ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio wants his offense to let it fly more often in 2020, and that's why he made a change to his coaching staff.
Though he has been on the job for three weeks, Pat Shurmur was formally introduced Thursday as the Broncos' new offensive coordinator. Shurmur replaces Rich Scangarello, who held the position for one season before being fired shortly after the Broncos closed out a 7-9 season.
Near the top of Shurmur's to-do list is putting far more pop in the Broncos' offense with down-the-field passing.
"That's what I like," Fangio said Thursday. "Contrary to the stereotype that's always out there, you know, defensive head coach, you know, wants to ground and pound, considers the pitch to the halfback a pass -- that's not me. I like to be aggressive."
Whether it was the Broncos' personnel, the playcalling, three different starting quarterbacks, shaky play by the offensive line, execution or all of the above, there was little explosive about the Broncos' offensive efforts in 2019. They scored 16 or fewer points in nine games, they were 2-7 in those games and finished 28th in total offense, 28th in scoring, 28th in passing, 20th in rushing, 30th in third-down conversion and 28th in red zone offense.
The Broncos also had just 19 pass plays of at least 30 yards, tied for 17th in the league. By contrast, their Super Bowl champion division rivals in Kansas City led the league with 32 such plays.
On the bright side of things, rookie quarterback Drew Lock had five of those 19 pass plays in his five starts to close out the season.
"I think it's important that you do attack the defense down the field," Shurmur said. "There are some games when teams won't allow it so you've got to do other things. But I think you have to challenge a defense, and 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 [Fangio], and I believe that's something with the players we have that we'll be able to do."
The Chiefs are at least part of the reason for the Broncos' vigorous pursuit of impact plays and points. As Fangio pointed out Thursday, of the Chiefs' eight losses over the past two seasons combined (seven in the regular season to go with the AFC Championship Game a year ago), the opponent scored at least 31 points seven times.
"[You've] just got to throw it down there -- that's how you got to do it," Shurmur said Thursday when asked how to get more explosive plays in the passing game. "I think we have some players that can be effective and make plays and be productive with the deep ball."
Shurmur spent 10 years on the staff of Chiefs coach Andy Reid when the two were in Philadelphia. Shurmur said that's "where I got my start and my appreciation for throwing the ball and how you score points and do it in a way that's efficient and explosive."
Shurmur and newly hired quarterbacks coach Mike Shula are in the early stages of fitting the Broncos' scheme to Lock and around the rest of the depth chart. The Broncos had a 1,000-yard rusher in Phillip Lindsay this past season to go with a 1,000-yard receiver in Courtland Sutton.
"I just think Pat's got what it takes to be a successful offensive coordinator in this league and particularly for us," Fangio said. "... Once I decided to make the move, he was the first guy I called."