The Broncos hoped that they would be competing for a playoff spot this year, but they are 3-6, are in last place in the AFC West, and their starting QB, Brandon Allen, just played his first regular season game two weeks ago (though he did win it).
As such, Denver’s playoff hopes are quite slim, and apparently head coach Vic Fangio isn’t helping matters. Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, there has been consistent conflict between Fangio and his staff, and even between Fangio and some of his players (like veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders, who was traded to the 49ers last month).
La Canfora’s sources say that the relationship between Fangio and his offensive assistants is particularly troubling, with Fangio quick to dispute offensive play calls. The 61-year-old, who is in his first season as a head coach, can reportedly come across as overbearing on the headsets, and one source said, “[t]here is a negative reaction to almost every offensive play call.” Another source was more blunt, saying, “[p]retty much everyone gets treated like crap.”
Of course, the roster that GM John Elway has put together is deeply flawed, and Fangio cannot be held entirely culpable for the lack of production he has gotten from the quarterback position and the offensive line. La Canfora does not offer any speculation as to whether Elway will consider firing Fangio after the 2019 season, but the fact that Elway stuck by former HC Vance Joseph — who was clearly in over his head — for two seasons suggests that Fangio may get a chance to right the ship and work on his people skills in 2020.
That is especially true given that the team’s defense has generally performed well, which reflects well on the defensive-minded Fangio. But if the team can’t get its QB situation figured out — and Elway has not shown that he is capable of finding a franchise signal-caller — 2020 may not go much better than 2019 has.
Marcell Dareus will undergo surgery today to repair a core muscle injury, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The defensive lineman is expected to miss 4-6 weeks for Jaguars.
Here’s more around the AFC:
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said it was “possible” that CB Bryce Callahan will miss the rest of the season, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. Callaham underwent stem cell treatment on his foot last month and the original projection was 4-to-6 weeks.
A.J. Green did not practice today for the Bengals and isn’t expected to play against the Rams in London, Ben Baby of ESPN.com tweets. LT Cordy Glenn will also not play in the contest.
With the NFL now in the two-week waiting period until its final meaningful game, 30 of the 32 teams are going through offseason motions. And some of those teams are still deciding on coordinators.
Unless another Patriots assistant reneges on an agreement post-Super Bowl, or Zac Taylor makes an 11th-hour decision to remain in Los Angeles rather than taking over in Cincinnati, the eight NFL teams in need of head coaches made their choices.
So, which franchise best positioned itself for long-term success?
The trend being offensive innovation to keep up with some of the ahead-of-the-curve offenses, six of the eight teams hired offensively oriented coaches.
By a substantial margin, the Cardinals won the outside-the-box trophy. After washing out as an NFL quarterback in the mid-2000s, Kliff Kingsbury spent more than a decade as a college coach. The 39-year-old groomed some sought-after NFL talent in Patrick Mahomes, Case Keenum and Davis Webb, while also bringing Baker Mayfield to Texas Tech for a short stay. But he finished his stay in Lubbock, Texas, with a sub-.500 record. The Cards addedVance Josephand Tom Clements to be his top assistants. Because of their unconventional hire, the Cardinals will be one of the most interesting teams in 2019.
Bruce Arians‘ CBS stay lasting one year will bring one of the more interesting coaches in modern NFL history back to the sideline. Tampa Bay’s new coach is the oldest ever hired, at 66 years old. Arians will be tethered toJameis Winston, and it does not sound like he has issues with that. Arians hired several former Cardinals assistants to help him attempt to snap the NFC’s longest active playoff drought. Arians led the Cardinals to their best season, record-wise (13-3 in 2015), since the franchise has been in Arizona but is also barely a year removed from retiring.
The Packers and Browns opted for OCs, the former seeing a major difference inMatt LaFleur‘s vision than those of the other coaches that interviewed. Cleveland made the biggest continuity move of this year’s HC-seeking octet,promoting Freddie Kitchens over candidates with more experience.
LaFleur’s Titans offense regressed from Mike Mularkey‘s final unit, with Tennessee ranking 27th in points scored last season. But the 39-year-old coach, who will be working with ex-Jaguars assistant Nathaniel Hackett in overseeing the back end of Aaron Rodgers‘ prime, trained under Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Kitchens rose from position coach to head coach in less than three months, but Mayfield’s performance in the second half of the season was obviously different from his play under Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.
Taylor and Adam Gase round out the offensively geared hires, the former being perhaps the highest-variance candidate among the non-Kingsbury wing.
Although Taylor was the Dolphins’ interim OC in 2015 and McVay’s quarterbacks coach this season, he spent 2016 running a Cincinnati Bearcats offense that ranked 123rd (out of 128 Division I-FBS teams) with 19.3 points per game for a 4-8 team and was the Rams’ assistant wideouts coach as recently as 2017. Gase led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2016, but Ryan Tannehill‘s issues staying healthy and living up to his draft slot limited the former Broncos and Bears OC. The Jets saw enough to add the formerly in-demand assistant, who may be ready to bring longtime coworker Dowell Loggainswith him to the Big Apple.
Denver and Miami went with defense, with the Broncos having no competition for 2018’s assistant coach of the year and, arguably, this decade’s top DC.
The Dolphins cancelled their Vic Fangio summit, and he will be in charge of elevating a Broncos team that finished with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the early 1970s. John Elway‘s plan to reinstall Gary Kubiak as OCalso hit a snag, with the longtime friends’ disagreement on staffing leading to the Broncos hiring 49ers QBs coach Rich Scangarello. The Dolphins will become the fifth franchise to hire a Bill Belichick-era Patriotsdefensive coordinator (or de facto DC, in Brian Flores‘ case), following the Browns (Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini), Jets (Mangini), Chiefs (Crennel) and Lions (Matt Patricia). Flores helped the Patriots to yet another top-10 ranking in points allowed — their 15th in the past 18 seasons — and another Super Bowl berth.
Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!
When the Rams’ postseason run comes to a close, the Bengals are expected to offer quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor their head coaching position. With the expected move, Cincinnati cleaned house on Friday, dismissing the previous staff of Marvin Lewis, including offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, ESPN’s Katherine Terrell writes. Among the other assistants let go include running backs coach Kyle Caskey and tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes.
This move, of course, is not unexpected. Most head coaches will bring in their own guys and Taylor — or whoever ends up with the job — is no exception.
A longtime NFL assistant, Lazor began his tenure with the Falcons as an offensive quality control coach in 2003 before moving to the Redskins as an offensive assistant in 2004. After a handful of other jobs, including a stint in the college ranks with Virginia, Lazor landed the offensive coordinator role with the Dolphins in 2014. After serving there two seasons, he joined the Bengals as quarterbacks coach in 2016 and was promoted to offensive coordinator the following season. In two seasons running the show in Cincinnati, Lazor ranked in the bottom 10 in yards and bottom half in points both seasons.
Here’s more from the AFC’s coaching carousel:
Sticking in the AFC North, Browns new head coach Freddie Kitchens cleaned house after getting the job. Once person he didn’t let go, however, was Ryan Lindley, who will serve as his quarterbacks coach next season, AZCardinals.com’s Mike Jurecki tweets. Lindley, who played in the NFL from 2012-15 as a quarterback, served as the Browns running backs coach in 2018.
Also with the Browns, the team added former Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer as its special teams coordinator, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero [Twitter link]. Priefer filled the same role in Minnesota from 2011-18, but declined to re-sign with the team after his contract expired after this past season. Priefer was born in Cleveland and coached two seasons at nearby Youngstown State in the 1990s.
New Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is bringing back special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, News9 in Denver’s Mike Klis tweets. McMahon concluded his 12th season in the NFL this past season, his first as special teams coordinator with the Broncos. He previously held the same position with the Colts, Chiefs and Rams.
The Broncos have a new head coach. On Wednesday, Denver reached agreement with Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, sources tell Adam Schefter and Dan Graziano of ESPN (on Twitter). As is the usual standard, the deal will be a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth year.
“Vic really impressed us with his attention to detail — His focus is on teaching the fundamentals, technique and playing disciplined football,” GM John Elway said. “Going through this process and talking to many qualified candidates, it became clear that Vic was the best choice to lead our team. There are few things that Vic has not seen in 40 years of coaching. He’s been great on the defensive side of the ball for a number of years with a simple, detailed approach that gets results. With his intelligence and experience, Vic is as good of a football coach as you can find. He’s the perfect fit and exactly what we need as head coach of the Denver Broncos.”
The Broncos are hoping that Fangio will help restore the defense to its former glory. Meanwhile, they’ll have to pay special attention to how they fill out the rest of their staff.
Fangio was largely overlooked in last year’s cycle, but the Bears’ success in 2018 vaulted him to the top of Denver’s list. Despite their early playoff exit against the Eagles, the Bears’ D thrived – they ranked No. 1 in scoring defense and allowed just 17.7 points per game.
Fangio has spent the last four year as the Bears’ DC. Before that, he had four years as the 49ers’ DC and also had DC stints with the Panthers, Colts, and Texans.
The Broncos’ head coaching search may soon be coming to a close. Denver is GM John Elway appears to be deciding between Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, according to Mike Klis of 9News.
Fangio was largely overlooked in last year’s cycle, but he’s high atop the Broncos’ list this year. The two sides met on Monday and Elway was said to be seriously mulling him on his flight home. Fangio is 60 and has never been a head coach his 40 years of coaching, but his resume and recent results are impressive. In 2018, the Bears ranked No. 1 in scoring defense and allowed just 17.7 points per game. For all of the Broncos’ offensive woes, they’d be doing a lot better if they got back to being one of the league’s scariest defenses.
Munchak, meanwhile, is widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. Since taking the job in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger‘s sack rate has been cut roughly in half, which is no small feat. Unlike Fangio, Munchak boasts previous head coaching experience, though he’s also in the same age range. Munchak will turn 59 in March, but Elway does not seem afraid of bucking the league’s youth-forward trend.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio won’t be interviewing with the Dolphins after all. A chat was originally slated for Monday, but the Dolphins did not schedule the interview despite doing significant research on him (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).
For now, the Broncos are the only known team with interest in Fangio, but one of the other six teams (not counting the Dolphins) could always add him to the list. Fangio offers experience in five different locations as a defensive coordinator and guided a Bears defense that dominated up until Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Eagles.
When Mike Zimmer signed a Vikings extension in the 2016 offseason, the terms were not disclosed. But the sixth-year Minnesota coach revealed Thursday 2019 is the final year of his contract. While another extension could be on the way, Zimmer is, as of now, a lame-duck leader. The 62-year-old coach said he would not resign nor retire until his contract was up. It’s not unheard of for a coach to venture through a contract year, but it is obviously abnormal. The Vikings have qualified for the playoffs twice in Zimmer’s five years but were one of this season’s most disappointing teams, falling short of January football despite a roster full of extended veterans.
Here is the latest from the coaching circuit:
Elsewhere on the Vikings’ staff, the team is working to re-sign special teams coordinator Mike Preifer, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio reports (on Twitter). Minnesota is, however, exploring alternatives in case a re-up is not finalized. Preifer has been Minnesota’s ST coordinator since 2011. Preifer did not sign the rollover option after last season, per ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter link), making him a coaching free agent next week.
Brian Flores is set to meet with four teams in the coming days, and the Patriots linebackers coach’s first stop appears to be Miami. The Dolphins are making Flores their first interview, which Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets will begin Thursday night and last into Friday. Flores is slated to meet with the Browns, Broncos and Packers as well.
Another coach up for the Broncos‘ job, Zac Taylor is not the favorite going into the interview process, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. That could be expected of a 35-year-old position coach, and it could indicate the Broncos are serious about bringing Gary Kubiak back to the sideline as their OC. John Elway said a coaching role for Kubiak was being considered. A Taylor hire would seemingly impede this, but former Broncos running back C.J. Anderson said the similarities between the Rams’ offense and Kubiak’s Denver attack helped him assimilate quickly in Los Angeles. Mike Klis of 9News wonders if this could make a Taylor-Kubiak setup possible, with Klint Kubiak moving up to quarterbacks coach.
Flores’ Broncos interview will occur Monday. So will Vic Fangio‘s, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold. Taylor and Mike Munchak will interview for the job on Friday. The Broncos finished their Chuck Pagano meeting Wednesday.
The Bills are moving on from two assistants, including special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, per ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak (on Twitter). As ESPN’s Seth Walder notes (via Twitter), Buffalo finished this season with the NFL’s worst special teams efficiency rating. Buffalo also fired wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, Marvez tweets. Twice an interim head coach, with the Redskins and Browns, Robiskie just completed his 37th season as an NFL coach. He’s been a wideouts coach for five teams; Crossman was a pre-Sean McDermott-era holdover, joining the Bills’ staff as ST coordinator in 2013.
Detroit will move on from another offensive assistant, firing Derius Swinton, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Just 33, Swinton has already been an NFL assistant for 10 seasons, serving as the 49ers’ ST coordinator in 2016. Although he helped in that area in Detroit following Joe Marciano‘s midseason firing, his primary role was on offense. The Lions and OC Jim Bob Cooter parted ways this week. Despite serving under Cooter, Swinton was a Matt Patricia hire.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has two interviews lined up. He’ll meet with both the Broncos and Dolphins on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
The Broncos and Dolphins submitted interview requests for the Bears DC earlier this week and they were quickly granted, even though the Bears are gearing up for a playoff showdown against the Eagles. Their interest is understandable – Fangio produced a top-10 defense without a Pro Bowler in 2017 and now has the top DVOA unit with three Pro Bowlers. Khalil Mack has certainly boosted the Bears D, but Fangio has a track record of results.
Fangio was largely overlooked in last year’s cycle, but things should be different this time around. Assuming the experience works in his favor, Fangio’s five career stints as an NFL defensive coordinator should make him an attractive candidate for even more teams.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has long been a top-level defensive leader, but a head coaching job has eluded him in 30-plus seasons in the NFL. That may change.
The Broncos and Dolphins have submitted interview requests for the Bears’ DC, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (on Twitter). The Broncos have received such permission, per 9News’ Mike Klis (Twitter link).
Fangio, 60, cannot interview for any HC jobs this week because of the Bears’ first-round game against the Eagles. He has been an essential part of Chicago’s resurgence. Beginning his tenure with the Bears in 2015, Fangio produced a top-10 defense without a Pro Bowler in 2017 and now has the top DVOA unit with three Pro Bowlers (highlighted by trade acquisition Khalil Mack).
He received scant HC interest last year but ended up staying in the Windy City. Fangio’s career included five stops as a DC, also stopping in San Francisco under Jim Harbaugh, and featured a stay in the USFL in the mid-1980s. It will be interesting to see if a team gives the veteran coordinator an opportunity.