Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman will be one of a handful of
groups to sit down with Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy over the
weekend. Besides the obvious though – working with Peyton Manning this season –
how has McCoy’s star risen so fast in league circles?
It’s simple, really. What you have to like about McCoy is
how he has demonstrated the ability to work with – and more importantly win
with – any caliber of quarterback in the NFL.
Got a franchise quarterback and football mastermind in
Peyton Manning? Great, see you in the tournament. Have a passer of middling
talent and ability (to put it kindly) such as a Kyle Orton? No problem, that dude
can put up back-to-back 3,500-yard seasons. Want Tim Tebow under center even
though he can’t throw a football with any consistency whatsoever? Still going
to the playoffs and actually winning a game there.
It hasn’t mattered who was at the helm for the Broncos since
McCoy arrived as the offensive coordinator in 2009. He’s gotten the most out of
That success followed McCoy from Carolina, where as the
quarterbacks coach he helped transform Jake Delhomme into a reliable option.
McCoy had been an offensive in assistant for the Panthers
since 2000, gaining the title of quarterbacks coach in ’04, Delhomme’s second
season with the team. Delhomme had already helped led the team to a berth in
the Super Bowl, though his numbers left something to be desired. The next
season he would set career highs in yards (3,886) and touchdowns (29), and in ’05
he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Just another average quarterback exceeding expectations with
McCoy standing somewhere in the picture.
But McCoy’s most famous and arguably greatest work of art
was last year with the Broncos, after they traded Orton mid-season. The team
essentially told him to rip up the playbook, and make the offense work with Tim
Tebow. Miraculously, he did.
Denver finished 8-8 that year, and 7-4 under Tebow despite
the fact that he was completing a pathetic 46.7% of his pass attempts. Then
they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the postseason. Granted, a lot of the
credit falls on the Broncos’ defense for keeping in many of those games, but
just the fact that McCoy could retool the entire offense on the fly was
It might be tempting to attribute this season’s job entirely
to Manning, who is often described as being like the offensive coordinator is
actually on the field. For what it’s worth, Peyton thinks McCoy is worthy of a
“I think he's ready [for a head
coaching job], I think he's paid his dues,” Manning said of McCoy on Wednesday,
according to USA
Today. “He's a strong leader. In my opinion, he deserves a shot at one
of these head coaching gigs.”
“Mike has been a great resource for me,” Manning continued. “He's been
incredibly supportive and patient with me in kind of putting together this
hybrid offense. I tell you, he's a worker. We spend a lot of hours together —
early mornings, late nights — trying to get kind of our plan in place for what
kind of offense we were going to be. There's no substitute for a work ethic,
and Mike certainly has that.”
McCoy, 40, pitched the ball around a bit himself as a
quarterback at the University of Utah and has spent his entire coaching career between
Carolina and Denver. It’s a respectable resume.
What I think strikes people the most about McCoy though is
his ability to adapt within tight windows. Tebow couldn’t execute the offense Orton
ran, but Orton couldn’t execute the offense Manning is running, either. Anybody
who can work with such varying levels of talent to that extreme is going to be
successful in the NFL.
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