The benefit of being the boss is calling your own shots.
Vic Fangio wants to run the defense in Denver as the new head coach and says he will because he’s the boss now.
“I believe, for the most part, I’m pretty good at it. So, I’m going to do it,” Fangio said. “There’s several offensive head coaches that still call plays. Not all of them, but I will have a staff that I will work close with. They’ll understand everything we want to do and are doing. I think it’s important that I do it. I want to do it, and look forward to it.”
The former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator was named the 17th head coach in Broncos history on Thursday. The no-nonsense coach – who has never been a head coach in the NFL before – will try to bring the Broncos defense back to the top of the league. Under Fangio, the Bears defense could call themselves “The Monsters of the Midway” again, guiding them to the NFC North crown and a playoff berth. Since he took the job in 2015 under former head coach John Fox, they have steadily risen on that side of the ball: 20th, 15th, 10th, 3rd in 2018.
“They have some great players there, but you know, we have some very good players here too that I think mixes very well in this system,” said Broncos Vice President and General Manager John Elway. “He likes the three-down [linemen]. That’s what our personnel sets up for. Looking forward to seeing what he can do for us on the defense.”
Fangio helped Khalil Mack take his game to the next level in one season, finishing with 12.5 sacks – up from 10.5 in 2017 with the Radiers. He envisions the same step with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
“That’s my position of expertise when I’m coaching a position, and those guys are going to get coached by their position coach, but they’re going to get a little extra from me too,” Fangio said. “I think Von Miller can play even better than he’s played in his career.”
Miller, who was in attendance for the introductory press conference, finished the regular season tied for fourth in the league with 14.5 sacks – second best regular season total for him of his career.
The act of bringing in a defensive minded head coach – and one with tons of experience – brought a smile to the faces of the defensive players who were also there like Shelby Harris.
“No matter how much you spread out the offense or how tight you bring them in and run the ball: it’s still about the fundamentals,” Harris said. “When you bring someone in and they say, ‘we are about to work fundamentals,’ that just shows you we are on the right path.
Fangio non-committal on Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator
Outside of Fangio being introduced as the head coach of the Broncos, another coaching move was on the forefront of everyone in attendance: the return of Gary Kubiak. Or possible return, as it were.
Several media reports indicated that Kubiak would return to the sidelines as offensive coordinator, leaving his post as Senior Personnel Advisor with the Broncos. He retired from coaching in 2017 because of health concerns but stayed with the team in that front office role.
Fangio was asked point blank about his future offensive coordinator and whether it would be Kubiak, he said “until things are ironed out and iron-clad,” he won’t comment, but did give Kubiak a ringing endorsement – and a door wide open to walk through.
“Gary is a hell of a coach,” Fangio said, adding, “If Gary is interested, then I’m interested.”
“I know Vic met with Gary today,” Elway said. “I haven’t had a chance to [get a] sense of that meeting. I have talk to Vic. I think Gary would like to go on the offensive side, but none of that has been settled.”
Having such a defensive minded coach like Fangio, it would behoove the Broncos to bring in someone like a Kubiak who has a stronger grasp of that side of the ball. Fangio expressed his thoughts on the offense in the interview with Elway and it’s grounded in balance.
“But, [with] balance [what] immediately comes to your mind is run and pass. There are other things that need to be balanced in offensive play. Do you throw it short, intermediate or deep? Do you run in inside, outside or have deceptives? Do you run gap schemes and zone schemes? Are you play-action, movement passing game?” Fangio said. “When I say balance, I’m not necessarily talking about how many runs and how many passes. You need to have balance within your passing game and in your running game. I know that from having to defend it. That’s what we’re looking to do.”
Fangio was also asked about Case Keenum as the Broncos quarterback.
“Right now, Case Keenum is our quarterback. I’ve had the good fortune, or misfortune – since I’m standing here, good fortune – of seeing him at the best in his career when he played for Minnesota last year, being in our division at the time. I know what he’s capable of and we’re going to try to get that out of him.”