clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fangio defenses against rookie quarterbacks - historical review

Does history tell us anything about what the Bronco defense will do to Trevor Lawrence on Sunday?

Denver Broncos v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Vic Fangio got his first defensive coordinator job in the NFL in 1995. His defenses have faced rookie (16 starts or fewer) quarterbacks 77 times. Read on to see how his defenses have fared.

I’ve included 2019 and 2020 because Fangio, even as the head coach, still has a great deal of influence on the defense.

Sorting by passer rating here are the top 20.

Rank Player Date Tm Opp Result G# Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Sk
1 Tom Brady 10/21/2001 NWE IND W 38-17 6 16 20 80.0 202 3 0 148.3 0
2 Aaron Brooks 11/18/2001 NOR IND W 34-20 9 19 22 86.4 249 2 0 144.1 4
3 Derek Carr 12/7/2014 OAK SFO W 24-13 13 22 28 78.6 254 3 0 140.2 1
4 Ben Roethlisberger 9/18/2005 PIT HOU W 27-7 2 14 21 66.7 254 2 0 139.8 1
5 Daunte Culpepper 12/24/2000 MIN IND L 10-31 16 7 10 70.0 97 1 0 134.2 0
6 Brock Osweiler 11/22/2015 DEN CHI W 17-15 10 20 27 74.1 250 2 0 127.1 5
7 Dak Prescott 9/25/2016 DAL CHI W 31-17 3 19 24 79.2 248 1 0 123.6 0
8 Rob Johnson 1/2/2000 BUF IND W 31-6 16 24 32 75.0 287 2 0 122.8 0
9 Brock Huard 10/15/2000 SEA IND L 24-37 7 19 26 73.1 226 3 1 121.6 5
10 Russell Wilson 12/23/2012 SEA SFO W 42-13 15 15 21 71.4 171 4 1 115.3 1
11 Brett Hundley 11/12/2017 GNB CHI W 23-16 9 18 25 72.0 212 1 0 110.7 3
12 David Garrard 12/24/2005 JAX HOU W 38-20 15 18 31 58.1 292 1 0 100.5 3
13 Elvis Grbac 9/21/1997 KAN CAR W 35-14 4 16 29 55.2 224 3 1 100.4 1
14 Rob Johnson 10/1/2000 BUF IND L 16-18 4 21 32 65.6 246 1 0 99.2 4
15 Drew Stanton 9/21/2014 ARI SFO W 23-14 3 18 33 54.6 244 2 0 98.5 0
16 Justin Herbert 12/27/2020 LAC DEN W 19-16 15 21 33 63.6 253 1 0 97.2 2
17 Gardner Minshew II 9/29/2019 JAX DEN W 26-24 4 19 33 57.6 213 2 0 97.2 5
18 Jameis Winston 12/27/2015 TAM CHI L 21-26 15 15 29 51.7 295 2 1 96.2 1
19 Christian Ponder 9/23/2012 MIN SFO W 24-13 3 21 35 60.0 198 2 0 94.7 0
20 Jim Miller 11/5/2000 CHI IND W 27-24 9 24 35 68.6 214 1 0 94.2 0

This is an odd mix of future hall of fame QBs (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson) and guys who were journeymen at best, Brock Osweiler, Brock Huard, Brett Hundley, Elvis Grbac, Gardner Minshew, Drew Stanton, David Garrard and Christian Ponder. What you should notice is that Fangio’s team only won four of these games. Note that the result “W” above means that Fangio’s team lost the game.

For example in 2015, in Brock Osweiler’s first start, the Broncos beat the Bears 17-15.

Overall in these 77 games, Fangio’s team is 40-37. I was expecting a better win percentage, but some of these defenses (like the early years of the Panthers or the Texans) were not very good.

Looking at the twenty best games that his defense has had against “rookie” quarterbacks we see this.

Rank Player Date Tm Opp Result G# Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Sk
57 Akili Smith 10/24/1999 CIN IND L 10-31 7 12 24 50.0 122 0 0 64.9 5
58 Ray Lucas 10/17/1999 NYJ IND L 13-16 6 16 30 53.3 137 1 1 62.8 1
59 Tony Banks 11/17/1996 STL CAR L 10-20 11 14 33 42.4 160 1 1 55.1 6
60 Tommy Maddox 12/8/2002 PIT HOU L 6-24 13 30 57 52.6 325 0 2 55.1 6
61 Billy Joe Hobert 11/30/1997 NOR CAR W 16-13 13 14 30 46.7 190 0 1 53.5 0
62 Chad Hutchinson 12/19/2004 CHI HOU L 5-24 14 17 34 50.0 168 0 1 52.1 2
63 Donovan McNabb 11/21/1999 PHI IND L 17-44 11 19 36 52.8 165 1 2 51.3 4
64 Jay Fiedler 12/17/2000 MIA IND L 13-20 15 12 25 48.0 150 0 1 50.4 4
65 Trent Dilfer 10/1/1995 TAM CAR W 20-13 5 3 12 25.0 55 0 0 46.2 1
66 Nathan Peterman 11/4/2018 BUF CHI L 9-41 9 31 49 63.3 188 0 3 45.3 4
67 Austin Davis 11/2/2014 STL SFO W 13-10 8 13 24 54.2 105 1 2 44.6 1
68 Taysom Hill 11/29/2020 NOR DEN W 31-3 11 9 16 56.3 78 0 1 43.2 3
69 Byron Leftwich 9/28/2003 JAX HOU L 20-24 4 17 36 47.2 231 1 3 42.7 0
70 Quincy Carter 9/8/2002 DAL HOU L 10-19 1 13 30 43.3 131 0 1 42.5 3
71 DeShone Kizer 12/24/2017 CLE CHI L 3-20 15 18 36 50.0 182 0 2 41.7 1
72 Doug Johnson 11/30/2003 ATL HOU L 13-17 12 12 27 44.4 116 0 1 41.6 0
73 Andy Dalton 9/25/2011 CIN SFO L 8-13 3 17 32 53.1 157 0 2 40.8 1
74 Russell Wilson 10/18/2012 SEA SFO L 6-13 7 9 23 39.1 122 0 1 38.7 2
75 Danny Wuerffel 10/19/1997 NOR CAR L 0-13 8 13 32 40.6 132 0 2 27.1 7
76 John Skelton 11/20/2011 ARI SFO L 7-23 10 6 19 31.6 99 0 3 10.5 1
77 Tony Graziani 10/26/1997 ATL CAR L 12-21 8 4 18 22.2 24 0 2 0.0 1

You should note that Russell Wilson is on both lists. When he faced Fangio’s defense in his seventh career start, he played poorly. When he faced Fangio’s defense in his sixteenth he played extremely well. This bodes well since we will be facing Trevor Lawrence in his second career start. Similarly Justin Herbert did a little better as a rookie the second time he faced the Fangio’s defense last season. Herbert had a passer rating on 89.1 in the first meeting (game seven last season) and a passer rating of 97.2 in the second meeting (game fifteen).

The average among these quarterbacks (stretching back to 1995) in their meetings with a Fangio defense as rookies was:

  • 57.5% completion
  • 194 passing yards
  • 1.0 TD
  • 0.8 INT
  • 78.1 passer rating
  • 2.2 sacks

Nine of these quarterbacks were sacked five or more times with Danny Wuerffel leading the pack getting sacked seven times by the Panther defense in 1997. Last season the Bronco defense was able to sack Tua Tagovailoa six times. Former Broncos Osweiler and Tommy Maddox were sacked five and six times in their rookie starts against Fangio defenses. Gardner Minshew was sacked five times in one of his first starts in 2019 against the Broncos and Fangio’s defense. This game was the last time that Broncos faced the Jaguars.