There was a lot going on for the Denver Broncos in the 2020 offseason. Just as it appeared as though the Houston Texans were about to upset the Kansas City Chiefs in impressive fashion in the playoffs, everybody started getting notifications on their devices that the Broncos had moved on from first-year offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, a branch of the Shanahan coaching tree.
The news of Vic Fangio -- the Broncos' head coach at the time -- firing Scangarello was not altogether surprising, and given the timing, people started quickly putting the two-and-two together of what Fangio might be doing. Clearly preferring a veteran staff while John Elway wanted to see some of those "glory days" offenses back in Denver again, Fangio moved quickly to hire Shurmur, who had recently been fired as head coach of the New York Giants.
There was some excitement, at the time, over having such a veteran-laden coaching staff. Although Vic Fangio was only coming off of his first year as an NFL head coach, he obviously had a wealth of experience at the time and the coaching staff also included the likes of Mike Munchak on the offensive line, a Hall of Famer as a player and someone who had been widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the league.
When Fangio moved to hire Pat Shurmur, it was a move signaling the young Denver Broncos roster was about to learn from one of the oldest coaching staffs in the league. Shurmur certainly brought a wealth of experience to Denver, and the problem ended up being how often he let the players know about it.
The first year of Pat Shurmur in Denver was a complete cluster. The 2020 NFL season itself was a shambles, but Shurmur was tasked with developing young Drew Lock into the team's franchise QB. It sounds a lot funnier now in hindsight.
As big of a failure as the 2020 season was for the Denver Broncos' offense, which ranked 28th in the league in scoring and dead last in turnovers, it was even more frustrating in 2021 when the arrival of Teddy Bridgewater brought along with it the promised of a more efficient offense. The Broncos improved from 28th in the league in scoring to 23rd. They were only slightly better on third downs and in the red zone than they were the year prior, despite cutting the turnovers considerably.
The Broncos won just seven games in 2021 with the 3rd-ranked defense in the entire NFL. Vic Fangio was scapegoated in a way, although you could make a compelling argument that the only reason Vic was fired in 2022 was because the Broncos felt that Nathaniel Hackett could also help the team land Aaron Rodgers. If that was the shot they took, they missed badly.
A lot of times, the offensive coordinator is a scapegoat for poor personnel on that side of the ball, but I don't know that was 100 percent the case with Pat Shurmur. Shurmur was constantly being accused (rightfully so) of not properly using personnel offensively, specifically Jerry Jeudy who infamously quipped on social media after a game that he at least got "conditioning" in, a jab at the fact that he was constantly being sent in motion behind the line of scrimmage without actually being used in the offense.
The Broncos had a steady diet of "run-run-pass" under Pat Shurmur, a recipe for disaster for just about any offense. One of his favorite plays to dial up seemed to be the run on second-and-long.
Needless to say, Pat Shurmur was not the most beloved offensive coordinator in recent memory for the Denver Broncos, and even if some of the scathing reviews from fans are slightly unfair, nobody is wishing they could bring back the 2020-21 offenses. As a matter of fact, a lot of people say they would have rather seen more of Scangarello.
Well, Shurmur is back in the state of Colorado, only this time he's working for Deion Sanders with the CU Buffaloes program.
Good for Shurmur landing another gig, one that could legitimately push him forward in the college coaching ranks if he wants.