Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors since 1999
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Just 14 days after saying he expected all three of his coordinators back for the 2020 season, Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio fired offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after one season and is finalizing a deal to make former New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur his new play-caller.
The team officially announced the Scangarello move Sunday afternoon. Just a few hours later, sources confirmed to ESPN an NFL Network report that Shurmur would replace him.
The sides are expected to finalize a deal in the coming days, sources said. Shurmur had interest from several teams, including the Chicago Bears, since he was fired by the Giants after a 4-12 finish in his second year.
"After a lot of consideration and discussion after the season, I determined that a change at offensive coordinator ultimately would be best for our team," Fangio said in a statement announcing the Scangarello move. "We need to do everything we can to get better -- in all areas -- as we start working toward next year. Rich is a bright coach with a great future ahead of him. I appreciate all of his hard work and thank him for his contributions to the Broncos.''
Shurmur will be the Broncos' fifth offensive coordinator in the past five years. Denver was the only team in the league that finished this season in the bottom five in points scored, total offense, third-down percentage and red zone success.
However, the day after they ended a 7-9 campaign, Fangio was asked if he expected the team's offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator (Ed Donatell) and special teams coordinator (Tom McMahon) back for next season.
"I do,'' he said Dec. 30. "All these guys will -- we have a good staff. I'm sure some opportunities will come up for some guys. We'll deal with those as they come.''
Fangio also said Scangarello and rookie quarterback Drew Lock had developed a "good trust'' with each other. However, after meetings and evaluations of the team's performance, Fangio pivoted as he informed Scangarello of the decision to fire him while reeling in Shurmur.
The Broncos finished 28th in total offense (298.6 yards per game) and scoring (17.6) this season, as well as 30th on third down and 28th in red zone efficiency. The team scored 16 or fewer points in eight games, including seven of their nine losses.
Shurmur is known to have scouted Lock extensively before last April's NFL draft, and some of his close associates in the league said Sunday they believed he preferred Lock over Daniel Jones, whom the Giants selected in the first round.
Shurmur was the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator in 2013 and '14, when they finished fourth and third, respectively, in the league in points scored. He was the Vikings' offensive coordinator in 2017, when Minnesota finished 10th in the league in scoring with backup Case Keenum making 14 starts at quarterback.
Fangio, as the Bears' defensive coordinator, faced the Vikings twice a season when Shurmur was calling plays in Minnesota in 2016 and '17.
Scangarello, 47, had been in his first season as an NFL play-caller after a long career in college football. Because of his time with Kyle Shanahan on the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers' staffs, he had the offensive scheme Fangio and Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway had said they wanted, resulting in them signing him to a two-year deal.
But the Broncos got off to an 0-4 start and after their Week 8 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis, quarterback Joe Flacco criticized the team's play-calling as too conservative.
Fangio wanted a more experienced play-caller who can bring an increased downfield element in the passing game as well as implementing some of the jet motion and open formations the best offenses in the league employ.
Both Fangio and Elway said after the season that improving the offense's production was a priority, and both noted the Broncos' ability to "handle'' the Kansas City Chiefs would be key in trying to win the AFC West. The Broncos were outscored 53-9 combined in two losses to the Chiefs.
Shurmur's ability to develop Lock will be key. The Broncos went 4-1 in the QB's five starts to close the season, and Elway has said it would be "unrealistic'' to say Lock will not be the starter next season.
Shurmur will now follow Rick Dennison (2016), Mike McCoy (2017), Bill Musgrave (2018) and Scangarello (2019) as Denver's offensive coordinators.