ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Somewhere, somehow, the person the Denver Broncos pick to be the team's next head coach will have to hire a quality staff, find a real estate agent, get ready to face an increasingly impatient fanbase and oh, find about another 90 points or so for the offense when he unpacks.
Because the Broncos offense hasn't really scored at a playoff-worthy level since 2014 when Peyton Manning was the quarterback. A year after, even with Manning in his final season, it needed a generational defense to win Super Bowl 50. Denver scored a yawn-inducing 335 points in its 17 games this season, an average of 19.7 points per game.
It was the seventh consecutive year the Broncos have not averaged at least 23 points per game, the sixth consecutive year they haven't reached 21 points per game. And that scoreboard has now cost two head coaches and four offensive coordinators their jobs on the way to six consecutive playoff misses.
"We just haven't been able to get over the top here of late," is how Vic Fangio put it days before he was fired. "We haven't scored a lot of points. We haven't had rhythm in either the running game or the passing game on the early downs, and we haven't been able to convert the third downs at a good enough clip. Your question is valid. It's been a little difficult."
A view of this year's playoff field was just the lastest example of the hurdle the Broncos face in yet another makeover. Twelve of the 14 teams that made the playoffs this season scored at least 400 points -- a 23.5 points per game average -- while two (Dallas and Tampa Bay) cracked the 500-point barrier (more than a 29.4 points per game average).
All six division champions scored at least 450 points (26.5 points per game) and the only two teams in the playoff field who didn't score at least 400 points (Pittsburgh and Las Vegas) didn't make it into this past weekend's wild-card round until the regular-season's final week.
The league's scoring leader this season -- Dallas -- scored at least 30 points in a game eight times this season, while the Broncos haven't topped 30 points more than four times in any season since 2014. Over the last seven years they've had four seasons -- 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 -- when they've had just one game when they've scored at least 30 and two seasons (2015 and 2021) when they've had just two such games.
Which is why all of the 10 candidates the Broncos have requested permission to interview, whether their coaching backgrounds are primarily on offense or defense, better have a detailed plan to find those lost points. The Broncos have already interviewed three coaches in the past week: Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy.
"If they're a defensive-minded coach, they're going to have talk about their plan -- they're offensive coordinator and his coaching staff and what his vision is with our personnel," said general manager George Paton.
Paton did tip his hand a bit on the offense he envisions for the Broncos with the original list of candidates. All six of the assistant coaches from the offensive side of the ball are currently working a version of the West Coast offense, including the Packers' and Rams' versions, which have direct ties to former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. Rams coach Sean McVay and Packers coach Matt LaFleur were both on Shanahan's Washington staff.
And Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was on the Broncos' staff for the Super Bowl 50 win when long-time Shanahan assistant Gary Kubiak was the team's head coach.
Paton said, repeatedly the day he fired Fangio, the team will pick a head coach based on "leadership" as well as a detailed repair plan for the offense long before he decides what the team will do at quarterback.
"I know how important that position is," Paton said of the impending quarterback search. "It's the most important position in sports, but we're focused on the coach. If you can get the right leader -- that's the most important thing right now is getting the right leader -- we'll get the quarterback ... we'll focus on the quarterback at a different time."