Inside the Numbers: Broncos have come a long way under Fangio

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio on the sidelines in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Aug 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio on the sidelines in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos’ first season with Vic Fangio and his coaching staff running the show is almost in the books, and for the most part, it has been a season of growth and development.

That being said, now, with just one game left on the docket, is the perfect time to look over how the Broncos’ units are playing to evaluate the job this staff has done in their first year. Do any changes need to be made this offseason?

Fangio’s Orange Crush

Vic Fangio‘s defense certainly made the trip to Denver with him, as the difference between the Broncos’ defense of today and the defense of the Vance Joseph era is stark.

In 2018, the Broncos defense ranked 22nd in total defense, 20th in pass defense, 21st in run defense, 15th in red zone defense and 13th in scoring defense. In 2019, the Broncos defense ranked 10th in total defense, sixth in pass defense, 18th in run defense, first in red zone defense, and 10th in scoring defense.

The analytic data only supports what conventional stats say, that the unit has improved across the board.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Achilles Heel of Denver’s defense last season was the coverage, which was among the bottom 10 teams in the league (72.4). In one season, Fangio has improved the Broncos’ pass coverage drastically. They now are 0.1 points behind the Seahawks from being a top 10 coverage unit.

Another positive change for the Broncos came in regards to tackling, where PFF ranked them 18th in the league a season ago. Now the Broncos are the sixth-best tackling team in the league.

It will be exciting to see what this unit looks like next season as the players of a year under their belt in Fangio’s system, and Fangio has a year under his belt as head coach.

Does Scangarello have Broncos’ O rolling or is it Lock?

2019 has been a rollercoaster ride of a season for first-time offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. For much of the season, he found himself near the chopping block as the offense floundered. But now, Denver’s attack is playing the best it has since Peyton Manning was under center.

Under Joseph, the Broncos offense scored at least 24 points in just seven of his 32 games. Under Scangarello, the Broncos have accomplished that three times in their last seven games and have finished just a point shy two other times.

The reason for this sudden leap in production is likely Drew Lock. The Broncos are averaging 5.1 points, 4.8 first downs, 15.7 passing yards more per game under Lock and their sack rate has gone down more than 75 percent.

In fact, the Broncos sack rate with Lock at quarterback has been historic, ranking third all-time among rookies with at least four starts, and the best in the league this season.

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