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Vic Fangio: ‘We just have to play and coach better’

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Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio met with the media on Tuesday to talk about the 24-16 road defeat to the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football.

Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The day after is usually good time to get a better assessment of how things are after your team loses. Most of us have recovered from our kneejerking and are starting to recognize some of the positives from game.

With a 24-16 road defeat to the Oakland Raiders, I think many of us are seeing that the Denver Broncos played poorly and yet still had ample opportunities in this game. The big test will be seeing how they respond this next week against the Chicago Bears.

Head Coach Vic Fangio met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the outcome of Monday’s game with an eye forward to the next opponent.

Here were some the highlights from that presser.

How the defense was exploited

  • The Broncos third down defense was pretty brutal and when you can’t stop the dink and dunk passing game, the third down conversions tend to pile up fairly rapidly as they did in this game where the Raiders converted on 10/14 third down attempts. The down and distance on third down was the biggest problem as Fangio noted here.

Fangio: “One of the biggest issues was they had so many 3rd-and-3 minuses—ones, twos and threes, which was more a reflection of our first-and second-down defense than the third-down defense. But you’re right, we’ve got to be able to make some plays and get some stops no matter what the yardage is, and we didn’t get them.”

  • The other issue was the lack of penetration from the Broncos front seven. Time after time, Josh Jacobs powered his way for extra yards. That kind of rushing attack tends to demoralize opposing defensive fronts over the course of a game.

Fangio: “They have a good running back. We knew that. That was no surprise. That’s part of it. They did a good job blocking us and just kind of winning the grudge part of the downs to where they were getting the extra one or two or three yards at the end of the play at times.”

  • Many wondered where the pass rush was. Well, it was actually there. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb completely wrecked their one-on-one battles, but it didn’t matter as Derek Carr got the ball out faster than almost anyone in Week 1. A good example of that is clearly shown in the video clip below - both Chubb and Miller obliterate their man and have a free shot at the quarterback. Except the ball is already gone.

Fangio: “There were throwing it quick, that was pretty obvious. They did some chipping, which every team in this league does against every defense. They were getting it out quick I think was the main reason.”

  • One guy who probably needs a hug today is Isaac Yiadom. He was abused and picked on all game long. It seemed like he was never in position to make a play. Fangio recognizes that they are going to need to ensure he’s got help everywhere he goes.

Fangio: “We’ve got to give him some help. We gave him a good bit of help, but not all the time. He’s going to have to answer the call there when he’s got a one-on-one situation. You’re never going to be rolled up to a guy every play. We rolled up some [but] obviously, we didn’t roll up enough in that particular game. So part of it is on me, but he’s going to have to win some one-on-one battles.”

Offense was one part good, three parts field goal

  • Early on, the offensive play calling was getting annoying. Especially that stupid ‘swinging gate’ play in the red zone that did absolutely nothing. However, once the second half got rolling it felt like Scangarello settled in to work on plays that, you know, worked.

Fangio: “I thought it was good. I thought our operation was good for the most part. Obviously, any time you call plays, same for me calling defense, there are always a few you’d like to have back or call something different. That is just the way it goes. You’re never going to call every play the perfect play. I thought it was fine.”

  • Fangio let’s Scangarello call the plays and only intervenes if there is a play he wants or a play he is looking to veto. So what we see is what Scangarello is giving in most cases.

Fangio: “He’s got the wherewithal to call those plays. Obviously, if I want something, we’ll do it. Or I can veto something. Overall, we’re going to go with what he calls.”

  • The Broncos offensive line held up pretty well all things considered. They gave up three sacks, but performed well in the run game. However, there are early concerns that Ja’Wuan James could have a serious knee injury. Garett Bolles was his usual poor technique, holding machine. Frankly, the sooner they move on from Bolles the better this offensive line will be. Don’t believe me? Here’s just a few examples in the video clips below. Expect to see more of that all year long.

Fangio: “I think they hung in there pretty good. We actually started running the ball better in the second half, made some big plays in the passing game. But our issues offensively were, we got in field goal range three times and got knocked back either by a sack or a penalty and couldn’t attempt the field goal. We tried the 64-yarder at the half, and another five yards, even a couple of yards, that thing might have been good. I think those were lost point there. Three drives where we are in field goal-range with the wind at our back. And then obviously the red zone. We didn’t come through there.”

No huge errors in judgement in coaching debut

  • It was Fangio’s first real game as a head coach in the NFL, so we should have expected a few bumps in the road. The first really questionable decision making came near the end of the first half where Fangio allowed a full 12 seconds to burn before calling a timeout in the two minute offense. He apparently misremembered that fact when answering a question about it today.

Fangio: “I was comfortable with the way that was going and the way it turned out. If we had some completions and/or not that penalty, those timeouts would have been used. They would have had a purpose there. Once we got down there and where we would have started using them, the clock just kept stopping after the play.”

  • The second questionable call was actually one I agreed with. With 9 minutes to go on the road, you should take the points in that situation. Your defense hasn’t shown it could stop the Raiders effectively, but if you kick the field goal here you can at least get two more chances to score touchdowns if your defense can hold them to a field goal. It almost worked out too.

Fangio: “It was fourth and I believe nine [yards]. I just thought it was too far with eight or close to nine minutes left. There is still a lot of football left. Anything can happen. I didn’t want to leave there without points. I think in retrospect that it turned out to be the right decision because we still had a chance there if we could’ve gotten a stop at the end. We’ll never know if we would’ve converted the 4th-and-9, but that was choice I made at the time. I feel fine about that choice.”

Disappointed, but not discouraged

  • Look, Fangio’s first game is forgettable, but that doesn’t mean he will end up being a bad head coach. I like how the team fought back in the second half and never quit - unlike the 59-14 home debacle to the Raiders under Josh McDaniels. Week 2 is going to be all about improvement, now. They have to get better and producing points and limiting opponents scoring opportunities. The red zone offense needs to get it going.

Fangio: “We have to do a better job of coaching. We have to do a better job of executing it. We had a chance there. We didn’t make the catch there that one time. We just have to play and coach better down there, and we’ll work hard at it.”

  • Death by inches. That mantra, while not mentioned by Fangio, is clearly evident in everything he does. The inches piled up to yards that piled up to points and the Broncos lost. Fangio isn’t dumb, but he’s got to figure out how to fix it and quick.

Fangio: “If we can just get our points when they are there to be gotten. Not get sacked or penalized out of field goal range. Make a play in the passing game. I think we only had two passes defensed, not counting batted balls by the rushers. We got one from [OLB] Bradley [Chubb], I know. We have to make some plays in pass defense. We have to shore up the run defense a little bit better.”

  • Next up, Da Bears. And if you think Fangio will have an advantage against his former team, you would be wrong. They know him far better than he know them now. It’s a home game, however, and a perfect opportunity for the team to show everyone that they aren’t the same ole Broncos from 2017-18.

Fangio on if there is an advantage to playing his former team: “No, I don’t think so. If anything, they may have an advantage because they’ve worked with me for four years and there are still two defensive coaches there that were there with me the entire four years. I don’t think so.”

What do you think Broncos Country: Will Fangio get the Broncos back on track to be competitive this season?