Keep the Broncos cheerleaders.
They are spectacular at their jobs. How you manage to never stop smiling — not once! — through 60 minutes of a Broncos game is one of the great feats in sports. Shoot, give ‘em a raise!
Almost everyone else can go. After the Raiders showed Mike Shanahan his worst nightmare with a 34-24 beatdown of the Broncos on Mike Shanahan Day, I’m not just talking Vic Fangio.
Now or later, a coaching change is obvious. You can read that hot take elsewhere. Here’s what happens when the Broncos get blown out at home by the Raiders: the coach gets fired. Wade Phillips got fired in 1993 after the Raiders blew out the Broncos 48-16 at old Mile High. Josh McDaniels got fired in 2010 after the Raiders smashed his Broncos 59-14 at new Mile High. Without a permanent coach after Jon Gruden was fired last week, the Raiders whooped Fangio at Empower Field at Mile High.
Vic’s a swell guy. Really is. His roster is filled with entitlement, and that’s too bad. But they're driving a dead-end road, and on Sunday Vance Joseph won more games as an acting head coach than Fangio did as a third-year head coach. Ol’ VJ led the Cardinals over the Browns since Cards coach Kliff Kingsbury was out with a positive COVID test, and the Arizona Republic ran a headline to troll Colorado: "Vance Joseph is ready for a head coaching job after thumping Browns."
I am amazed at the media industry. The inability to learn from history is simply incredible.
But here’s the truth about the “Fire Fangio” movement: Even if the Broncos do so and name Mike Munchak the interim coach for the rest of this season, a coaching change doesn’t fix thigs.
What's gone wrong with the Broncos is as much of a players problem as it is a coaching problem.
The Broncos will beat the Browns on Thursday Night Football. You heard it here first.
“We’ll be kicking it off here in about 96 hours,” Fangio said.
But beating the Browns, who could start Case Keenum at quarterback, won’t fix things, either.
The Broncos players are the bigger issue. When the same players run back the same script from one coach to the next, it's not only the coach. Plus, only the likes of Von Miller and Brandon McManus have seen winning here, and the rest have only seen losing here. At this point, losing is all the latter knows. They might as well be playing for the Lions or the Jags. They can rinse off all the losing with "that's the NFL!" without knowing this losing hasn't been Colorado's NFL.
And it hasn't been, not like this.
The Broncos have a history of linemen that includes Gary Zimmerman, Tom Nalen, Ryan Clady. The Raiders manhandled Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner and Co. for 14 hits on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Broncos have a history of safeties that includes Steve Atwater, Dennis Smith, John Lynch. And $61 million safety Justin Simmons has been bad-bad. He's the captain of the secondary — the NFL’s highest-paid secondary, for what it's worth — that gave up seven completions of more than 25 yards.
“The things that happened today can be fixed,” Simmons said after.
He added, “I feel like I’ve said that every week.”
For six years, man!
The Broncos didn't deserve the uniforms they wore in a third-straight loss that dumped them to 3-3 with the real schedule coming up. They wore the uniforms from Super Bowl XXXII — the first one, the Elway helicopter one, the burning-cars-on-16th-Street-Mall one. Those sweet blues, predominantly orange. They wore those uniforms to honor Shanahan for his Ring of Fame induction. Not to overstep my bounds, but put ‘em back. Don’t stain their memory again.
These Broncos deserve no-name jerseys, Notre Dame style. Remove the names, leave the numbers. Nobody hates the Raiders more than Shanahan, and giving away four turnovers to the Raiders is how you honor the man?
“Now let’s go beat the Raiders,” Shanahan told reporters at halftime.
Not with this crew. They're just cashing checks. The Broncos have played three good teams and rarely were competitive against any of them.
The score was 31-10 in favor of the Raiders when Broncos fans began to leave Mile High. A drunk high school friend with season tickets texted that season tickets were a bad idea.
That’s a first. The season-tickets part, not the drunk part.
Is this a good time to mention again the Raiders fired their coach last week? Gruden should send an email of congrats to interim coach Rich Bisaccia. (Actually, don’t send any more emails, please.) But the Raiders didn’t need a head coach against these Broncos, who were 3-0 and now are 3-3 and barreling toward a sixth straight season home for the playoffs.
“We’ve got four (former) head coaches and all types of talent everywhere,” said Von Miller, whose comments should be ripe fodder for the idea Fangio can be replaced midseason.
Doubt it happens, but the Broncos can fire Fangio in the middle of the season and things won’t get worse. The Raiders fired Gruden in the middle of the season and broke a two-game losing streak by crushing the Broncos six days later. Pro coaches are overrated. Not always, but mostly. Pro sports are about the players. Bill Belichick loses Tom Brady, Brady wins a Super Bowl and Belichick misses the playoffs (and drafts a quarterback). Kingsbury misses the Cardinals game Sunday, the Cardinals win. Raiders fire their coach, steamroll the Broncos and their third-year coach. Fangio's making $5 million this year, Simmons $15 million next.
Economics never lie.
Now let’s go beat the Raiders, said Mike Shanahan, who went 21-7 against the Raiders.
Fun idea, but not with these players. Fire Fangio now or later, they’re just not good enough.