Going back to 1994, there is an interesting correlation between the Denver Broncos suffering a bad home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and a coaching change the following season.
While Teddy Bridgewater was able to close the gap some to make what was an ugly loss look like less of one at 34-24, there was a point when Denver was down 31-10 with little hope of recovery. Do we let a few garbage time touchdowns change facts? Even head coach Vic Fangio doesn’t think so.
“I think we had a lot of yards today once the game became over a two-score game,” Fangio said after the game. “So, a lot of those yards are a little hollow. We need to be a balanced offense to be an effective team.”
So back to the bad home losses to the Raiders. I went back to the Wade Phillips era to see how frequent this type of loss occurs to the Broncos. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does the coach is usually on his way to the unemployment line. In fact, there have five bad home loss to the Raiders since 1994 and four of those ended with a new head coach the following season.
9/18/1994. A 48-16 blowout at home set the Broncos back to 0-3 and would actually start 0-4 before rallying to a 7-9 finish, but Phillips tenure as head coach would be done the next season as Pat Bowlen moved to Mike Shanahan. Result: Fired
11/11/2002. In a battle for the AFC West lead, Shanahan saw Brian Griese throw a pick six early and the offense never showed up as the Raiders racked up 34 points behind two Jerry Rice touchdowns. The Raiders would go on to get blown out in the Super Bowl, so in that context they got beat by a Super Bowl team. Result: Safe
11/23/2008. The Broncos were battling for a wild card spot against a bad Raiders team when the whole house of cards came crashing down on Mike Shanahan’s career in Denver. After this 31-10 blowout home loss, they would win their next two games to get to 8-5 only to then collapse entirely culminating in a 52-21 beatdown in San Diego to get bounced out of the playoff hunt. Result: Fired
10/24/2010. Mark this date as a day of infamy in Broncos history. This is what a team that has quit on its head coach looks like. After the first quarter, they were down 24-0. By halftime it was 38-7. After three an astonishing 59-14. Thankfully, the Raiders turtled up and stopped the scoring onslaught from there or records could have been made. Josh McDaniels then attempted to cheat the next week in a loss against the San Francisco 49ers and he wouldn’t even make it as the head coach to finish the season. Result: Fired in disgrace
10/17/2021. This wasn’t a blowout final score, but let’s not kid ourselves - it was a blowout until the Raiders let up on the gas in the final minutes. I’m not going to pretend everything was good because the final score was 34-24. The Broncos defense gave up seven plays of 25 yards or more and were down 31-10 at one point in the fourth quarter. This was the most lackluster performance from a Broncos team all season. Time will tell if this too will lead to a coaching change. Result: TBD
If the Broncos fail to rally into a playoff berth, should Vic Fangio be fired?
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