By Zack Kelberman
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (247 SPORTS) – Holding his introductory press conference Thursday, new Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio wasted little time in addressing two of the team’s most burning questions.
Who’s the quarterback? Who’s giving the quarterback the plays?
Fangio confirmed that Case Keenum is the starting QB “right now” — because what else is he going to say on his first day? — and likely for the 2019 season, his last under contract.
“I had the misfortune of seeing him at his best when he was with Minnesota,” he said. “We know what he’s capable of. We’re going to try to get that out of him.”
This essentially echoed what general manager John Elway uttered about Keenum in his season-ending press conference: a lukewarm endorsement.
“I’m going to go and shake some trees out there for the quarterback and see if one falls out (laughs),” Elway said on Dec. 31. “Case [Keenum] is our quarterback right now and we’ve got to do a better job of supporting him too. Case did a nice job this year. Obviously, he’ll tell you the same thing, he could’ve played better, but we’re always looking for that guy. We’ll continue to work for him and go from there.”
After signing a $36 million contract, Keenum, 30, showed encouraging signs that perhaps his best football is yet to come but ultimately provided an awful return on the team’s investment. He finished his first Broncos season with 3,890 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, handicapped by his own physical limitations, shoddy coaching, and a rash of major injuries.
Keenum looked every bit like a career journeyman whose upside is that of a solid backup. Suffice it to say, a far cry from the franchise field general the Broncos hoped they were getting.
But he’s a guy who may flourish under the tutelage of Gary Kubiak, who’s expected to return to coaching following two seasons as Elway’s right-hand man in the front office. Early reports pegged Kubiak as Fangio’s offensive coordinator, replacing Bill Musgrave, though things are far from finalized. Again, Fangio arrived in Denver on Wednesday evening.
“None of the assistant coaching positions have been determined yet,” he said. “Gary is a hell of a coach. I have respected him for years. If Gary is interested, then I am interested.”
NFL Network’s James Palmer reports “the plan” is to install Kubiak at OC — a former Super Bowl-winning head man counterbalancing a rookie — but “it’s going to be up to Fangio on Kubiak’s specific title.”
About that plan …
“We talked about an offensive philosophy and I believe in balance,” Fangio said. “You need to have balance within your passing game and your running game. I know that from having to defend it.”