Why Fangio makes sense and what’s next for the Broncos? (column)
At first glance, the Denver Broncos’ hiring of Vic Fangio registers somewhere between a “hmmm,” and a “meh.”
Since professional sports are addicted to copycat thinking, most NFL teams are looking for Sean McVay, 32-year-old offensive wunderkind, who is not available because he runs the Los Angeles Rams.
Matt LaFleur (Packers), Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals) and Freddie Kitchens (Browns), all recent hires, fit the mold of young and orchestrating track-meet attacks.
Fangio, 60, a lifelong defensive coach since 1979, mostly as a defensive coordinator, does not fit the mold of young and offense-minded.
It’s an against-the grain pick for Broncos general manager John Elway and it certainly isn’t splashy.
And that’s fine.
Two for the price of one
First, off, let’s note that the Broncos have already tried young with Vance Joseph, 44 when he was hired with only one year as a defensive coordinator with the Dolphins. Also don’t forget Denver did young and offensive-minded with Josh McDaniels, then 34.
Sorry to bring up Little Hoodie, Broncos fans.
Fangio’s been around the block several times, and that’s an asset. Even though it’s his first head-coaching gig, Fangio isn’t going be overwhelmed like Joseph was.
Fangio’s defenses, particularly in his last two stops, San Francisco (2011-2014) and Chicago (2015-18), have been excellent.
While Denver’s D led the franchise to a Super Bowl after the 2014 season, it’s worth noting that it needs a bit of work. I never understood why Elway didn’t resign defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, now with McVay in Los Angeles, who was key to the Super Bowl 50 win. Fangio fills this void.
While ping-pong style football is all the rave, there still is a place for defense in football.
Meanwhile, Gary Kubiak, the team’s head coach in 2015-16 and general Elway confidant, is going to be the offensive coordinator. And this is how hiring Fangio makes sense.
Fangio does the defense and has the fancy title; Kubiak takes care of the offense. Kubiak can run a high-flying offense, as he did during his first tenure here from 1995-2005. He can work up a run-oriented scheme as he did during stint No. 2 with quarterback Peyton Manning on his last legs.
The latter would make sense as current quarterback Case Keenum isn’t exactly Manning when the latter was healthy. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman were big finds for the Broncos in 2018.
Get to work, John
However, coaches are only as good as their players, and we still need some work here. Give Elway some credit for a good coaching plan. Now, you’ve got to go get some talent, No. 7.
And as we’ve discussed before here, Elway’s record in the draft and during free agency is hit-and-miss. Manning pretty much fell into his lap — the Broncos and the 49ers were the contenders for his services and Peyton didn’t want to be in the same conference with his brother Eli.
Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch and now Keenum have all been misses. Will Washington’s Drew Lock fall to No. 10 in this year’s draft? Does Elway try to move up for Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins?
And, yes, the Ravens are doubtless shopping Joe Flacco.
And whoever the quarterback is, he needs an offensive line in front. With the head coach/coaches in place, this is Elway’s next job.
And the reaction from Broncos fans is definitely going to have to be more than “hmmm,” or “meh.”
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