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Reading between the lines of the latest coach speak from Vic Fangio

You can tell a lot about a franchise by what their head coach says and doesn’t say on the podium. Today we take a moment to read between the lines of Vic Fangio’s thoughts on improving in 2021

NFL: Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Leading off today’s Broncos’ News is an article that goes over Fangio’s most recent media interview highlighting his thoughts on moving forward in the 2021 season.

Let’s start by looking at what we can take away from his main answer about how to stop the 5-year failure of the team to make it to the playoffs:

“We just have to make a lot of improvements, obviously, We have to get healthy; we have to improve as players and coaches — we’re all in this together. I say many times that players and coaches are teammates, and we have to improve in those areas. We have to make the plays when they’re there to be made. We have to call good plays. We have to execute better, and obviously getting guys back healthy will play a big part in that, we hope.”

The order of his answer is something I find pretty fascinating. Let’s see it in a numbered list instead of a quote:

  1. Get healthy
  2. Improve as players and coaches
  3. Make more plays
  4. Call good plays
  5. Execute plays better

The biggest take away I see here is that the injury bug was a HUGE factor in Fangio’s mind of why the team didn’t do better. I’d lump the strangeness of dealing with Covid-19 in with that by the way as it impacted the Broncos more than most NFL teams because they are not playoff quality which means they are easy targets for the NFL to use to send warnings about following protocol.

The next most interesting thing here is that he lays bare the fact that the team overall has underachieved and that that has happened because of both the players and the coaches. Playcalling (especially on offense) has been very questionable throughout the season. The players (albeit quite young to be fair to them) also haven’t measured up in execution, preparation, and performing to the level that they are capable of.

The more disappointing take from Fangio was when asked about Drew Lock’s performance:

“I thought he made a lot of good throws. Obviously, his numbers would be better if we had caught a few of them. I thought he made a lot of good throws, I thought there was some throws that could have been a little more accurate, but I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for Drew at all. I think he can be a good quarterback in this league. He’s shown flashes of it and he’s shown periods and stretches of it, we just have to become more consistent.”

I’m not shy about pointing out that this is blatant protection from the coach of the young quarterback who is nowhere near looking like a player who could be a “good quarterback in this league.” He looks like a very flawed quarterback who has yet to take a big step forward in his development insofar as learning how to do the basics of footwork and decision making as a NFL quarterback at a decent level. That was apparent against the Chargers and every other game this season (other than the Panthers game which we can pretty definitively say was an outlier, not a norm at this point).

But if I see this and every other sensible analyst I know of that are Broncos fans, Cowboys fans, Steelers fans, or just NFL football fans, why would Fangio keep building up the young guy?

Either A) He believes what he is saying or B) The team is going to stay with Lock for 2021 no matter what so telling the truth and calling it like he sees it won’t change anything. The only way I see “A” as being accurate is if Fangio knows something we don’t about the offensive coaching staff and Lock’s development. I find that pretty unlikely, but it is possible. The only thing we can do at this point is to wait for the offseason to see how things pan out.

Broncos News:

As Broncos near end of 2020 season, HC Vic Fangio details keys for 2021 turnaround
Fangio also explained why he believes Jerry Jeudy can rebound from a tough performance on Sunday.

A knock on the door to the birth of a child: Shelby Harris details unforgettable game day
“It’s just funny my last two kids have stories that will go with their birth forever, so it's pretty cool,” Harris said.

Mile High Morning: Melvin Gordon III nearing career marks in bounce-back season
With one game left, Gordon has a chance to rush for a second career 1,000-yard season.

Other NFL News:

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NFL power rankings: Chiefs stay at top; Packers dominate in winter - Sports Illustrated
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Why Washington cut Dwayne Haskins now and why he won't be claimed on waivers - Sports Illustrated
Why Washington kept Dwayne Haskins through last week, but wouldn't keep him through the end of the season. Plus, Doug Pederson talks job security, Trubisky plays better, so do Zeke and Rodgers, and the Bills go for the Patriots sweep.

Justin Herbert sets new rookie record for touchdown passes - Sports Illustrated
Herbert surpassed Baker Mayfield's regular season record from 2018 and is the heavy favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Week 16 Quick Reads | Football Outsiders
What has been the key to Mitchell Trubisky's turnaround? We look at how the Chicago Bears quarterback has changed his game with our annual look at QB Styles. Plus the best passers, runners, and receivers in Week 16.

Week 16 DVOA Ratings | Football Outsiders
Five of our top six teams score big wins this week, but it's the Buffalo Bills who might be the hottest team in the league with five straight games over 40%. Plus: are teams with better week-to-week consistency more likely to win in the postseason?