Last season, the Broncos’ roster was held back by questionable coaching. Now the Broncos have two of the game’s brightest minds supporting that talent.
Welcome to the Vic Fangio Era in Denver.
On Thursday, it was announced that Fangio, who spent the last four years in Chicago as the Bears’ defensive coordinator, is set to become the 17th head coach in Broncos franchise history. With this hire, John Elway stays true to what he has said in the past to be his biggest priority: building a team with defense as its identity.
Elway isn’t blind to the side of the ball he played on though. Hoping to spark a change in an offense that finished 19th in the NFL in both total offense and passing offense, he has promoted Gary Kubiak to the offensive coordinator position. Essentially, the Broncos now have a head coach for both sides of the ball.
For Fangio, this will be his first opportunity as a head coach in the NFL, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s under-qualified for the job. He has under his belt 19 years of experience as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, and another 13 years as a position coach or defensive assistant.
His results? Impressive to say the least. For starters, Fangio has coached Hall of Famers like Kevin Greene and Ray Lewis, and future Hall of Famers like Patrick Willis and Khalil Mack. In 2011, he signed on to be the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. In his first year, he inherited the 13th ranked defense and brought them to fourth in one season. All four of his 49ers defenses finished in the top five. This season he led the Bears’ third-ranked defense, which was a big reason they returned to the postseason in 2018.
Being a defensive-minded coach, Fangio will need to rely on a knowledgeable offensive coordinator to lead the offense. Enter Gary Kubiak, whose name is a little more familiar to Broncos fans, as he was Elway’s backup quarterback from 1983-91, the Broncos’ offensive coordinator from 1995-2002, and then came back in 2015 to win Super Bowl 50 as the head coach.
Outside of Denver, Kubiak has eight years of head coaching experience with the Houston Texans and a year of offensive coordinator experience with the Baltimore Ravens. With the Texans, he turned Matt Schaub into a two-time Pro Bowler and engineered the league’s top ranked passing attack in 2009.
Best known for his success with running backs, he helped generate a 2,000-yard season with Terrell Davis and 1,000-yard seasons for Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Arian Foster, and Justin Forsett.
Pairing Fangio with Kubiak is a genius move by the Broncos. Defensively, Fangio’s knowledge along with all of the talent along the Broncos defense should make for a top 10 defense at least.
On the other side, Kubiak’s track record as a running game genius creates the possibility for huge seasons from Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Look for him to get the ball in the team’s best playmaker in Lindsay’s hands in as many creative ways as possible.
Last season, the Broncos’ talent on the field was held back by inept coaching on the sidelines. 2019 should be a much different story as the talent should still be there, but now will be supported by two of the best minds in the game.