Take a look back at Mike McCoy's NFL coaching career, including his previous time as Broncos offensive coordinator. (photos by AP Images unless noted)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Mike McCoy will return to the Broncos' coaching staff.
After four years as the then-San Diego Chargers' head coach, McCoy will become the Broncos' offensive coordinator under new Head Coach Vance Joseph.
"Mike is a hell of a play caller," Joseph said Thursday.
McCoy's task will be to build an aggressive scheme that has "swagger," as Joseph noted. But it must also maximize the talent at his disposal -- a collection that starts with just the seventh pair of receivers to post three consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards apiece, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
"I want a guy that fits the scheme to the players," Joseph said Thursday. "I want coordinators that put players first and schemes second. If it doesn't fit the players, let's not do it. My thought there is 'players first, scheme second.'"
McCoy is particularly qualified to fit that bill, given his history in a variety of schemes and points of emphasis, as well as his ability to adapt and make changes on the fly during the regular season.
"Mike is an experienced play-caller who can build a system around our players," Joseph said in a statement. "It was our goal to find an offensive coordinator who has flexibility with his scheme, and Mike has done that as both a head coach and coordinator. He's had a lot of success in this league with many different styles of offense, including here with the Broncos.
"Mike will bring energy and creativity to our offense, and we're excited to welcome him back to Denver."
The 44-year-old McCoy's first Broncos tenure began in 2009, when he joined Josh McDaniels' first Broncos staff after nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers in various roles involved with the passing game.
His Panthers years exposed him to three different offensive philosophies. He broke into the league in the West Coast scheme run under George Seifert in 2000-01. In 2002, John Fox retained him on the Panthers staff, and McCoy helped the offense transition to a scheme run under the "Air Coryell" principles and language taught by coordinator Dan Henning, who learned that scheme in Washington in the 1980s under former San Diego offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs, himself a future Hall of Famer.
In 2007, the Panthers had another offensive transition -- to the Patriots-based schemes favored by former New England assistant coach Jeff Davidson, who became Carolina's offensive coordinator. Davidson and Fox elevated McCoy from quarterbacks coach to passing-game coordinator. McCoy's work in that scheme helped quarterback Jake Delhomme to a career-high 7.9 yards per attempt in 2008, and led to him earning the offensive coordinator job in Denver in 2009.
McCoy's history with Fox allowed him to survive the 2011 coaching change, and set the stage for some of his best work -- after a spate of early-season interceptions by Kyle Orton forced Tim Tebow into the lineup. Faced with having to construct an offense despite Tebow's inaccuracy, McCoy changed the scheme on the fly, turning an offense that relied on the pass into one that used the zone-read option as its bread-and-butter formation.
The result was an attack that ran the football 59.0 percent of the time after Tebow stepped into the lineup. It was audacious; no team has run the football on 59.0 percent of its snaps or more over a full season in the last dozen years. But it worked for the Broncos, as it played to its trengths -- and eventually was complemented by a vertical passing game that was limited, but effective enough to power a comeback win at Minnesota and a playoff win over Pittsburgh.
The on-the-fly overhaul guided by McCoy and then-quarterbacks coach Adam Gase helped turn the Broncos into a division champion that won the franchise's first playoff game in six years.
A year later, McCoy's challenge was different: to incorporate the concepts that worked for Peyton Manning and help translate them into the nomenclature the Broncos used at the time to ease the learning process for rest of the offense. That was also a success, as an offense that ranked 31st in passing in 2011 rocketed to fifth in 2012. Denver rocketed from 23rd to fourth in total offense and soared from 26th to third in offensive points, helping him land the Chargers' head-coaching job after the season.
In San Diego, McCoy's offenses had an average ranking of 11.5 in total yardage but were particularly proficient through the air, ranking fourth, 10th, fourth and eighth, respectively, in net passing yardage in the last four seasons. The offensive success came in spite of a litany of injuries over the years, particularly to their offensive line and receiving corps.
McCoy guided Philip Rivers to some of the best seasons of his career, including a career-high passer rating in 2013 (105.5) and a career-best-yardage tally in 2015 (4,792).