Broncos reportedly steal defensive coordinator Vic Fangio away from Bears to be next head coach
Denver is going back to the defensive well with its next head coach
ESPN first reported the news, adding it is a four-year deal with a fifth-year option for Fangio.
Fangio was the Bears defensive coordinator from 2014 through 2018, serving in the role for both John Fox and Matt Nagy, when the latter was hired this offseason. Prior to that, Fangio worked as the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, brought by Jim Harbaugh from Stanford to San Francisco when the coach made the leap to the NFL.
The Broncos had narrowed down their search to Fangio and Mike Munchak, the Steelers offensive line coach.
This is a good hire: in six of Fangio's eight seasons as a coordinator since returning to the NFL, he produced top-10 scoring defense. This of course includes the No. 1 defense by a mile this year in Chicago, with Fangio being gifted Khalil Mack in a trade before the season and unleashing the defensive end on offenses all over the league.
For Denver, they get one an "old school" coach who hasn't been able to break through and land a head-coaching gig, despite spending years being successful around the NFL.
There will be questions about what Fangio does on the offensive side of things. The Broncos need to get better on the offensive line very quickly, and Case Keenum needs to be more efficient. According to Adam Schefter, Gary Kubiak will now run the offense in Denver. Both men worked extensively in Houston, although they did not cross paths -- Fangio was Dom Capers' defensive coordinator for years when he coached the Texans. When Capers was fired, Kubiak was the next man up, but Fangio moved on to Baltimore, where he served as the linebackers coach.
Kubiak, of course, won a Super Bowl with the Broncos as their head coach, managing to lead Denver after John Fox was fired by John Elway. So, yeah: Fox got fired by Elway, replaced by Kubiak, hired Fangio in Chicago, got fired by the Bears and now Fangio is in charge in Denver. Time is a flat circle.
Schefter also reports that Fangio's willingness to take on Kubiak and to run Kubiak's offensive system may have been the tiebreaker. Fangio essentially gets to be the head coach who sits back and uncorks his defense.
But maybe Elway's solution to the offensive issues is to simply double down and get better on defense. Fangio working with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb? YES, PLEASE. Chris Harris is back and Bradley Roby had a better season than people give him credit for. There's a lot of talent on this defense and the Broncos could another piece in a draft loaded with defensive players.
For Chicago, this is a huge blow. The Bears have leaned on Fangio's defense the last few years. As good a play caller as Nagy may be, the offense was below average relative to league standards. The defense carried this team and put it in a position to beat the Eagles in the playoffs. Maybe winning that game, with Cody Parkey hitting that field goal, leads to the Bears making a run and the Broncos going with Munchak instead of Fangio because they didn't want to wait an extra week. Who knows?
Either way, this is strong hire by Elway at a time when the Broncos isn't a great job for potential candidates. He didn't get caught up in the "hot young friend of Sean McVay" trend that's flying around the NFL and landed a guy with a long track record of leading high-level defenses. He hired an eager football lifer with tons of experience. It could pay serious dividends if the Broncos defense makes a leap into the elite levels.
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