Sports

Who Broncos Fans on Twitter Want Canned After Raiders Debacle

The seats under head coach Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur could hardly be hotter.
The seats under head coach Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur could hardly be hotter. Denver Broncos via YouTube file photos
Last week, we predicted that if your Denver Broncos lost at home on October 17 to the hated Las Vegas Raiders, a unit reeling from the sudden resignation of head coach Jon Gruden over racist, misogynistic and homophobic emails, the result could be a death spiral for the team's 2021 season. Moreover, we noted, "The outcry to fire head coach Vic Fangio, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, special teams coordinator Tom McMahon and anyone else sanctioned to carry a clipboard for the outfit will grow to deafening levels."

Guess what? The Broncos fell 34-24 to the Raiders and interim coach Rich Bisaccia in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicates. And now, Denver fans on Twitter are baying for the heads of Fangio and Shurmur, as well as a few others, even as the overmatched players are preparing for a three-game road swing that begins on Thursday, October 21, when the Cleveland Browns will have a chance to humiliate them on national television.

Dismissing this response as a knee-jerk reaction would be to ignore the miserable performances of Fangio and Shurmur yesterday.

Fangio has been touted as a defensive mastermind, but his D-line hasn't put any significant pressure on quarterbacks since the Broncos polished off the three cupcakes (the New York Giants, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets) at the top of their schedule. That continued on October 16, when Raiders QB Derek Carr could have finished a blunt during the time he had to throw on most plays; the only two sacks the Broncos registered were by secondary members (Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan) on the sort of blitzes Fangio doesn't like to call. His utterly inept in-game coaching was epitomized by his decision to challenge two second-half calls despite plentiful video evidence that his gripes would be rejected. When they were, the Broncos had to surrender two of their three time-outs, which would have fatally wounded a comeback effort had one been even remotely in the realm of possibility.


Shurmur, meanwhile, continued his habit of calling the absolute dumbest plays at the worst conceivable times, with the most frustrating examples involving his repeated orders for signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater to throw deep. At this stage in Bridgewater's career, he doesn't have the arm strength to launch bombs with any degree of accuracy, and he takes so long winding up that it gives defenders more crucial opportunities to pummel him. As a result, supposedly Steady Teddy missed connecting on one ill-advised mega-hurl after another en route to being sacked five times, hit seventeen times, being intercepted three times and fumbling once.

No wonder Broncos loyalists are demanding the scalps of Fangio and Shurmur. But plenty of them doubt new general manager George Paton will do the deed, in part because they think that team executive John Elway, who hired Fangio, is still in charge behind the scenes amid a power vacuum created by Denver's ongoing ownership clusterfuck.

All signs point to the situation getting worse before it improves — and given how bad things are now, what with a slew of defensive injuries and tight end Noah Fant's sudden emergence as someone even likelier to earn a holding penalty than Garett Bolles, that would be a real achievement. Continue to count down our twenty picks for the most memorable post-game tweets.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts