Every single year another set of NFL coaches will go on the “hot seat.” For most coaches that “hot seat” designation is a proverbial death sentence. After two below average seasons Broncos coach Vic Fangio is now in that position. But his coaching issues aren’t the only thing that has him on the brink. Here is a look at the uphill battle Fangio faces to keep his job.
When Fangio was hired at the beginning of 2019 the organization looked a little different. John Elway was calling the shots as general manager and had plans to build with Fangio. The Elway general manager experiment, however, went downhill after the retirement of Peyton Manning. That cleared the way for new general manager George Paton. The plans that were formed by Elway don’t seem to reflect the vision of Paton.
Most new general managers will scrap the vison of the previous one, in this case Paton would fire Fangio. After all, what has Fangio done in his first two years to impress Paton? Two losing season in as many years with little signs of improvement on the offense side. That could ultimately be the biggest factor in Fangio’s demise, but not the only one.
In late June a trial to determine the ownership of the Broncos was vacated leaving the future of the team in jeopardy. The most likely course of action now would be to sell the team. A new owner next year would be the last thing Fangio needs. If he can get past Paton without being fired the owner could just do it themselves. The likelihood that the team is sold while Fangio is coach is very low but still possible and gives him another reason to worry.
On the Field Issues
Management shifts and ownership changes are one thing but Fangio’s track record in Denver adds a whole ‘nother level. Under Fangio, the Broncos have never been above .500, not for a single week. Both seasons they’ve struggled to get out of the gate compiling a 0-7 record in the month of September. His saving grace might be that he’s actually accomplished part of his job with establishing his scheme. In 2019, his first year coaching the Broncos, they ranked eleventh in defensive rating and followed that up with a sixth place rating in 2020. That still wasn’t enough to save the team and Fangio’s image as a coach.
Off the Field Issues
One of the most common criticisms of Fangio is that he can’t inspire his locker room. Despite being hired as a head coach Fangio seems to take an approach like he’s still just a defensive coordinator. It doesn’t look like he controls his team and he has no involvement with the offense. Fangio is a brilliant defensive mind but that can only get a team so far.
What Can Save Him?
A combination of things would have to go right for Fangio to keep his job but it wouldn’t be impossible. The first step is all reliant on on the field play. Fangio has never had a win in September with an 0-7 record, that needs to change. The Broncos open up the season against the Giants, Jaguars and Jets. All of those games are in the month of September. The Giants are an improved team from the last few years so a loss could be possible. As for the Jets and Jags those games need to be wins, anything short of that would be a massive failure.
With a lengthened season the possibility of going .500 is out of the window, so for Fangio it’s a winning season or bust. Getting to 9-8 would require a Drew Lock miracle, but Fangio doesn’t have to go with Lock. Of course Paton would rather see lock play. Lock has more potential, is younger and deserves one last chance. But in the interest of preserving his job Fangio could go with the safer option in Bridgewater. He might not blow fans away but ole Teddy check-down can be reliable when surrounded by weapons.
The Hard Truth
Fangio would need a complete makeover if he’s going to remain as the Broncos head coach. No more just defense he has to relate to both sides of the ball. Becoming more fiery and vocal would also be a huge step to commanding the team. Fangio is a genius as a defensive coordinator and we should all put our hopes behind him being a genius head coach.