showed that this team has to be more disciplined overall.

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As fans, what and who would make the most sense to lead this team?  A clean-cut, 35-year-old offensive mind with limited coaching experience, or a tough, rugged, proven coach who has had success in the NFL for decades?  In my opinion, I’d take the latter.

This is no diss at the likes of Sean McVay or Matt LaFleur, as those men are both elite NFL minds, but they have also surrounded their players with veteran coaches.

Fans could very well make an argument that we should clean house and bring in one of those offensive minds, but the Broncos run the risk of simply hiring a bad coach and risk being irrelevant for another four years.

With that being said, for the sake of consistency, continuity, and development, Fangio and Shurmur should and will get another year with the team.  If we have similar results next year, I am all for a change, but the 2020 NFL season has presented unprecedented challenges that should not entirely be held against any coaching staff.

Go Broncos.