Does Vic Fangio deserve to be ranked as one of NFL’s worst coaches?

Vic Fangio. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Vic Fangio. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

Vic Fangio is now two years into his NFL head coaching career, and unfortunately the results haven’t been what the Broncos had hoped.

Since his hiring, Fangio has a record of 12-20 and two losing seasons, leading NBC Sports’ Patrick Daugherty to rank him as one of the worst head coaches in the NFL. In Daugherty’s rankings of all 32 NFL head coaches, Fangio ranks 24th overall, and is only ranked ahead of the Cincinati Bengals’ Zac Taylor among coaches with NFL head-coaching experience.

That ranking seems low considering the poor injury luck and nightmarish quarterback luck Fangio has been forced to face, wich Daugherty somewhat acknowledges.

“There hasn’t been much Vic Fangio could do about the past two seasons. And much he has not done, limping to a 12-20 record as he waits on reinforcements from the front office,” Daugherty wrote. “On his own side of the ball, Fangio has had some players to work with, but they are under unrelenting pressure from the lack of production on offense. They’ve also been hurt, with Bradley Chubb missing most of 2019 and Von Miller missing all of 2020. With a healthy Miller and Chubb joining forces with an overhauled secondary, Fangio will be in defensive business for Year 3. Whether he gets a Year 4 is entirely dependent on Teddy Bridgewater finding another gear or Drew Lock making a third-year leap. Neither development is terribly likely. 62-year-old Fangio’s first head coaching gig is having the feel of the wrong place at the wrong time, though he is a good enough defensive mind that he could change his own fortunes with even slightly improved quarterback play.”

That odds of those fortunes changing feels better than Daugherty lets on.

Bridgewater is by no means an exciting quarterback. Many would argue he isn’t even that good. However — and this says more about the Broncos than it does about Bridgewater — he projects to be the team’s best quarterback since Peyton Manning retired, and the idilic plan is for him to be the backup following a remarkable leap in development from Lock.

In other words, even without the leap from Lock, the Broncos project to have their best quarterback situation in a half-decade. That is incredibly important for a coach like Fangio who, outside of Lock’s tolerable five-game stretch at the end of the 2019 season, has had to deal with some of the worst quarterbacking in the league.

There aren’t any teams with more than 12 wins over the past two years that have had worse quarterback situations than the Broncos during that span.

Along with quarterback, Denver also projects to have their most-dominant defense in a half-decade, as the unit is absolutely dripping with talent. That wasn’t the case last season.

Of course injuries made the unit one of the least talented in the league by season’s end, but even before injuries robbed them of key players, there were glaring needs.

At cornerback the Week 1 starting lineup featured Michael Ojemudia, a third-round rookie. This year, a veteran Ojemudia will be the team’s No. 5 cornerback.

Despite that glaring hole and the calamitous injuries which ravaged the defense, the unit managed to keep its head above water. They finished the season 13th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, right behind the Bills and Dolphins.

Let’s remember, Fangio was brought in to be a defensive wizard, and Denver not being the worst defense in football last season following the rash of injuries required some wizardry. However, until the results in the win-loss collumn follow suit, Fangio will continue to be viewed as one of the NFL’s lesser coaches.

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