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Scangarello explains "knee or shot" late-game chat with boss Fangio

Broncos offensive coordinator also says youth explains unit's inconsistency after first quarter.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos offesnive coordinator Rich Scangarello takes part in drills during an NFL football training camp session Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Rich Scangarello confirmed the clarification.

Following the Broncos’ down-to-the-zero-second win Sunday against the Chargers, head coach Vic Fangio said his offensive coach wanted to kneel away the final 9 seconds of regulation but he said, no, let’s take a shot.

The shot turned into a pass interference penalty followed immediately by Brandon McManus’ end-of-game winning field goal.

The next day, when he was calmed down a bit, Fangio said his offensive coach, Rich Scangarello, asked whether he wanted a knee or a shot. The difference between making a decision and having it overruled by a higher authority versus obediently asking the higher authority for a decision is the difference between embarrassment and honor.

“It’s funny that it’s kind of become something,’’ Scangarello said at his press conference Thursday. “It was great communication. The reason we won was the communication. What was interpreted and all that … it really didn’t go down like that.

“The question was, ‘Do you want to kneel on it or do you want to take a shot?’ He wanted to take a shot after the kickoff return. That’s what our plan was all along. There was no indecision or anything. We were able to go out there and do it. It’s Vic’s credit for saying, ‘Take the shot.’ That’s his call, not mine. We went out there and did it, and I’m proud of it. We can build on it and it’s a good thing.”

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That was one water-cooler topic involving Scangarello. There was one more. When it was suggested to Scangarello that lack of aggressiveness explains his offense’s season-long, second-half woes – the Broncos have  outscored their opponents 64-30 in the first quarter, but have been whipped by a combined 143-79 in the second half – he said the problem was more a function of the team’s youth.

“It's more about execution, it’s not an aggressiveness issue,’’ he said. “You look at the play calls, as the second half, we threw it more than we ran it. I think we were 10 pass, nine run.

“In the end, you’ve just got to stay on the field on third down. You’ve got to be tighter with your execution, and the reality of it is, we’re young. When Ron (Leary) went down (with a concussion) in that game, we were looking out there and (third-year left tackle Garett) Bolles was the senior player on that field. Every single guy is a first- or second-year player. We’ve got rookies everywhere, including the quarterback. It’s just what we are.

“The cool thing about it is that we’ve got a great foundation, they’re going to get better and better the longer we do this together. They’ll gain confidence. They’ve had to adapt to different quarterbacks and all kinds of different things. The free agents we signed and things (Ja’Wuan James, Theo Riddick), they’ve been hurt. New guys have emerged, and that’s exciting. We’re young, we have to get better and we have to be better at our execution.”

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