clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Broncos Playcalling Explained

There has been alot of talk about who actually calls the offensive plays for the Broncos, and just how the offensive gameplan is determined.  Well, Peter King gives us the explanation, part of his MMQB -- 

Mike Shanahan hasn't called the offensive plays in Denver for nine years.

Admit it: That surprises you. It stunned me when I learned about it Saturday in Denver. He gave it up after the Broncos started 0-4 in 1999. Gary Kubiak held the responsibility the longest, before becoming Houston's coach in 2006. Now it's up to 32-year-old quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, who calls the plays into quarterback Jay Cutler's headset, with Shanahan having the option to overrule him. He rarely does. Shanahan might make a play call or trump Bates' call two or three times a game.

The gameplan is a collaborative effort between offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who is responsible for run plays and protections, and Bates, who draws up the passes. Shanahan makes some suggestions during the week while the gameplan is being formulated, but it's mostly a Dennison/Bates production. Dennison and Bates also come up with the "First 18,'' Denver's version of the old Bill Walsh "First 15,'' when the first 18 offensive snaps of the game are set in stone (except if a third-and-inches call, for instance, has to be made).

Dennison and Bates figure out which run plays and pass plays will work best each week against the defense they're playing, then list them by down-and-distance, print them on a laminated play sheet, and call the plays from that sheet on gameday. Bates makes the calls, a heavy responsibility for such a young coach. But it's a natural fit. Bates is the one meeting with Cutler all week and finding out what plays he thinks are the best fit for that week's opponent. It makes sense that the coach communicating with Cutler most one-on-one during the week is the one calling the plays into his helmet during games.

So there you have it.  According to King, and several other media outlets, Shanahan has very little to do with the game plan/playcalling.

It also came out yesterday that Shanny has very little contact with Jay Cutler during the week, with even less being about football.  Perhaps that is for the best.  Jake Plummer's best season in Denver was when he had the buffer of Gary Kubiak.  The fact that Jeremy Bates is a younger guy probably works best with a young quarterback in Cutler.

No matter what is happening, the Broncos are winning, that is the most important stat of all!!