Vic Fangio is the coach nobody had blinking on their radar. Despite his impressive resume, he fell into the margins. That happens when you are not a self-promoter, and never campaign for jobs.
Forget Where’s Waldo? Where’s Fangio? After blending into the NFL background for 32 seasons as an assistant coach, Fangio moves into focus on Thursday. He takes over as the Broncos head coach, given a four-year contract with an option to help revive a franchise that has missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.
Thursday at the UCHealth Center, Broncos general manager John Elway will introduce Fangio, who guided the Bears to the top-ranked defense. Thursday should provide clarity on Gary Kubiak’s role on the coaching staff — he will either be offensive coordinator or an assistant head coach in charge of that side of the ball — but make no mistake this moment is Fangio’s. It has been three decades in the making.
So, who is Fangio? We will learn more Thursday, but here are my Denver7 Things to Know about the man charged with making the Broncos a contender again.
- His defenses have ranked in the top 10 in total defense eight times. More impressive, his units boast eight top-10 finishes in scoring, including five top-five rankings.
- He inspires loyalty from players. He has earned reputation for making good players great and average players good. Player development is critical for the Broncos as their roster continues to become younger. San Francisco’s defense has never been the same since Fangio left. And All-Pro Bears linebacker Khalil Mack called playing for Fangio “an honor. He’s an evil genius.”
- He appealed to the Broncos beyond his experience. The Broncos love the way his defenses play disciplined. He reminds some of Bill Parcells with his hard edge, but soft touch in relating to players. While Fangio’s defense ranked first, they were rarely penalized, a huge issue under coach Vance Joseph.
- He runs a 3-4 defense but has drawn praise from players I spoke to for keeping his game plans precise and simple to understand. This was a trait of Wade Phillips. Make it easy for players so that they can play fast without being paralyzed by overthinking.
- He is a big baseball fan. His team growing up in Pennsylvania was the Phillies. He counted Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt among his favorite players.
- He has a good friendship with Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Maddon, too, got his big break late in his career after years as a bench coach. He’s become one of MLB’s most successful managers over the last 15 seasons, steering the Cubs to a World Series crown in 2016.
- Fangio hit it off with Elway over dinner in Chicago. Elway wanted a coach with expertise. Fangio has that on defense and will call the signals on game day. Known for his intelligence and work ethic, the Broncos believe his attention to detail and experience can be the tonic for a team looking to return to relevance.