After looking through the transcript of Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway’s end of the year presser, one comment stood out to me in particular.
He was asked which top attributes he’ll be looking for in the next head coach and his answer pointed to one candidate in my opinion - current Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Elway said he he wants “them great on one side of the ball” and said he was looking for experience, someone who understands the game, and the ability to lead men.
“I want them to be great on one side of the ball and great at what they do—whatever that position that may be—whether it be a coordinator or whatever they’ve done. I look for greatness on that side. For me, I look for experience. I want the guys that understand the game, they understand Xs and Os but also have the ability to lead men. That’s a big part of it in today’s world. Those are two things that I look for, and there are guys we have feel for. I think there are a lot of things that go into a head coach that it’s a feel thing. We’re going to try to find that guy with that ‘it’ factor, that can make those right decisions and also lead men. We’re confident that we can find that guy.”
All these qualities fit Fangio.
First, Elway wants someone great on one side of the ball. Fangio is one of the better defensive minds in the game and is the mastermind behind the dominant Chicago Bears defense this year. The Bears rank third in total defense(299.7 yards), seventh in passing with 219.7 yards per game, first in rush defense (80 yards per game), first in points per game (17.7 points per game), third in sacks (50), and first in interceptions with 27 (the next closest was 21).
I mean, that is pretty damn impressive, and this wasn’t just a one-time thing either. He has long been a dominant defensive coach in the league and had dominant defenses with the 49ers during the Harbaugh era as well. So his track record does indeed speak for itself.
When someone tries to take away Vic Fangio... pic.twitter.com/SmtInudcHx— The Bears Report (@TheBearsReport) December 31, 2018
After a coaching change, many players on the Bears roster were concerned about Fangio leaving, including former Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan.
“I was excited to have Vic back,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “I was kind of nervous about him leaving. I feel like I really wanted him back.”
Fangio was obviously retained by Matt Nagy and the rest is history.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara who plays a major role on the Bears defense heaped praise on Fangio this past offseason.
“I love the mastermind that Vic is,” Amukamara said via the Chicago Tribune. “He’s probably one of the most detailed defensive coordinators I’ve ever been a part of. It just feels like he calls the right play every down. That’s probably an exaggeration, but it’s very, very rare that he doesn’t put us in the best position to be successful.”
Players even signed with the Bears because of Fangio’s presence. Linebacker Aaron Lynch who played for Fangio in San Francisco praised his mentorship and leadership qualities.
“His mentorship, the man that he is, his background, it’s just somebody you kind of like you want to impress him,” said Lynch via the Chicago Sun Times. “You go out there and you play every down for your team and your coaches and Vic has that type of respect, that type of vibe, where you want to go out there and do your best because you’re going to get the best from your coach.”
If we can talk Elway’s words as truth then Fangio is likely the Broncos top candidate heading into the interviews. He does come with some risks, but what head coaching candidate doesn’t? Plus, his hiring likely allows Gary Kubiak to get back on the sidelines as the Broncos offensive coordinator.
I understand Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak fits most of these qualities as well, but he’s not really dominant on one side of the ball. He’s a damn good positional coach, but really isn’t an offensive or defensive minded guy. Damn good teacher and leader though. Qualities that likely got him an interview with the Broncos.
As for the others? None really fit these qualities. Taylor is young and potentially promising, but only has limited coordinator experience and it didn’t do all that well in Miami. Brian Flores is a Patriots coordinator and those guys never really pan out. Plus, as I hate to say it, he likely is the Rooney Rule guy this year for most teams. Finally, Chuck Pagano is the “safe guy,” not really dominant in one area, but good in many. I would honestly view a Pagano hire as a lateral move. I could be wrong, but not the hire I would anticipate the Broncos to make after Vance Joseph’s tenure.
In the end, Fangio appears to be the best candidate. However, the interview process will be key here. The candidate who connects the best with Elway and company should get the nod.