BRONCOS

The Broncos need to show that the organization still has high standards

Oct 18, 2021, 6:00 AM | Updated: 8:08 am
Vic Fangio...
CANTON, OH - AUGUST 01: Head coach Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos looks on during a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on August 1, 2019 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A cruise through social media during the Broncos loss to the Raiders on Sunday was an adventure. Fans in the Mile High City were angry, upset with a third-consecutive defeat. And they were demanding change.

Vic Fangio was target No. 1 of their ire. Pat Shurmur wasn’t far behind.

At the end of the day, the fans aren’t wrong. Broncos Country has figured it out; their beloved team is poorly coached, which is why they’re on their way to another losing season.

Sunday was a microcosm of the two-plus seasons under Fangio. The Broncos seemed ill-prepared. Their defense was porous. Denver’s offense sputtered. The head coach made head-scratching in-game decisions.

Rinse and repeat. Same story, different day.

It’s beyond infuriating. And Broncos Country has had enough.

The argument against a coaching change is simple: It won’t make a difference this season.

That’s probably true. After all, it’s tough to argue that replacing Fangio with Mike Munchak, as an example, would magically transform the Broncos into a playoff team. It probably won’t.

But that’s beside the point. A coaching change isn’t about the short-term. It’s not about immediate results.

A pink slip for Fangio would be all about sending a message. It would let everyone know that the Broncos still have high standards.

The on-field product under Fangio hasn’t been good enough. The Broncos are 15-23 during his tenure, a subpar record by any measure.

And there’s no sign that things are going to get any better. Denver is getting worse as the weeks go by.

That’s not acceptable. Not in Broncos Country.

Red Miller was let go after the 1980 season. He was 12-2, 10-6 and 10-6 during his first three years in Denver. In his final campaign, the coach went 8-8. He was shown the door.

Dan Reeves replaced Miller. He led the Broncos to three Super Bowls. But after going 8-8 in 1992, the future Ring of Fame inductee was gone.

Wade Phillips went 16-16 during his two seasons at the helm, making the playoffs in his first year. But a 7-9 campaign in 1994 was his undoing.

Mike Shanahan won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and ’98, leading the Broncos to their first ever championships. But after going 9-7, 7-9 and 8-8 during his final three seasons, “The Mastermind” was ousted.

Josh McDaniels didn’t make it through two seasons. After going 8-8 during his first year on the job, he was sent packing after starting the 2010 season with a 3-9 record.

And Vance Joseph only made it through two years. He was 11-21 during that time, which was nowhere near good enough to earn a third season in charge.

That used to be the standard in Denver. If a coach wasn’t leading his team to the playoffs, he was on the hot seat. Not getting to the postseason too many times in a row meant it was time for a change.

It’s been that way for more than 40 years. It’s part of the reason why the Broncos have been one of the most-successful organizations in pro sports.

They don’t accept losing. Heck, they don’t accept mediocrity.

If a head coach produces those results, there are consequences. The Broncos were willing to make a change.

Now, there’s reason to question if that’s still the case. Fangio coming back for a third season suggests that maybe it’s not.

Granted, the 2020 season was unlike any other. Playing through the COVID-19 pandemic skewed the results.

So it’s understandable that the Broncos wanted to give their head coach one last chance. It might not have been wise, but it’s not unreasonable to suggest that Fangio deserved a chance to right the ship under semi-normal circumstances.

But he’s had that chance. And if Denver loses on Thursday night in Cleveland, he will have failed to take advantage of it.

That’ll be four losses in a row. In the span of 18 days, the Broncos will have seen their 3-0 start turn into a sub-.500 record.

Nearly halfway through his third season, Fangio will be on track for yet another losing campaign. And there are no signs that he will turn it around.

When things aren’t working, it’s foolish to stay the course. An organization needs to try something else.

If the Broncos are still about winning, if they still have high standards, a change is warranted. These kinds of results have always led to them in the past.

It’s not about saving the 2021 season. It’s about re-establishing high standards in Broncos Country.

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The Broncos need to show that the organization still has high standards