Pat Shurmur has coached 22 NFL starting quarterbacks — from Donovan McNabb to Michael Vick, from Sam Bradford again and again to Colt McCoy, from Jeff Garcia to Kyle Boller, from Koy Detmer to Mark Sanchez, from Nick Foles to Case Keenum, from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones, and others in between.
Shurmur, who was named the Broncos’ new offensive coordinator, and Chan Gailey, a former Broncos’ offensive coordinator (when John Elway was quarterback) who has just been hired by the Dolphins in the same capacity, are among league leaders in spending thousands of hours in dark places, like mushrooms, with quarterbacks watching film and diagramming plays. Shurmur, who will be 55 in April, has been a quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator and head coach since 2002 with five franchises.
The Broncos will be his sixth and Drew Lock the 23rd.
Shurmur has dealt with young, vulnerable quarterbacks and diverse offensive systems. He has coached under Nick Saban, Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Mike Zimmer. He was replaced as the St. Louis Rams’ coordinator in 2011 by a guy named Josh McDaniels. He succeeded Norv Turner midseason of 2016 as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator. He has been an interim head coach with the Eagles and a two-year head coach with the Browns, and most recently, the Giants.
One of Shurmur’s most important mentors was Uncle Fritz, who I met when he was the Wyoming coach in 1974 and who I talked to again when he was the Packers’ defensive coordinator against the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII. Fritz recommended Pat play football at Michigan State, where he became an all-conference center, and, many years later, recommended Pat to his friend Reid as an assistant coach.
Pat’s close cousin Sally is a prominent newspaper columnist in Wyoming.
In 2017, Pat was named assistant coach of the year in the NFL because of his results with Keenum and the Vikings, who would beat the Bears in a late-season game 38-10. That performance impressed Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who, the next year, would win the same award.
Now, Fangio and Shurmur, veteran coaches and coordinators, are united in Denver. Shurmur has been at Dove Valley this week to meet the staff and familiarize himself with the Broncos’ environment.
Shurmur was fired by the Giants on Dec. 30 after compiling a miserable 9-23 record in 2018-19 because of the lack of talent, the transition from Manning to rookie Daniel Jones and his own difficulties as a head coach.
Pat still had three years left on his Giants’ contract, and the financial settlement of $12 million-$15 million hasn’t been resolved completely. The Giants will be off the hook based on what the Broncos pay Shurmur, and for how long. He’s expected to receive about $1 million a year by the Broncos for three seasons.
The deal was done Tuesday, and Shurmur will be introduced publicly.
Then, the Broncos’ fifth coordinator in five years will begin addressing the Lock Matter and his role in revamping and amping the offense. Shurmur has been praised for his relationships with young QBs — especially McNabb, Bradford, Foles, Keenum and Jones — and his willingness to fit offense to player.
Shurmur has created his aggressive philosophy based on Reid’s version of the “West Coast’’ offense, the up-tempo spread offense run by Kelly, Turner’s vertical passing offense and his own 50-50 pass-and-run style that generally incorporates three wide receivers, two tight ends and a running back — and depends on a power run game, quick, short passes, play-action and sporadic deep throws.
First-year head coach Fangio and first-year coordinator Rich Scangarello never meshed — and, after the season ended, and during the coach’s break, Fangio realized he needed a veteran presence as coordinator, and a quarterback whisperer, for the offense and Lock. The Broncos must score 24-plus per game to have a chance to be competitive, even with a defense returning to respectability.
And Vic must concern himself with self-preservation. Another two unexceptional seasons, and Fangio will have to worry about his future employment.
Wade Phillips was a mediocre head coach, but a terrific defensive coordinator. Pat Shurmur, a playoff regular and one-time Super Bowl coach, has established a similar reputation on the other side of the ball.
Pat Shurmur, the Broncos believe, is where he will excel once more — with a Lock-and-Load offense.