Fangio Looking To Fire Up The Denver Defence

Fangio Looking To Fire Up The Denver Defence
Reading Time: 4 minutes.

As the confetti finally died down on Super Bowl 53 and the fans, players and team personnel made their way back to their hotels, one member of the New England Patriots was strangely absent.

It is now well documented that Brian Flores decided to walk back to the hotel, with his family, among the joyous Patriot fans. Soaking in the atmosphere, he walked virtually unabated, almost unrecognised and certainly unheralded.

It was almost the perfect metaphor to sum up Super Bowl 53. So many people have said to me in the immediate aftermath of the game that it was boring. “Man, that Super Bowl was s**t”. You can almost understand it. After all, the Rams were one of the league’s highest scoring teams and the Patriots have Tom Brady and last years Super Bowl was such a shoot out and why wouldn’t this years be?

What we got was the lowest scoring Super Bowl of all time. We witnessed just one play ran in the red zone all night. Fans were treated to a superb display of defensive football, from both teams, a masterclass of coaching and execution on the field.

Here was Flores, an architect of this, making his way to the hotel in stark contrast to the scenes in the stadium, the scrum surrounding Brady, Belichick and co at the end of the game.

His part in the head coaching hiring parade has been much the same. Flores was announced Monday as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. This season’s off season clamour to find the next innovative offensive mastermind means just two of the eight head coach positions that were up for grabs have been filled by defensive minded coaches.

Defence Defines Denver…

Which brings me to the Denver Broncos.

They are, more than most, a team build to succeed on defence. It is only three years since they suffocated Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to bring home Super Bowl 50. Von Miller lead they way that day, collecting the MVP award as he did so.

Miller headlines a defence that includes Brandon Marshall, Derek Wolfe, Chris Harris Jr and this years rookie sensation Bradley Chubb.

Now, the whole team will be lead by one of the premier defensive minds in the game.

It seems forever ago now that Vic Fangio was anounced as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. In reality it has been less than a month. It is an appointment which has ghosted under the radar as the race to the Super Bowl heated up.

That fans of the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions have openly celebrated Fangio’s departure as defensive co-ordinator of the Chicago Bears should tell you all you need to know about the new man in charge of Mile High.

From Dumore to Denver…

He has been coaching defence longer than I have been alive. His first coaching job was as a defensive co-ordinator for Dumore High School back in 1979. He has made his way through New Orleans, Baltimore, Houston, Indianapolis and San Francisco before he got to Chicago.

When he arrived there early in 2015, Chicago was ranked 30th in total defence. Over the next three seasons, the Bears would rank 14th, 15th and 10th. Fangio built a sneaky good defence with players that didn’t have top end reputations as an individuals.

Then, in 2018, the Bears traded for Khalil Mack. With the monster threat of Mack, combined with rookie Roquan Smith, the Chicago defence took off. Fangio’s unit lead the league in interceptions, turnovers forced and was third in total defence.

The performance came in a season that Fangio had tried, and failed, to become the Head Coach of the Bears. He was overlooked at the start of the 2018 season for Matt Nagy, another offensive minded coach.

Broncos GM John Elway clearly saw everything he wanted in Fangio saying after the hire:

“Going through this process and talking to many qualified candidates, it became clear that Vic was the best choice to lead our team. There are few things that Vic has not seen in 40 years of coaching. He’s been great on the defensive side of the ball for a number of years with a simple, detailed approach that gets results”

It is results that Denver needs to see immediately this year. Since their last winning season in 2016, the Broncos have gone 5-11 and 6-10 under Vance Joseph.

Rebuilding the Broncos…

Fangio has begun the turnaround by surrounding himself with some of the successful Bear’s defensive coaching staff. Ed Donatell will serve as his defensive co-ordinator and Brandon Staley will coach the linebackers. On the offensive side, the highly rated Mike Munchak comes over from the Steelers as offensive line coach.

Next up will be surrounding himself with the talent on field to perform. GM John Elway looks smitten with Missouri QB Drew Lock with their first round pick. After that it is a very deep defensive class for Fangio to get his teeth in to and the Broncos have eleven picks courtesy of the trade of Demaryius Thomas.

What will success look like for Fangio in this first year? I’ll leave that for him to tell you:

“My determination of success – ultimately everyone will look to the win-loss record. It’s my goal and purpose to make every individual player improve and get better. If we do that within that position group, that position group will be better. We do that, that side of the ball – whether it be offense, special teams or defence – will be better. Ultimately, we’ll have a better team which will lead to a better record”.

If he can achieve that, we could see the old mantra of “defence wins championships” define Denver for seasons to come.

Photo credit: Associated Press

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