Word had swirled since the weekend that Mike Munchak will be the Denver Broncos next head coach, even as John Elway’s interview with Vic Fangio lasted until dinner in Chicago on Monday night.
The Broncos left for Denver without the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator in tow, so it’s time to speculate. Who do you got as the next Broncos head coach?
If these are the head coaching finalist, who gets your vote? #Broncos— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) January 7, 2019
I decided to take a look at what looks like the final two candidates depth.
We know that he’s as immersed in defensive strategy as anyone in football. Fangio’s NFL career began in 1986 with the New Orleans Saints and he’s served as a defensive coordinator for five different teams.
From 1995 to 1998 he coached the Expansion Carolina Panthers. In their inaugural season Fangio’s defense finished 5th in FootballOutsiders DVOA, including 2nd against the pass. They were 6th in total D during ‘96 and had the best adjusted sack rate in the league. The pass rushing linebacker duo of Kevin Greene and Lamar Lothon combined for 28 sacks.
From 1999 to 2001 Fangio was the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts under Jim Mora. The results with the Colts were mostly sub par, but the pass rush was elite in 2000. After 2001, he was hired again by Dom Capers to oversee another expansion defense, this time the Houston Texans. The D peaked at 18th in DVOA before bottoming out in 2005.
After he was fired from Houston, Fangio worked in Baltimore under Rex Ryan and, in 2009 Greg Mattison. In 2010 he left the NFL for Stanford under Jim Harbaugh, helping the current Michigan coach lead Elway’s Alma mater to 12-1 record. The Cardinal had one of the best scoring defenses under Fangio, which goes a way towards explaining why Harbaugh brought his coordinator with him when he took the San Francisco 49er job.
Three out of the four years he was coordinating by the bay, Fangio’s defense finished with a top 5 DVOA rating. He accomplished this despite the fact that Aldon Smith was his only premier pass rushing threat. When Fangio was with the 49ers, he had 10 players combine for 19 Pro Bowl berths in his four seasons. Those same 10 players have exactly one Pro Bowl berth since he left. Six of those players never made the Pro Bowl before they played for Fangio and haven’t made it since he left.
His most recent stop with the Chicago Bears started when John Fox hired Fangio in 2015. Every year the defense improved, even if only slightly at first. It wasn’t enough to save Fox though, who was fired after the 2017 season. When Matt Nagy was hired after the season, he made it a priority to resign Fangio and reportedly made him one of the highest paid coordinators in the league. It made sense: his return provided continuity for a defense that had improved from 30th in yards allowed the year before Fangio arrived to 10th in 2017; from 17th to 11th in rushing; 30th to seventh in passing; 17th to sixth in sacks; and 31st to ninth in points allowed.
In 2018, the Bears were one of the best defenses in the modern history of football.
We know he’s loyal to a fault. After the Tennessee Titans 7-9 finish in 2013, management requested he replace six or more of his assistant coaches. Munchak refused to follow through on all of them and was fired.
During his three years as head coach of the Titans, the team finished 13th, 30th, 21st in Football Outsiders total DVOA. That’s a bit discouraging on its head, but this isn’t: all three teams outperformed their expected win total. This was during the same time that the AFC South had pre-injury Andrew Luck carrying the Colts and Gary Kubiak’s Houston Texans looked like a Super Bowl sleeper.
This idea that Munchak coming to Denver will fix all that ails the Broncos offensive line may be popular to the mainstream media, but it doesn’t hold up to any level of scrutiny. The Titans line in 2011 was the worst run blocking unit in football. They were good in power situations, but woeful in just about every other way. The 2011 Titans did allow only 24 sacks though. In 2012 the run blocking improved slightly, but they allowed more sacks. During Munchak’s last season with the Titans line ranked 29th in the league in power situations and allowed 37 sacks.
So if Munchak won’t magically fix the line, why hire him? He’s safe, for one. Those Titans teams outplayed their talent and could have done more if they weren’t quarterbacked by Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and an ancient Matt Hasselback. Munchak’s leading receiver during his reign was Nate Washington. After he was fired, his replacement Ken Whisenhunt never won more than 2 games in a season.
Still, the lieutenants will be really important. Munchak has never called plays on either side of the ball. Following reports that Elway blocked teams from interviewing Gary Kubiak, all signs point to him leading the offense. On Defense fans have been pining for Todd Bowles, but he’ll probably return to Bruce Arians’ staff if the CBS commentator comes out of retirement to coach the Buccaneers. Perhaps the Broncos management still believes in Joe Woods, the guy they pushed Wade Phillips out the door for?
So who do you want for the Broncos next head coach?
On to your Broncos’ links
If Fangio is hired, the Broncos are expected to retain many of their offensive assistant coaches: Zach Azzanni (receivers), Curtis Modkins (running backs), Chris Strausser (offensive tackles), Sean Kugler (guards and centers) and Klint Kubiak (assistant quarterbacks).
The Broncos are not expected to bring back offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. The status of tight ends coach Geep Chryst and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan is unknown.
On the defensive side, Fangio as head coach would mean Joe Woods would not be expected to return as defensive coordinator, but defensive line coach Bill Kollar is expected to return. The status of linebackers’ coach Reggie Herring and defensive backs coaches Marcus Robertson and Greg Williams is unclear.
Maybe, but would be a quick turnaround for Vic. He could fly out in a day or two to and get everything sorted.— Scotty (@Skotty_Payne) January 8, 2019
A name to watch if Munchak is the Broncos coach.
The Denver Broncos do not want to lose Gary Kubiak and intend to find a role for him with the team.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last week that he had done “zero” work to prepare for an expected head coaching interview with the Dolphins and it turns out that his time was better spent on other pursuits.
PFT has reported on multiple occasions over the past several weeks that, notwithstanding Baltimore’s proclamation that coach John Harbaugh will return for 2019, multiple teams believe that he’s in play to be obtained via a de facto trade — and that the Dolphins and Broncos are the two teams to watch.
Reports: Mike Munchak appears to be the “early favorite” for the Broncos Head Coaching job - Mile High Report
Starting to look like Munchak will be the guy in Denver.
I’ve known Mike Munchak since the Oilers drafted him in 1982. I’ve known Gary Kubiak since he was an Oilers ballboy in training camp. I’d love to see Munchak as Denver’s head coach with Kubiak running his offense. Both are honest, smart, humble, driven, organized and respected.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 7, 2019
Adam Schefter is reporting that Mike Munchak would be interested in the Broncos job if offered.
I've had a number of Bengals fans tell me they want Munchak because it would hurt the Steelers— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) January 6, 2019
#1 get the right guy, don't just try to weaken a rival
#2 hiring Martindale from the Ravens would hurt a better team more
How many of these coaches improved in their second stint as a head coach? answer: 13 That is more than I would have expected. When coaches did improve in their second stint, the average was an improvement of 18%
On the latest MHR Radio Podcast, both Andrew Mason and Ryan Edwards think it’ll be Case Keenum.
Vic Fangio is our favorite to become the 17th head coach in Broncos’ history. Who is your favorite?
4. Things have quieted around the Denver coaching search, which has some believing that a move could be coming soon. The name you hear most commonly is that of Steelers offensive coach Mike Munchak, the 58-year-old former Titans coach who was an All-Decade offensive linemen for the Oilers in the 1980s. Munchak, who was 22-26 in three years in charge in Nashville, has turned Pittsburgh’s line into one of the NFL’s best in the five years since he got fired from the Titans. If it is Munchak in Denver? It’d seem to make some sense that Gary Kubiak would be his offensive coordinator. Denver has blocked other teams from interviewing Kubiak, currently a senior personnel adviser for the Broncos, for OC jobs—it’s believed he doesn’t really want to leave Denver anyway—which only lends credence to the idea. There’d been a thought during the season that he could help GM John Elway lure John Harbaugh from Baltimore, with the promise that Kubiak could be Harbaugh’s OC, as he was with the Ravens in 2014.
Make no mistake, I was front and center calling for Vance Joseph’s firing weeks ago. However, faced with the options publicly presented, I’m not at all thrilled with any of the candidates. Sure, I can winnow the list down by measuring whom I dislike the least, but is that really where we are as Broncos fans? I sincerely hope that whomever John Elway picks, he realizes that it’s on this coach his security as general manager hinges. Mike Munchak? That’s the guy that Elway is likely hitching his legacy to?
You would think that John Elway may dig a little deeper than a combined coaching record of 75-69 (.521), but nope!— Seeking: Head Coach (@theorangepage) January 7, 2019
Prepare for more of the same, my friends. This list points out that no one of worth will even interview with Elway. https://t.co/WMtHmJ1jvH
Atwater’s hit on Okoye is just the most obvious reason the safety should be in the Hall of Fame - Mile High Report
“I saw the hole open, and I hit it full speed, and I believe Christian was running full speed too, and fortunately...ahhh...I got him!” Atwater recalled this past season. “Bam! I just kinda lowered the shoulder, and boom! That was it.”
Texas quarterback Vince Young and Notre Dame speedster Raghib Ismail have been selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, along with 11 other players and two coaches.
I’m honored/humbled/surprised to be inducted into the 2019 @cfbhall alongside all the other amazing #ballers. I’m proud to represent all my @ASUFootball teammates/brothers &coaches that were instrumental in all of my success both on&off the field! #GoDevils— Jake Plummer (@snakestakes) January 7, 2019
10. Denver Broncos Daniel Jones, QB, Duke I go to the NFL Combine every year, and while there I make sure to listen to as many NFL general manager podium interviews as I can — it gives me perspective as well as answers. When Broncos general manager John Elway was at the podium last year, someone brought up the fact that he isn’t afraid to swing and miss when it comes to finding a franchise quarterback. I remember he smiled and said, “And I’m going to keep swinging until I get one.” With another head coach down, Elway’s ice is starting to get thin; he has to find that quarterback. If he’s going to take a swing at one in this class, especially picking at No. 10, perhaps that’s Duke’s Daniel Jones. Jones has a lot of fans in NFL circles.
10. Denver Broncos Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. In this scenario, John Elway dips into the free-agent market once again (or trade market) to try to get the most out of a defense that’s still one of the better units in the AFC. So, the Broncos go best player available here, and he has a direct impact on the new quarterback. Williams puts on a blocking clinic every week.
10. Denver Broncos Drew Lock, QB, Missouri John Elway can’t try to plug his most important position with Case Keenum or another recycled backup-type option again. He needs to dive into a first-rounder with hopes for much better success than Paxton Lynch in 2016. Elway already has had a good scouting look at Lock, who has a big arm to go with ideal size (6-4, 225 pounds). Lock also has the fearlessness and elusiveness NFL teams like in an aggressive, downfield passer.
Everything in recent history points to Dwayne Haskins coming off the board in a trade up.— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) January 7, 2019
The trade market can get hot right after the first wave of free agency in March.https://t.co/DTLTOx6Nmj pic.twitter.com/FDiTE9Mzsx
The Super Bowl Contenders
If you missed it, Baltimore was booing Lamar Jackson.
Great insight on the @Chargers plan. It’s shocking the @Ravens didn’t do a better job of self-scouting ahead of this matchup. Not adjusting the TE’s alignment on certain Pistol plays and failing to run OG pulls to a certain side jump off the stat sheet when opponents study tape https://t.co/svv4sI2TAe— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 7, 2019
Sunday’s win over the Ravens sets the Chargers up for a trip to New England to face the Patriots next weekend and it’s not the first time that quarterback Philip Rivers has found himself in that spot.
legitimately surprised to see Joe Flacco talk about it like this https://t.co/mzeh8keOOJ— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) January 6, 2019
Los Angeles gambled on installing a specific package that included seven defensive backs in hopes of slowing Baltimore’s mobile quarterback—a completely different plan from the last time the two teams played—and it worked.
The Cowboys lost wide receiver Allen Hurns to a serious ankle injury in Saturday’s win over the Seahawks and another member of their receiving corps sustained a less severe ankle injury.
Khalil Mack still has zero playoff wins and zero playoff sacks. This guy should not even be mentioned in the same breath as Von Miller— Ryan Kosior (@RyanJKosior) January 7, 2019
Philadelphia was one of the last teams to lock up its spot in the NFL playoffs. After beating the Bears on a missed field goal as time expired, the NFC’s No. 6-seed knows it has nothing to lose.
Only four active QBs are at least .500 in 4QC/GWD opportunities— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) January 7, 2019
Dak Prescott 15-9 (.625)
Tom Brady 56-42 (.571)
Andrew Luck 21-19 (.525)
Nick Foles 12-12 (.500)
Foles has the highest passing DVOA in the playoffs in this era too.
After a thorough beatdown of the Texans on Saturday, Frank Reich’s Colts have now won 10 of their last 11 games and face off against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Michael Silver writes how Reich’s steady hand has been everything Indy could’ve hoped for.
Andrew Luck vs. Patrick Mahomes might be one of the most exciting showdowns of the NFL playoffs and a key factor in the Colts’ tilt with the Chiefs.
Luck vs. Mahomes. Can the Chiefs stop the run? Does it matter? Here’s the playoff history between the Colts and Chiefs.
“As far as the injuries go, guys are making progress,” Reid said. “Sammy, Eric, Spence—they’re all headed forward. Larry’s making progress.”
”I don’t think so,” Reid said, when asked if he will address past failures. “They’re a good football team. Like I said before, every year is different in this league. Every team’s different, so you don’t spend a lot of time with that. You get ready for the game and go through the process of getting ready for it. I think that’s most important. I’m sure there is talk. That’s not where we’re at right now—just getting ready to play.”
Russ is great but he does hold on to the ball a little too long but then he does Russ things and makes a play out of nothing. It's v circular. Schotty doesn't help him at all with his schemes. First pass of the game he doesn't trust the TE will win his stick route so he scrambles pic.twitter.com/FjxMpqqGMl— Seth Galina (@SethGalina) January 7, 2019
But I do believe that where you are selected and potential correlation of success matters least for running backs — and that, in turn, makes picking one higher more of a risk on value.
Previewing the group of safeties that will compete at the 2019 East-West Shrine Game.
The rest of the NFL
You’re a GM and Nick Foles go back to the SB and win it, do you start him next year?— DeMarcus Walker (@livinglegend_44) January 7, 2019
The broadcaster could return to the sidelines and is a huge fan of the Tampa Bay quarterback
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy indicated he has a contingency plan in place if defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is hired away.
Packers: “How often did you run slant/flat?”— Mark Schofield (@MarkSchofield) January 7, 2019
LaFleur will have say over his coaching staff in Green Bay. However, an ESPN source indicated that he would like to keep defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on for next season. With Pettine still under contract, that is certainly still an option.
Matt LaFluer's resume/pedigree for a 39-year-old is impressive— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) January 8, 2019
Assistant to Gary Kubiak
QB coach for RGIII's breakout season under Mike/Kyle Shanahan
QB coach for Brian Kelly
QB coach for Matt Ryan's MVP season under Kyle Shanahan
OC for Sean McVay's coming out party season
Some thought Patriots assistant coach Josh McDaniels would be the perfect person to get Rodgers back on track. But several people who know LaFleur believe that his personality and, more importantly, his views on offense will mesh with Rodgers’.
Candidate 1: "I've spent the last decade building great defenses."— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) January 7, 2019
Candidate 2: "I had a Bud Light Lime with Sean McVay at the NFL combine."
All eight NFL teams with openings: Well, I've heard enough. Let's start talking contract, candidate 2.
Early this season, the Colts defense was every bit the long-term project everyone thought it would be. Right now, they’re one of the best units in football, and Indy’s first-year defensive coordinator is having as good a debut season as any new coordinator hire of the past decade. The eight teams looking for a head coach should all check in with Eberflus.
The saga of Kliff Kingsbury continues to grow. The Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets are clear to interviewing the sought-after assistant coach for their vacant head coach position.
”We’re very pleased to extend and expand our partnership with the NFL and give our viewers and CBS All Access subscribers the ability to stream NFL ON CBS games on mobile phones in addition to all other platforms for years to come,” DeBevoise said.
Next thing we need is Virtual Reality for the Super Bowl. Take a few premium seats out and sell those spots to millions of people to experience the game from home.— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) January 7, 2019
This could probably extend to your favorite team for the regular season also.
I think it would work.
The relationship between Tomlin and first-time offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner – and that of Roethlisberger and Fichtner – have been under scrutiny within that organization for months, with many believing it may be too close on both parts.
”The reason why it’s a high—I call it a high probability, and we have until March 13 new league year to see this come to fruition, he’s due a $2.5 million roster bonus five days after that date,” Mortensen said, per CBS Sports. “The Steelers, certainly because of what happened this week but what’s been festering behind the scenes even a couple of years beyond that, they will move him in a trade.”
Should Brown have bolted or not shown up? Of course not. But players see how it’s never Ben’s fault. How some media overlook the multiple rape allegations and how he’s beefed with numerous Steelers.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) January 8, 2019
Antonio Brown is being replaced by JuJu Smith-Schuster ... in the Pro Bowl. The Steelers wide receivers are swapping spots in this month’s all-star game, the team announced.
The Baltimore coach and backup quarterback were not trying to entertain the idea of what would have happened if Lamar Jackson was benched.
”It didn’t feel like it was a Ravens game,” Terrell Suggs said. “It seemed like they were better at playing our style of game than we were.”
”It’s up to them,” Suggs told reporters. “I mean, we’ll have to see what happens. It’s a long time between here and March, so we’re just going to enjoy it, hope we can work it out. But if not, I’m going to be lining up for somebody next year.”
”We got up-and-down the field so quick, those type of things just show what we’re capable of, what we can do,” Wilson said of the splash plays on the final drive of a come-from-behind bid that fell short.
The Rams and Patriots were two of the top teams in the NFL this season, but they didn’t mortgage the future to build for the present. In fact, one good measure of how well a team plans for the future is how well it does at getting compensatory picks.
“There’s really no answer to it,” he said. “I thought I hit good ball. Unfortunately I didn’t make it.”
Since the Bears cut him, Robbie Gould has made 82 of 85 field goals.— Jared Tokarz (@NFLDraftInsider) January 7, 2019
Kicker- #9 Running back - #10
Dear Cody Parkey,— The Greek Sportsbook (@BetTheGreek) January 7, 2019
Don't worry, they'll get over it.
In case you missed the Alabama Clemson game
LeSean McCoy tweeted this.... and then realized he was throwing shade at his o-line and deleted the tweet. pic.twitter.com/ImsR7niovn— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 8, 2019
Get a summary of the Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide football game
I wonder how much Imagine Dragons is getting paid for this CFP halftime performance... #amateurs— Josh Rosen (@josh3rosen) January 8, 2019
Ross will go down in Alabama lore for not picking the Tide, then picking on the Tide.