One of the common themes among all the coaching hires Denver made this off-season is they are all excellent teachers. From the Fangio hire all the way down, that theme was loud and clear.
When John Elway was introducing Vic Fangio as the head coach, he was asked about Fangio’s history developing players and how that played into his decision to hire him with all of Denver’s young players on the roster. Here’s what Elway said:
“No question. As we talk about so many times, we don’t draft the All-Pros either. We have to develop them. I think one other thing that always stood out when my dad talked about coaching and what I heard from Vic, was when you have coaches talk about teaching, because that’s what it is, it’s about teaching and about teaching them the right things to do and fundamentals. As a player, when you have a coach that teaches you those fundamentals, but also gives you a chance to be successful as a player and puts you in situations to be successful, that’s what a great coach is.
Fangio took that philosophy and approach with the rest of his staff as well. When introducing his coordinators, he talked about what he looked for in his hires.
“First off, they’ve got to be good teachers. That’s non-negotiable. After that, you’re looking for a good fit too. The coaching staff within itself is a team in and of itself, outside of the entire team. Everybody has to work together.”
The head coach spoke to each coordinator’s ability as a teacher when introducing them. He said about Ed Donatell, “he’s a very good teacher and believes in the fundamentals in the classroom and on the field.” When talking about the hiring Rich Scangarello, Fangio said about Scangarello’s development of Nick Mullens:
“Yeah, I think that speaks well to his teaching ability—which is the No. 1 thing you want to look for in a coach. They had first [C.J.] Beathard, then [Nick] Mullens, they started the year before with [Brian] Hoyer, then went with Beathard. He’s had a lot of guys. In two years I think they’ve had six starting quarterbacks. All of them have gone in there and produced and played well. I think that speaks well of Rich’s teaching ability and the ability to lead that quarterback group to play well within the scheme.”
And this isn’t just all talk. I wrote in February how Fangio went about building the Chicago defense from the ground up in the four years he was there, turning them into the best defense in the NFL in 2018.
Specifically, Fangio has a knack for taking veteran cast-offs, undrafted free agents, and young players, teaching and developing them to where they play up to their potential. When speaking at the annual NFL Head Coaches Breakfast this week, Fangio mentioned how much he enjoys developing players. “I really like watching players improve and helping them improve individually. If we can do that enough with enough players, we’ll improve the team.”
When he was asked about some of the players they have developed over the years, he said:
“Yeah, a lot of them. Some that started real young, maybe undrafted free agents or draft picks. But also players that have come from other teams, maybe where they didn’t have much success in the first half of their career, we got them for the back half and they did a lot better.”
Which leads us to the topic of discussion. Who are the key young players you expect to take the next step under Fangio and his staff, and who does the team need to step up the most?
The guys on 1st & 10 at 10 on Orange and Blue 760 tackled this question on today’s show with guest Benjamin Allbright.
Steve Atwater asked Ben (around the 10:45 mark) which players he’s looking forward to making a jump this year, potentially ones that are a bit under the radar.
Allbright’s “on the radar” pick was Garrett Bolles under Mike Munchak’s tutelage. I really liked his under the radar pick of Jeff Holland. “I wanna see him get up there in the rotation with Chubb and Von Miller and see what he’s able to do. He was a sack artist there in the SEC...he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the moves, he’s got the instincts and he’s got speed so I’d like to get Holland out there and see what he can do.”
I’m sure Denver would love that as well; with the departure of Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett the cupboard is a little empty behind Chubb and Miller. I think Holland is a great option to fill in that third pass rusher role behind Batman and Robin.
Also, if you’re a little rusty on Holland’s game, check out this great piece Joe Rowles did on Holland last year before the draft.
Staying on the defensive side, I’m excited to see what Josey Jewell and Isaac Yiadom can do under this new coaching staff. They’re both smart, hard working guys who seem very teachable. Denver needs both of those guys to take a step forward in their development this year if they hope to improve on the defensive side.
Who are you looking forward to seeing develop, Broncos Country? What players need to take the next step under this coaching staff?