Up until now, Vic Fangio’s fate with the Denver Broncos seemed all but certain. However, the NFL is a week-to-week business and in such a short season, a couple of games can change the projected trajectory of an entire franchise.
This is very much the case for Fangio. He went from riding a high at the beginning season, hitting a low not too soon after, and now back to looking like a competent head coach. Specifically, his defense as of late has looked everything like it was once hyped up to be.
But before looking too far into the positives, the head coach has more responsibilities than just one side of the ball, and the most blatant knock-on Fangio has been how he has handled the construction of his staff.
While the decision to move on from inexperienced offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello for a more seasoned option in Pat Shurmur can be justified, the results haven’t exactly equated to production. The offense has been stagnant but excuses can be made in the fact that the Broncos quarterback situation has been anything but spectacular.
The more indefensible decision has been not only hiring but retaining special teams coordinator Tom McMahon. The special teams unit has been terrible ever since it has been under his control and retaining him was and continues to be baffling. In a game that often comes down to inches, everything matters, and bringing in a new special teams coach just seems so obvious.
On the bright side, Fangio’s defensive track record speaks for itself. He has as much experience and has found as much success as any defensive coach in the league. This is something to consider if the Broncos do fire Fangio. A defense that now looks to be ready to contend can easily not look as good under a new scheme.
To an extent, every player in the league is scheme-specific. In other words, they need to be put in a position to maximize their talent. While this may affect certain players more than others, this roster has been carefully built under this leadership to play a certain role. Changing this could ultimately hurt the Broncos’ defense drastically.
It is also worth noting that the Broncos’ defense has generally played well against their biggest in-division rival. That team being the Chiefs, will be a massive challenge for the Broncos to overcome. Fangio’s defense playing so well against Kansas City can give them an advantage for years to come.
While Fangio’s defensive expertise is unquestioned, he does not bring much to the offensive side of the ball. Maybe unfair to ask of Fangio, the facts are that this has been the Broncos biggest concern through his tenure. George Paton may feel that bringing in a head coach that offers more to that side of the football is an upgrade over the current regime.
In the grand scheme of things, whether a head coach is retained or not often comes down to their record. While this may not be fair, somebody has to answer for poor performance. In Fangio’s case, it isn’t spectacular. At the moment, he is sitting at 19 wins to 26 losses, equating to a win percentage of .422.
Simply put, Fangio’s team not only has to play well but succeed down the stretch of this season. Without knowing Paton it is impossible to know just what Fangio must do to retain his job but with every win, the likelihood goes up. For a head coach that has yet to lead his team to the playoffs, finally achieving that milestone may ultimately be the factor that persuades Paton in his decision.
At the moment, the Broncos are a 7-6 football team and very much in the playoff hunt but are in the part of the season where every game is crucial. With four games left, Fangio and the Broncos have a challenging road ahead.
Rumblings of the Broncos searching for a superstar quarterback add another interesting wrinkle to this situation. The quarterback position is of such importantce that a team doing anything in their power to accomidate them could be in their best interest. For the Broncos, those quarterbacks would be Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers. Both of these players reportidley unhappy in their current situation would make sense for the Broncos to pursue this offseason.
If added, they would likley have a great deal of power throughout the orginaztion. How much is unkown but it is not unreasonable to think that the Broncos may consult their quarterback on who they may prefer as head coach.
Ultimatley, the siatuation Fangio has found himslef in is a difficult one to mounuver. In a lot of ways unfair, the NFL is a result driven league and the Broncos haven’t seen enough success to ensure his job security. Nothing is certain but whether he is brought back next season is the decsion of Paton and a late playoff push from Fangio’s team could at least give him something to ponder.