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Woody Paige: Mike McCoy is the Broncos' sacrificial scapegoat

Woody Paige: Mike McCoy is the Broncos' sacrificial scapegoat
Posted at 1:16 PM, Nov 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-20 15:16:26-05

The first coach Vance Joseph hired becomes the first coach Vance Joseph fires.

Mike McCoy became the sacrificial scapegoat on Monday morning.

McCoy gets the blame for the decline and fall of the Denver Broncos.

It was assumed a week ago that another assistant would be the first to leave.  Special teams coordinator Brock Olivo’s unit was responsible for glaring errors – a muffed point, a blocked punt, a kickoff return for a touchdown – that would directly lead to points in the blowout defeat to the Patriots.

Instead of relieving Olivo, Joseph praised him.

On Sunday, a Broncos’ field goal was blocked. The point differential game in the latest loss was three points.

Joe Woods, who was promoted to defensive coordinator this year, hasn’t been criticized by Joseph, yet his defense, which was considered not long ago the best in the NFL and one of the greatest of all time, allowed 29, 51 and 41 points in consecutive games before permitting 20 to the Bengals.

Joseph’s coordinators have not performed above the level of their predecessors. In fact, the coordinators of a year ago were better, and are proving it again this season in other locales.  Even Rick Dennison and his lieutenant Clancy Barone. Wade Phillips, Joe DeCamillis and Barone are coaching with teams that are in first place in their divisions.

Joseph, who was characterized as a “leader of men” when he was picked by John Elway as the Broncos coach, certainly hasn’t proven to be a leader of assistant coaches.

He admitted his first mistake Monday.

McCoy can’t shirk responsibility.  After scoring Route 66 points in the first two games (including 42 vs. the Cowboys), McCoy’s offense hasn’t scored more than 23 points since, and was shut down and out in Los Angeles against McCoy’s old team – the Chargers.

These are the numbers in the last eight games – 16, 16, 10, 0, 19, 23, 16 and 17 – for a total of 117 points.

These are some interesting number – 16, 20, 10, 10, 22, 6, 17 and 13 – for a total of 114 points in 1971

The ’17 offense is the worst during an eight-game stretch since ’71.

That year the head coach departed in season. Lou Saban was replaced by Jerry Smith, and the Broncos finished 4-9-1. These Broncos are 3-7 and in danger of ending up with even more defeats.

During this streak of misery, the Broncos are averaging 14.6 points per game.

Only four years ago the Broncos’ offense average almost 38 points a game.

When he was picked as the head coach and immediately turned to McCoy as his first move, Joseph declared:

“I want a guy that fits the scheme to the players. I want coordinators that put players first and schemes said.’’ Joseph continued to repeat the same theme about a scheme. “If it doesn’t fit the players, let’s not do it. My thought there is ‘players first, scheme second.’”

Yet, the complaint about McCoy was he forced the Broncos to fit his complicated scheme, which was, to be frank, rather unclear all year.

Joseph may not have checked McCoy’s accomplishments with the Chargers. Even with the presence of potential Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers, the Chargers won nine games the past two years. The scheme was the same.

Joseph and The Boss, Elway, were basing their evaluation on what McCoy did with the Broncos previously.

In 2011, as the offensive coordinator here, McCoy changed his scheme to fit Tim Tebow. But it did it begrudgingly and warned head coach John Fox that the change would get them fired. He was wrong. The next year McCoy hitched himself to Peyton Manning’s playbook and rode them to a head-coaching job with the Chargers.

When McCoy returned to Denver, the media, particularly radio talk show hosts and columnists, called him an offensive genius. I wrote and said at the time McCoy was more McMediocre than McMiraculous. Nobody listened.

McCoy wasn’t open to change this season. He finally had to be forced to simplify the offense, but it was too late. And McCoy couldn’t coax success from three different quarterbacks – Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and, in training camp and exhibitions, Paxton Lynch.

In a column I wrote for Denver7 more than a week ago, I stated that McCoy had to alter the offense, or else.

 “Or else” happened on Monday after the latest embarrassment and the collapse of the season. The Broncos’ season is wasted.

McCoy failed and had to go.

Others must follow.

But McCoy wasn’t the worse Broncos hire. The guy who hired him and fired him was.