The Denver Broncos made the move to part ways with Vic Fangio on Sunday. General Manager George Paton and President & CEO Joe Ellis met with the media soon after to talk about the firing of Fangio and their plans for the future of the franchise.
There was a prevailing theme from that presser that is worth discussing here today and that was the word ‘leadership.’ The word leader or leadership was mentioned 17 times during the course of the event and was clearly the prevailing issue that Paton is looking to fix moving forward.
When asked to elaborate on that, Paton noted that Fangio was a really good leader. However, in his elaboration it became evident (to me at least) that Fangio wasn’t leading well in all areas of the organization.
“Like I said, we’re looking for a leader,” Paton said when asked how he plans to upgrade the head coaching position. “Vic was a really good leader, but we’re looking for someone to lead the entire operation. Vic was a great coach and I loved working with him. I loved what he did on the defensive side of the ball. Vic did a lot for this organization. We don’t want to take a step back on defense, but we want to upgrade the other phases of the ball. I can’t say leadership enough. We’re just looking for that right leader for this organization.”
To me, that sounded like Fangio was a great leader on the defensive side of the ball, but was failing to take a strong leadership role over the offense and special teams units. That rings true in hindsight as we all know how those two areas seemed to lack the ability to adjust or change for the better.
Most of what Paton said could be classified as “coachspeak” or “GMspeak” as you would expect, so getting a little deeper on the details on the pressers most important theme was nice. I came away feeling like the right decision was made. I was on the fence with Fangio and thought it would probably be best to keep him, but after that comment from Paton I changed my mind there.
Another thing happened while watching the presser live. Truthfully, I came into the Broncos presser wanting to rip them for all of the failures, but then Joe Ellis did it for me. I actually came away from the presser feeling a little more optimistic about the future.
A big part of that shift towards optimism for me came from Ellis’ surprise candor when asked about fan frustration and no shows to games.
“Well, frustration levels have reached an all-time high for everyone, and I’m not just talking about me,” Ellis said. “I’m talking about fans, and the disappointment is the same thing. It sort of become systemic here with what’s been happening to us. We can’t figure out ways to win games, and that’s got to change. I can sit up here and talk about it, but that’s just cheap. That doesn’t get anywhere. It’s just got to happen.
“We’re going to have to come in with a fresh start and with a new coach, and George Paton, in tandem with him, is going to have to raise the expectations, the energy level, and the inspiration so that our fans will get inspired by the team again. 10,000 no-shows a game—there are a lot of factors. We’re not the only team going through that, but you’ve all seen—[and] I’ve seen—that stadium when it’s electric and it’s packed. We’ve got to figure out a way to start showing the fans that they’re going to come back [to] watch these games and be energized and excited about them. I’m one of hundreds of thousands and millions of citizens in Broncos Country that are just tired of it.
“I don’t want to stand up here—well I won’t stand up here next year, but I’ve been standing up here for three or four or five years—whatever it’s been—and saying the same thing to you guys. It’s got to stop. Someone else will stand up here next year and it’ll be a positive spin with a positive attitude. I just believe that this team is getting closer. We’ve got to figure out how to win not figure out how to lose. Figure out how to win. We can do it. We can put the pieces in place where this organization can do it.”
That’s a long quote and Ellis really seemed passionate about what he was saying as he was saying. As a man who knows he is on his way out of the building, he finally allowed himself to speak freely. I agreed with every single word he was saying and I wish I had heard them 3-4 years ago when things began to turn sour in Denver.
It was refreshing, especially since I was expecting “more of the same” comments we’d gotten from the previous two or three coaching changes in recent years.
What did you think of the Broncos presser earlier today?