Broncos pick Bears defensive coordinator Fangio as new coach

First-time head coach led one of NFL's best units in 2018

Associated Press
Posted 1/10/19

Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway has decided on Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as his new head coach. “Vic really impressed us with his attention to detail — his focus is …

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Broncos pick Bears defensive coordinator Fangio as new coach

First-time head coach led one of NFL's best units in 2018

Posted

Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway has decided on Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as his new head coach.

“Vic really impressed us with his attention to detail — his focus is on teaching the fundamentals, technique and playing disciplined football,” Elway said in a statement released by the Broncos on Jan. 10. “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. With his intelligence and experience, Vic is as good of a football coach as you can find. He's the perfect fit and exactly what we need as head coach of the Denver Broncos.”

Fangio is a first-time head coach at age 60. He replaces Vance Joseph, who posted the franchise's first back-to-back losing seasons since 1971-72 and was fired on New Year's Eve with an 11-21 record.

Fangio has been an NFL assistant for 32 years and for 34 years overall, including two years in the old USFL.

The 2018 season was his best as Fangio guided a Chicago defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL, allowed a league-low 17.7 points per game and led the Bears into the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

"I just met Coach Fangio! I can’t wait! He will demand greatness!" Broncos linebacker Todd Davis said on Twitter shortly after the Broncos made the hiring official.

Elway also interviewed former Colts coach Chuck Pagano, Steelers O-line coach Mike Munchak, Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores and Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor while searching for his fourth head coach in six seasons.

Elway said he also plans to take a self-assessment this month to review the moves he's made that have led to Denver's three-year playoff drought since Peyton Manning retired a month after the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 title.

The Broncos have had four starting quarterbacks over that span, including free agent Case Keenum, who was underwhelming in his first year in Denver in 2018.

Elway concurred with star cornerback Chris Harris Jr.'s assessment last week that the Broncos need to modernize their offensive and defensive schemes to keep up with teams such as the Rams and Chiefs, who have fully embraced the run-pass option craze and other college concepts.

Elway didn't believe that innovation required a young up-and-comer, however. So, instead of going with a fresh-faced offensive-minded coach in the mold of the Rams' Sean McVay, he zeroed in on the grizzled teacher who's more like his first head coaching hire, John Fox, or the Chiefs' Andy Reid.

Elway, who turns 59 this summer, and Fangio, who turns 61 in August, will make up one of the oldest coach-GM duos in the NFL in 2019.

Fangio has 19 years of coordinating experience for the Panthers, Colts, Texans, 49ers and Bears. He's built dominant defenses in different eras, successfully adapting to changes in personnel, philosophies and style.

Four Chicago defenders were selected to the Pro Bowl under his watch in 2018: pass rusher Khalil Mack, safety Eddie Jackson, lineman Akiem Hicks and cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Much as former Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips used to draw praise from players less than half his age, Fangio was greatly respected in the Bears' locker room.

“He's an evil genius,” Mack told NFL.com in November. “The guy knows the game in and out and he knows his players, and ultimately, he wants the best for us out there on the field, so he puts us in positions to make plays.”

The Bears' playoff run came to an end Jan. 6 when Cody Parkey's last-second field-goal attempt was tipped and bounced off the left upright and the crossbar for his 11th miss of the season, sealing Philadelphia's 16-15 escape in the wild-card round.

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