The reaction to head coach Vic Fangio’s hiring has been overwhelmingly positive, both across the league and within Denver, but perhaps more importantly, within Denver’s locker room.
Star players Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris both weighed in on the Fangio hiring over the last few days and expressed their excitement for him as a head coach.
Harris, as a defensive player, was particularly excited to see how Fangio would use him in the slot.
Arguably the most dominant cornerback from the slot – no cornerback allowed a lower passer rating from the inside than Chris Harris Jr. this season pic.twitter.com/NCWjkMGiWT— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 12, 2019
“I’ve seen what he did with the Bears and how he transformed their defense. A lot of his slot guys that I’ve seen around the league, Carlos Rogers (played under Fangio with the 49ers) and Bryce (Callahan) what he did last year. They’ve all had great years under him, so I’m excited to see how he plays me.”
A lot has already been written about Fangio’s disciplined approach, and his philosophy of not letting the little things slide. When asked about his take on that Harris said:
“I think that’s what we need, we need that. I think our discipline on the field last year was up and down. We beat ourselves a lot with penalties and not being able to execute a lot of the calls and that’s what we need. We have a lot of younger guys so to be able to gain that to help those guys make their transition into the NFL a lot better, I think that’s going to be huge.”
To Harris’ point, Denver was the second-most penalized team in overall flags thrown and penalties accepted last year, and eighth overall in penalty yards. Denver also has been receiving significant contributions from its 2018 draft class and had a lot of younger players step up into larger roles due to injuries or vacancies, so having a coaching staff that can help those young players thrive is going to be key to the team’s success.
Sanders concurred with Harris’ assessment as well, calling Fangio a “defensive mastermind that is going to get guys in position to make plays.”
When asked specifically about the disciplinarian side of Fangio, Sanders replied, “I think that we have a young team who needs that....we have young guys who need to understand how it works in the National Football League, and so discipline is a must.”
Combine both these players’ comments along with Derek Wolfe’s, and it is clear this was a deficiency in the last regime that the veteran players are looking forward to having this new coaching staff fix.
The veteran core of this team is all playoff-hardened, Super Bowl winners. Hopefully both the young guys and the veterans will benefit from the new staff’s emphasis on fundamentals and disciplined football.