Well, Broncos Country…
We are coming to the end of another year and soon the end of another frustrating season.
Once again we are at that place of wondering whether cheering for unlikely wins is really the right thing to do. Perhaps instead we should hope for a great game with improved play … but secretly pine for a loss to ensure regime change and better draft position?
Ugh. I’m no tank advocate. I always want the wins.
But I’m tired.
Tired of bad quarterback play.
Tired of subpar offensive line play.
Tired of wondering why - with two running backs who average nearly five yards a carry - this offense cannot establish a running game consistently.
Tired of listening to our defensive players pretend they’re not resentful that the offense can’t score just three touchdowns while they consistently hold opponents to under 17 points.
I’m tired of losing seasons and I’m really tired of becoming apathetic halfway through the season because of it.
But mostly - more than any of the other incompetencies on this team - I’m tired of Pat Shurmur.
The Denver Broncos officially have ZERO pro bowl selections.— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) December 23, 2021
I blame Pat Shurmur.
It’s exhausting watching our offensive coordinator week after week squander his talent with poor game plan after poor game plan (if in fact there is a game plan).
And then stand up before the press with zero accountability for the horrendous performance by the offense.
For example, this is Shurmur’s answer to why the Broncos’ offense is consistently throwing short in third-and-long situations.
“I think of each one of those plays as a story. There are times in longer yardage situations where they don’t allow you to throw the ball past the sticks so you’re in a situation where you have to catch in and run for it. …you have to throw it below the sticks to get a completion and then you’ve just got to run for it. Each one of those plays you’re talking about we had options past the sticks that maybe were covered, and then there were a couple of those opportunities where it just didn’t get done.”
Obviously QB play for these situations is important, and good coverage or an errant pass or a dropped ball will happen to prevent the conversion.
But the Broncos’ abysmal 37% third-down completion rate can’t be only blamed on players’ poor execution or great defensive coverage. It’s just as often Shurmur’s fault for designing a short-of-the sticks play that cannot possibly gain yards after the catch or sending guys downfield on routes that are low-percentage completions for our QBs.
️ If Pat Shurmur can't draw up a play to get the WRs past the sticks on third down, I'll do it for him. Listen in to this week's #Broncos Wire podcast with @RyanO_Leary! https://t.co/OsWY0cUk1j— Jon Heath (@ByJonHeath) December 31, 2021
Shurmur clearly fails to grasp that HIS ONE JOB as offensive coordinator is to figure out the best plays for his QB’s skillset that will actually and consistently scheme guys open beyond the sticks to get first downs. The rest is up to the players to execute as called.
The problem is that the play call is crap.
But to Shurmur each non-converted third down “has a story” and it clearly has nothing to do with his terrible sequencing.
Consider his answer regarding his level of confidence that the Broncos offense can reestablish a strong identity in the run game:
“I’ve always said it’s important to run the ball and when you do it, we have to be efficient. We have to gain yards and I’m very confident. The focus has been good, and we were able to in our eyes fix the problems that showed up and just like any next game you go on and prove.”
Somewhere in that word salad, Shurmur is saying he’s very confident in his two running backs - whom he gave the ball to just seven times each last week - to fix the run game because … they are focused and have moved on from the last offensive debacle???
WTF? I don’t want you and the offense to just move on, Pat. I want you to study film and figure out why the offense could only get 18 yards running the ball the entire game.
I feel like 99% of anyone out there has no idea what a dangerous weapon Noah Fant can be and it’s only Pat Shurmur’s fault.— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) December 30, 2021
Then there was this gem, which was really a softball question about the improved opportunities last week for our tight ends (as in, “hint hint, Pat...Use. TEs. More):
“I think each game is a different scenario. We have been able to hit on—or take shots at the tight end down the field. We had a couple more obviously against the Raiders [and] it helps. Any time a receiver can catch a ball down the field or be targeted down the field it helps you on offense, and we’ll just try to continue to look for opportunities to get that done.”
“Just try to look for opportunities???” Are you kidding me?
Does this guy ever try to take control of a game with a scheme that accounts for what he has versus what another team gives him? I’m all for finding weaknesses to exploit in the game, but Shurmur doesn’t seem prepared in any way before the game to account for another team’s strengths and attack its weaknesses.
Finally, in assessing what he’d like to see from Drew Lock as far as improvement this week, he could only offer that he’d like to see Lock get a win for the Broncos.
“I think you want to see the quarterback lead you to victory. You want him to be able to execute the offense in a highly efficient way, deliver the ball on time, and get us in the end zone.”
On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that answer. We all want to see the quarterback lead the team to victory.
But in the context of a Pat Shurmur offense - where the play design rarely jibes with the down and distance or the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses - it feels just a little hypocritical to ask for efficiency without any accountability for the lack of it the last 15 games.
If the #Broncos drop their remaining two games, Pat Shurmur will own the worst win percentage (36.36%) of any offensive coordinator in franchise history.— Zack Kelberman (@KelbermanNFL) December 30, 2021
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