The Vic Fangio era in Denver got off to a slow start, as the Broncos finished 7-9 and missed the postseason for the fourth year in a row. While Fangio is a defensive-minded head coach, he’s turned his attention to the other side of the ball, and brought in someone who can help take this offensive unit to the next level. Last month, the Broncos hired former New York Giants to serve as Denver’s new offensive coordinator. Shurmur reportedly had offers from multiple teams but chose the Broncos in large part because of quarterback Drew Lock.
Fangio hopes putting Lock and Shurmur together will result in a powerful offense that can take the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
“Contrary to the stereotype that’s always out there, you know, defensive head coach, you know, wants to ground and pound, considers the pitch to the halfback a pass — that’s not me,” Fangio told reporters on Thursday,. “I like to be aggressive.”
The Broncos were one of the worst offenses in the league this year, and averaged just 298.6 yards per game. Only four teams averaged less yards per game in 2019. Denver averaged 17.6 points per game this season, and it took them until Week 4 to score more than 20 points in a single game.
Things did change when Lock was inserted into the starting lineup, as he won four out of his first five starts. The second-round pick out of Missouri passed for a total of 1,020 yards, seven touchdowns and just three interceptions in those five games. He showed off his big arm on multiple occasions, and it’s something that Shurmur plans on featuring in 2020.
“I think it’s important that you do attack the defense down the field,” Shurmur said. “There are some games when teams won’t allow it so you’ve got to do other things. But I think you have to challenge a defense, and one way to do it is to do it downfield. That’s how you get points, that’s how you move the ball. I know [Fangio], and I believe that’s something with the players we have that we’ll be able to do.”
While Lock is perfect for an offense that wants to stretch the field, the Broncos also have a couple of weapons that should help Shurmur immediately. Both Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman are decent receiving options out of the backfield, Courtland Sutton recorded his first 1,000-yard season and Pro Bowl appearance and tight end Noah Fant came along as a pass-catcher.
Shurmur certainly didn’t orchestrate the most explosive offense this season with the Giants, but he did have a hand in the quick development of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. The No. 6 overall pick threw for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 13 games, and established himself as the future for the Giants under center — much like Lock did in Denver.
The pieces are there for the Broncos, it will be interesting to see if Shurmur can create an attack that rivals the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.