Denver Broncos: Why Vic Fangio might be even worse than Vance Joseph

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

In about a season and a half, Vic Fangio has had his struggles as a head coach.

It was a curious decision for John Elway to bring Vic Fangio in as his head coach, replacing a particularly bad Vance Joseph. Elway still saw the team as a defensive-first squad so the thought was to go and get arguably the best defensive coordinator in the league that season.

Fangio was with the Chicago Bears, a playoff team that season that was led by the league’s best overall defense. Though Fangio had never been a head coach, he was widely respected as one of the game’s best defensive minds, dating back to his days with the New Orleans Saints where he molded one of the all-time great linebacking corps.

But as a head coach for 25 games now, he just hasn’t gotten it done. Sure, we can make excuses such as the injuries he’s had to deal with, the ineffectiveness of the offense and things of that nature, but he is ultimately the man responsible for the overall success of the team.

In my opinion, Joseph is by far the worst coach in team history (yes, that includes Josh McDaniels). He was absolutely lost on the sidelines and his team seemed to all but quit on him in the end. But through 25 games, was he any worse than Fangio?

Let’s take a look at some numbers:

Head coaches through 25 games.

Win-loss record:

Fangio: 10-15

Joseph: 9-16

Divisional record:

Fangio: 4-5

Joseph: 4-6

Points per game: 

Fangio: 18.7

Joseph: 20.2

The numbers there are similar but if you look at those (and this is just a small sample), two things should jump out. First of all, if you remember how bad the team was under the guidance of Joseph, then one would have hoped the team would be much, much better with his replacement.

That hasn’t been the case.

The second thing that jumps out is that the offense has gone backward, scoring less points per game. Now Fangio isn’t an offensive guy, but he has had his say in who the offensive guy was.

Following Fangio’s hire, it seemed that the team was going to bring Gary Kubiak back to be the offensive coordinator. That didn’t happen, and the team settled on Rich Scangarello. He lasted one season.

The team then turned to Pat Shurmur, a move that excited basically no one and he’s given no reason for excitement as the season has gone on.

Fangio was supposed to be a major upgrade over Joseph. Heck, anyone was supposed to be a major upgrade over him. But not only has Fangio not been that, but you can also start to make the argument that the team has regressed since he took over.

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Joseph was bad. Like really bad. It’s hard to imagine that any other coach could even be mentioned in the same breath, but let’s be honest. Fangio looks every bit as lost and unprepared as the coach before him did. He doesn’t seem to handle even the most routine on-field situations properly.

So what is John Elway to do? You could have made the case that Joseph needed to be fired after his first year. Easily. Elway chose to roll with him for another year, likely because he didn’t want to turn the position over again so soon. Fangio actually finished his first season fairly strong, but this year has been a disaster that will almost certainly get worse.

It’s hard to imagine that Elway won’t be sitting in his office with the exact same thoughts he had after Joseph completed the 2018 season when this season comes to an end.

Fangio was a bad hire. We can say that he’s better than Joseph just because we hated the Joseph era so much. But if we’re honest with ourselves, he’s every bit as bad.