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Vic Fangio or Mike Munchak, who you got?

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All signs point to a two horse race for the Denver Broncos coaching job and the finish line could be Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans
All reports suggest Mike Munchak looks like the favorite.
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

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?

I decided to take a look at what looks like the final two candidates depth.

Vic Fangio

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.

Mike Munchak

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

Broncos giving Vic Fangio his best chance yet for NFL head coach job | 9news.com

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.

Steelers part ways with RB coach James Saxon - NFL.com

A name to watch if Munchak is the Broncos coach.

Denver Broncos have blocked two teams from interviewing Gary Kubiak - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos do not want to lose Gary Kubiak and intend to find a role for him with the team.

Vic Fangio is not interviewing with Dolphins Monday – ProFootballTalk

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.

Will this be John Harbaugh’s last game with the Ravens? – ProFootballTalk

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.

Denver Broncos: Mike Munchak is interested in head coaching job - Mile High Report

Adam Schefter is reporting that Mike Munchak would be interested in the Broncos job if offered.

Denver Broncos: To recycle (a head coach) or not? - Mile High Report

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%

Broncos news: Who will be Denver’s quarterback in 2019? - Mile High Report

On the latest MHR Radio Podcast, both Andrew Mason and Ryan Edwards think it’ll be Case Keenum.

Ranking the Denver Broncos head coach candidates - Mile High Report

Vic Fangio is our favorite to become the 17th head coach in Broncos’ history. Who is your favorite?

NFL Wild-Cards: The Eagles, Chargers, Cowboys and Colts Advance—and Look Dangerous | SI.com

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.

Are the Denver Broncos testing the limits of fan loyalty? - Mile High Report

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?

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.”

Jake Plummer, former Broncos QB, among 13 selected to College Football Hall of Fame class – The Denver Post

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.

Sikkema’s 2019 NFL Mock Draft 5.0 - The Draft Network

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.

2019 NFL Mock Draft: Raiders snag Quinnen Williams, three quarterbacks go in the top 11 - CBSSports.com

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.

NFL mock draft 2019: Broncos, Giants, Dolphins go QB; Cardinals, 49ers go for D | NFL | Sporting News

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.

The Super Bowl Contenders

Chargers survive a late rally from Baltimore, Win 23 - 17 - Bolts From The Blue

If you missed it, Baltimore was booing Lamar Jackson.

Philip Rivers: Exciting to get another chance to face Patriots – ProFootballTalk

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.

How the Chargers defense shut down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens | SI.com

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.

Jason Garrett: We’ll see how Cole Beasley’s ankle is “as the week goes on” – ProFootballTalk

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.

Eagles, again the underdogs, barely beat Bears in NFL wild card | SI.com

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.

Frank Reich leads Colts to comprehensive beatdown of Texans - NFL.com

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.

Colts vs. Chiefs preview: Who wins Andrew Luck-Patrick Mahomes duel?

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.

NFL playoffs 2019: 5 things Colts fans should know about the Chiefs

Luck vs. Mahomes. Can the Chiefs stop the run? Does it matter? Here’s the playoff history between the Colts and Chiefs.

Eric Berry, Sammy Watkins and Spencer Ware “all making progress” - Arrowhead Pride

“As far as the injuries go, guys are making progress,” Reid said. “Sammy, Eric, Spence—they’re all headed forward. Larry’s making progress.”

Andy Reid roundup: Chiefs’ demons, Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes - Arrowhead Pride

”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.”

Draft News

Penny, RoJo & The No Money Back Guarantee - The Draft Network

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.

2019 East-West Shrine Preview: Safeties - The Draft Network

Previewing the group of safeties that will compete at the 2019 East-West Shrine Game.

The rest of the NFL

NFL Coaching Rumors: Bruce Arians has ‘lot of momentum’ for Buccaneers gig, is big Jameis Winston fan - CBSSports.com

The broadcaster could return to the sidelines and is a huge fan of the Tampa Bay quarterback

Matt Nagy says Bears have plan in place if Vic Fangio is hired away

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy indicated he has a contingency plan in place if defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is hired away.

Packers ‘zeroing in’ on hiring Matt LaFleur as New head coach, per report - Acme Packing Company

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 LaFleur’s time with McVay, Shanahan will help Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers Blog- ESPN

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’.

Matt Eberflus: The top defensive head coach candidate | SI.com

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.

Kliff Kingsbury clear to interview with Cardinals, Jets - NFL.com

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.

CBS streaming rights deal with NFL will now include games on your mobile device - CBSSports.com

”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.

Antonio Brown trade possible, Ben Roethlisberger extension talks likely amid Steelers turmoil - CBSSports.com

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.

Antonio Brown trade: Steelers likely to move WR, face $21M cap hit | SI.com

”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.”

JuJu named Pro Bowl replacement for Antonio Brown - NFL.com

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.

John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco defend Lamar Jackson playing for Ravens | SI.com

The Baltimore coach and backup quarterback were not trying to entertain the idea of what would have happened if Lamar Jackson was benched.

Baltimore Ravens face pivotal offseason after loss to Chargers - NFL.com

”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.”

Terrell Suggs: ‘I would love to be a Raven for life’ - NFL.com

”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.”

Russell Wilson: Seahawks could have thrown more - NFL.com

”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.

Rams, Patriots expected to get two third-round compensatory picks – ProFootballTalk

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.

Bears teammates support Cody Parkey after missed FG | SI.com

“There’s really no answer to it,” he said. “I thought I hit good ball. Unfortunately I didn’t make it.”

NFL’s Average Salaries By Position | SI.com

Kicker- #9 Running back - #10

In case you missed the Alabama Clemson game

Clemson vs. Alabama - Game Summary - January 7, 2019 - ESPN

Get a summary of the Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide football game

Justyn Ross shocked Alabama as a recruit, then helped Clemson destroy the Tide - SBNation.com

Ross will go down in Alabama lore for not picking the Tide, then picking on the Tide.