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Saleh, Fangio go way back, connect despite different personalities

Saleh knows Zach Wilson in for tough challenge
Zach Wilson
Posted at 1:47 PM, Sep 23, 2021

ENGLEWOOD -- The juxtaposition remains striking.

Robert Saleh brings explosive energy, his pressers sound like a TED Talk and his adopted motto emblazons the Jets locker room doors at Metlife Stadium: "All Gas, No Brakes."

Vic Fangio moves quietly with purpose, his pressers sound like a college lecture and he turns heads when he wears a windbreaker instead of a gray sweatshirt.

Naturally, these two have become friends, Saleh, the Jets coach, and Fangio, the Broncos boss. Saleh shared a season with Fangio in Houston and built their friendship when Fangio visited San Francisco where Saleh ran the 49ers defense.

"It's just human nature to have an appreciation for a style that people represent, and that there's no right way to communicate. There's just being authentic. And when authentic people meet you naturally gel. Vic is one of the more authentic people I have ever met in my life," Saleh said Thursday morning.

"I mean, shoot, the first time I went out to dinner with him I think he maybe said two words to me. I was like, 'God, this guy is having a terrible time.' And he got up and said, 'Hey man that was fun we gotta do it again some time.' So I was like all right. You learn the person as you get to him. He is one of the genuine people I have ever been around."

Fangio said with a grin he did not remember a dinner, believing it must have been in a team cafeteria because "I didn't want to pay for young coaches to eat."

Talk to players, and they describe Fangio like an acquired taste. He wows them with his defensive knowledge, and earns respect with his blunt communication. This week Fangio's prowess will be in full bloom as the Broncos face No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. The former Brigham Young star has received a baptism by blowtorch, throwing five interceptions in his first two games. Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers threw five in 526 attempts last season.

First-year quarterbacks facing a Fangio run defense for the first time are 4-11, according to The Athletic. The Broncos smothered Trevor Lawrence last week. He went 5-for-7 on his first drive and 9-for-26 after that with two picks. Wilson threw four interceptions last week against the Patriots.

"I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, but there are a lot of good things that are coming from this. Last week with (Patriots coach Bill) Belichick and this week Fangio, it's quite the indoctrination," Saleh said. "There are a lot learning opportunities to have. He’s going to challenge you and make it hard. But it's something we are up for.”

The Broncos boast a 2-0 record, ranking third in yards allowed (251.3) and fifth in points per game (13.0). However, areas exist where they can improve. They have three sacks, all by Von Miller, despite the former All-Pro getting chipped more than my windshield on I-25. He's facing Wilson, who has been sacked 10 times, most in the NFL.

Do his eyes light up with this matchup?

"Nah, these rookies these days, they are just fearless. They are not like the rookies of old. I have been a fan of Wilson's since he was at BYU. He has played a lot of great football," Miller said. "This is his team, and I expect him to be fearless.”

Chubb's recovery
The Broncos signed defensive end Aaron Patrick following Bradley Chubb's ankle surgery, and cut running back Nate McCrary. Chubb told Denver7 that he will be "coming back stronger and with a vengeance." Von revealed Thursday that Chubb was playing through more pain than he experienced before having bone spurs removed in May.

"He's a warrior. He's my brother. He's my friend," Miller said. "I expect to see him back in 5-to-6 weeks."

I reached out to Andrew J. Elliott, MD, a foot and ankle surgeon at Hospitals for Special Surgery and Team physician for The New York Red Bulls regarding Chubb's recovery. He was gracious enough to answer my questions regarding Chubb's type of injury and potential timetable.

What creates pain from bone spur?
When the spur grows off the normal bone at the ankle it can cause pain when the ankle is put into a position that causes the spur to hit against another bone in the ankle...that is called impingement. So it only hurts when the ankle is put in that position and so can be "unpredictable"....or a player knows when he puts his ankle in that position it will hurt.

Does it shift in ankle making it unpredictable?
No it doesn't shift. Now if he had a loose body which is a piece of bone and/or cartilage that is floating around that can at times get pinched in the ankle and cause pain...usually that is very unpredictable.

What is standard recovery time for one spur removed from ankle?
It can be 4-8 weeks.

What is the biggest hurdle to overcome in recovery?
It depends on the amount of swelling, inflammation, and scar tissue that forms that can dictate recovery time.