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'That's how you move the ball': HC Vic Fangio, OC Pat Shurmur outline common goal for Broncos' offense

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Vic Fangio knows the reputation that follows defensive-minded coaches.

That they only want to run the ball. That they're conservative by nature. That they'd prefer to win games 3-0. Two to nothing, if possible.

But he made it clear Thursday that he doesn't fall in that category.

"Contrary to the stereotype that is always out there, [that a] defensive head coach wants to ground and pound and counts a pitch to the halfback as a pass, that is not me," Fangio said Thursday. "I like to be aggressive."

And that, in part, is why the Broncos moved on from Rich Scangarello and hired Pat Shurmur as their new offensive coordinator. Fangio did emphasize that the two moves were independent of each other.

"It was a long thought process," said Fangio of making a change. "I really didn't come to a conclusion in my own mind until maybe the Friday after our last game — Friday or Saturday, something like that. I gave it a lot of thought on a lot of different fronts, and concluded that was best for us moving forward."

The Broncos ranked 28th in scoring offense and total offense in 2019 and averaged just 17.6 points per game.

Shurmur, though, arrives in Denver with 21 years of NFL experience to Denver and a track record of success. In each of his last six full seasons as either a head coach or offensive coordinator, his teams have ranked in the top 20 in scoring offense.

"It wasn't so much a motivation to go with experience as it was to get who I thought would be the best guy for the job," Fangio said. "The experience was an extra crumb that Pat has. … I think Pat is in his early 50s and has coached 20 years, but if he was in his early 40s and coached 10 years, he still would have been the right guy for the job. I just think Pat has got what it takes to be a successful offensive coordinator in this league, and in particularly for us. Having coached against him a few times, getting to know him — when I say getting to know him, we really didn't know each other that well other than a professional relationship the last few years. Once I decided to make the move, he was the first guy I called."

Shurmur said he'll install a West Coast system that's based on "what we think is best for our players," and he'll aim to promote an aggressive style of play.

"You just have to throw it down there," Shurmur said during his introductory press conference. "I think that's how you do it. I think we have some players that can be effective and make plays and be productive with a deep ball. I think it's important that you do attack the defense down the field. There are some games where they just — teams won't allow it, so you have to do other things. I think you have to challenge the defense. 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 Coach and I both believe that's something with the players that we have that we'll be able to do."

Shurmur's offenses in New York were among the best in the league at generating chunk plays via the passing game, and he'll have a young quarterback in Drew Lock that found success in that area in his limited playing time in 2019.

Shurmur and the Giants thoroughly evaluated Lock before selecting Daniel Jones with the sixth-overall pick in the previous draft. Shurmur said the choice was "best for the Giants," but he emphasized that Lock impressed him during the process.

"I will say this: We had a very, very high opinion of Drew Lock," Shurmur said. "We liked him a great deal. There are a lot of similarities between the two players. They're young, talented players that had very good college careers. Their skill sets are very similar. They can throw the ball well. They can move around well. You saw flashes of really good football from both of them this year as they played as rookies, so I'm very, very excited to be able to work with Drew Lock and really all the offensive players."

Shurmur said he and Lock have met in person and talked "a couple of times" over the phone, but the NFL's offseason rules limit which topics they can cover.

Shurmur and Quarterbacks Coach Mike Shula — whom Shurmur called "an outstanding coach" — will look to help Lock improve after he went 4-1 as a starter as a rookie.

And while Shurmur didn't want to speak yet about the team's greatest offensive needs or where specific players fit in the offense, he did share his overall philosophy.

"I think it's important for us that number one, we're efficient," Shurmur said. "We need to move the ball and score points. I think that's how we're all evaluated and score enough points to help us win games. Then how you do that — balance can be defined differently. There are going to be some games where we're going to need to throw and it's going to be smart to throw more than we run it. Then there's going to be other games where running the football is the right thing. When you're doing those things, you need to be able to score points and move the chains and do all the things that offenses must do."

Shurmur decided to implement that sort of offense in Denver despite reportedly drawing plenty of interest from other teams.

"I think you look at situations," Shurmur said of his decision. "I'm a career coach. I wanted to coach. I wanted to do it for and with people that I believe in. I wanted to do it at a place where I felt like I could have an impact. It all sort of came together. As I mentioned, it came together quickly."

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