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Whether or not it’s all his fault, it’s all his responsibility.
There’s a model used in business/project management that’s meant to help clarify roles within a particular project (stick with me here!).
This model is called a RASCI or sometimes just a RACI, which is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consulted, Informed. So essentially, who actually is doing the work, who is ultimately accountable to the results (where the buck stops), who is supporting the project, who is not necessarily in a decision-making role but is being consulted, and who just needs to know what’s going on. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
So how does this apply to the Denver Broncos, and in particular, their poor offensive showing this season? I believe this is a great model for breaking down the Broncos offensive woes, by using mainly those first two roles from the model.
A lot of finger pointing goes on during and after games as we all look for answers and who to blame, and to be clear there is plenty of blame to go around on an offense that is bottom five in the league in most statistical categories and by most advanced metrics.
However, depending on whether we’re talking about the O-line and protection issues, or Drew Lock and reads, or receivers executing the offense well, and even plays being called by the OC, we’re usually talking about who is responsible for each of those given components – who is the “doer” in that situation.
And again, to be clear, there are execution issues across the board that each of those individual parties should be held responsible for, as that’s their job.
However, the next piece of that model is owned by one person, who is ultimately accountable for the overall results of the offense, and that’s Pat Shurmur. Now, before you jump to any conclusions, this isn’t a “fire the coach” post or anything like that. It’s more of a shifting of the conversation from the individual things going wrong and all the various pieces that aren’t working, to where the buck needs to stop for all of this.
If you listen to Cover 2 Broncos, follow me on Twitter, or have read my stuff on here recently, I have been pretty hard on Drew Lock, and I was hard on him on this week’s episode (which you can check out above) as well. I feel like it’s all been warranted and hasn’t been unfair in my view, and comes from an honest place of knowing that he can do better, based on what we saw last year and the potential he has.
But I also want to acknowledge the other side of the coin. This perspective was highlighted for me by Tim Jenkins’ interview on Broncos Country Tonight a few days ago.
Jenkins, a former NFL QB and Colorado QB guru who develops QBs now, had a really great segment on the show with Benjamin Allbright and Ryan Edwards, and I would encourage every Bronco fan to check it out as it breaks down everything we have been talking about the last few weeks.
Near the end of the interview, Edwards asked Jenkins what are we saying about Drew Lock at the end of the season. Jenkins’ answer was outstanding:
“We’re saying that he is talented enough to be the guy and for him to take the next step he has to take ownership of the system so he is getting us into the right play versus having the right play called in from the sideline,” Jenkins said. “I think that’s what we’re saying.”
Jenkins covers issues with Lock reading coverage, protection breakdowns, and plenty more. Definitely check it out. I guarantee this will be the best 15 minutes you spend this week.
Something in particular that he said struck me and caused me to shift a little bit of my perspective. He was talking about all the issues he sees on Denver’s tape with the offense and things Lock needs to work on, things the O-line missed, etc., but brought it back to the fact that if it was just one isolated player or issue here or there, you could probably just chalk it up to a miss in execution (back to our model, it’s all the individual things the “doers” are responsible for).
But the fact that all of these things are happening together and continue happening reflects on the coaching.
He mentioned that whether it is a teaching style thing, or whatever it is, somewhere it’s not making its way down to the players – and that’s on the coaches.
Pat Shurmur is the “A” in our model. The buck stops with him. No, he isn’t blocking out at the right tackle position, or calling out protections pre-snap, or reading coverages, but if those things aren’t happening correctly, he is ultimately accountable for it – whether it’s directly his fault or not.
Now, given his experience in this role and time in the league, I’m sure this is abundantly clear to him, and he is working to shore up each of these issues, but until they are fixed and this offense starts doing what and NFL offense needs to do, for all four quarters, he needs to feel the heat.
So the answer to “what the hell is wrong with the offense? is it the offensive line, the QB, the receivers, the scheme, the coaching?” is likely “yes”.
However, there is one person who is accountable for all of those things combined, and ensuring they all work together, and the buck stops with him.