“Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.” The famous words of Bear Bryant perfectly describe the thought process behind John Elway’s decision to hire Vic Fangio as the 17th head coach in franchise history.
The fifth and final candidate that Elway met with, Fangio is proof that Denver was wise not to rush the process. While Fangio is not a sexy hire like Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona or a Sean McVay disciple like Matt LaFleur in Green Bay, Fangio is the kind of coach that can lead the Broncos back to the playoffs and bring back the kind of intensity that propelled Denver to a dominant victory in Super Bowl 50.
In a league that drastically favors the offense and division that features two of the better quarterbacks in pro football, being able to scheme for these high-powered units is paramount to a team’s success.
Fangio has been an extremely successful defensive coordinator in the NFL for nearly two decades, with his most recent stint in Chicago being his finest masterpiece. Fangio transformed a broken Bears defense, which ranked dead last in takeaways and 24th in points allowed in 2016, to the NFL’s best in both categories in 2018.
What’s more, Chicago ranked No. 1 in both rushing yards and touchdowns allowed, while also finishing in the top 10 for passing yards and touchdowns allowed. Obviously trading for Khalil Mack helped his cause, but Fangio was the man behind the curtain and pulled the strings that made everything work. And while rushing the quarterback has definitely been the foundation of the Bears’ 2018 defense, there really was not anything that Chicago didn’t do well defensively.
The Bears (27) had six more interceptions than the Dolphins (21), who ranked second in the category. The Bears (5) had more defensive touchdowns than any other team in the league and Chicago (50) also ranked third in total sacks.
After watching the Broncos lack intensity throughout the Vance Joseph era, bringing in Fangio to lead a unit that features all-world talents like Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. makes quite a bit of sense.
The Broncos combined for 44 sacks in 2018, including 14.5 from Miller and 12 from Bradley Chubb. The crazy thing was each guy only played 844 snaps apiece (78.37 percent). If Fangio can come in and increase their snap percentages to around 85, it would not be surprising to see Denver lead the NFL in sacks over the next few seasons.
Considering Gary Kubiak will be tasked with improving Denver’s offense, Fangio can focus heavily on elevating the defense back to the best in the league. The Broncos still have an abundance of talent on the defensive side of the football and multiple rising stars on offense. Fangio and Elway just need to figure out how to use Denver’s roughly $40 million in cap space this offseason to fill holes on both the offensive and defensive lines.
The Broncos displayed potential in multiple tight losses in 2018. Now, Denver has the man to shape that potential into actual results.