In 42 games, Vic Fangio’s Broncos have endured 20 embarrassing efforts
Nov 15, 2021, 2:58 PM | Updated: 3:00 pm
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Vic Fangio has been the Broncos head coach for 42 games. In that time, he’s amassed a 17-25 record.
That’s not good. But how Fangio has arrived at the record is even worse.
Far too often, the head coach has presided over embarrassing moments. He’s made blunders. His team has faltered. His coaching staff has struggled. It’s been one thing after another, leading to a lot of head hanging in Broncos Country.
Fresh off another debacle, a 30-13 loss at home to the Eagles on Sunday, it seemed like a good time to recall the other low points of the Fangio era. On 20 different occasions, the Broncos have been embarrassed with their current head coach at the helm.
1. Week 1 | 2019 – In Vic Fangio’s debut as the Broncos head coach, his team was down 14-0 at halftime, 21-6 early in the fourth quarter and 24-9 until the waning moments of the game. Denver was never competitive, losing in their last-ever trip to Oakland.
2. Week 2 | 2019 – The Broncos took a 14-13 lead with 31 seconds to play, but couldn’t hold it against the Bears. They let Mitchell Trubisky go 40 yards in six plays, including a fourth-and-15 conversion with :09 on the clock, to set up the game-winning field goal.
3. Week 4 | 2019 – The Broncos took a 24-23 lead with 1:32 to play, couldn’t hold it against the Jaguars. They let Gardner Minshew go 60 yards in eight plays to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired. It was deja vu at Empower Field.
4. Week 7 | 2019 – The Chiefs lost Patrick Mahomes to a knee injury in the first half, but it didn’t matter. The Broncos were trailing 13-6 when the QB was hurt, but still managed to give up 17 unanswered points to a team led by Matt Moore en route to a 30-6 loss in front of a national TV audience.
5. Week 8 | 2019 – The Broncos led 13-12 with 1:48 to play and the Colts were pinned at their own 11-yard line. Then, they surrendered a seven-play, 56-yard drive to Jacoby Brissett that set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal with 22 seconds left on the clock.
6. Week 11 | 2019 – Behind quarterback Brandon Allen, the Broncos built a 20-0 halftime lead. It evaporated after the break, however, as Kirk Cousins threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns, guiding the Vikings to four second-half touchdowns and a 27-23 come-from-behind victory over Denver.
7. Week 12 | 2019 – The Broncos managed nine first downs, 49 yards passing and 134 yards of total offense en route to a 23-3 loss to the Bills. On a cold, blustery day in Buffalo, Brandon Allen couldn’t get anything going, as Denver was outmatched from the opening kickoff.
8. Week 1 | 2020 – Leading 14-13 with 3:05 to play, the Broncos had the Titans pinned back at their own 7-yard line. But it didn’t matter, as Ryan Tannehill guided Tennessee into position for a 25-yard, game-winning field goal. The Broncos had just 20 seconds to respond, thanks to Vic Fangio’s mismanagement of timeouts late in the game.
9. Week 4 | 2020 – The Broncos got the win on “Thursday Night Football,” but the 37-28 victory wasn’t the most-memorable part of the night. Instead, it was Vic Fangio’s inability to run out the clock at the end of the game, instead allowing the Jets defense to repeatedly hit quarterback Brett Rypien.
10. Week 7 | 2020 – The Broncos surrendered touchdowns to the Chiefs offense, defense and special teams, en route to a 43-16 loss at home. On a day when Patrick Mahomes only threw for 200 yards, Denver still wasn’t able to compete, as they lost to Kansas City for a 10th-straight time.
11. Week 9 | 2020 – The week after a come-from-behind win over the Chargers, the Broncos traveled to Atlanta and got boat raced by the Falcons. The final score was 34-27, but Denver was down 34-13 in the fourth quarter. The Falcons scored on all four of the first-half possessions, as the Broncos were never in the game.
12. Week 10 | 2020 – The Broncos only trailed 10-6 at halftime to the Raiders, but things went off the rails after intermission. Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker ran all over Denver, combining for 193 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Oakland also had the ball for nearly 37 minutes.
13. Week 12 | 2020 – The Broncos were forced to play the game without a quarterback after their entire QB room was placed in COVID protocol. Left without a contingency plan, Denver had to use wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who completed one pass for 13 yards and threw a pair of picks in a 31-3 debacle.
14. Week 15 | 2020 – The Broncos hung around for a half, trailing the Bills by a 21-13 count at intermission. Then, the wheels came off. Buffalo did whatever they wanted on offense en route to a 48-19 victory at Empower Field, as Josh Allen threw for 359 yards against the team that could’ve drafted him.
15. Week 17 | 2020 – The Broncos had more yards and time of possession, committed 10 fewer penalties and were +4 in turnover margin, but still lost 32-31 to the Raiders. That’s nearly impossible to do, but it happened in part because Vic Fangio called a timeout in the final moments to allow Las Vegas to get their two-point play ready.
16. Week 4 | 2021 – Trying to hold the Ravens under 100 yards rushing, Vic Fangio was furious that Baltimore ran the ball on the final play of the game. The head coach seemed to care more about breaking the Ravens streak than the fact that his team was down 23-7 at home.
17. Week 6 | 2021 – Six days after Jon Gruden was unceremoniously fired, Vic Fangio was out-coached by the Raiders interim head coach. At one point in the game, Rich Bisaccia’s group had a 31-10 lead on Fangio’s team at Empower Field.
18. Week 7 | 2021 – The Browns were playing without their starting quarterback or their top two running backs. Nevertheless, Cleveland was able to win with Case Keenum at quarterback and D’Earnest Johnson racking up 146 yards on the ground.
19. Week 8 | 2021 – Yes, the Broncos won the game, but it came in embarrassing fashion. Denver led 17-10 with 37 seconds to play in the game when they took possession of the ball. But they mismanaged the clock and fumbled the ball, giving Washington one last shot at the end.
20. Week 10 | 2021 – A week after the most-impressive win of the Vic Fangio era, the Broncos laid an egg against the Eagles, losing 30-13 on their home field to a team that entered the game with a 3-6 record. Bad defense. Terrible special teams. And Teddy Bridgewater making a business decision on a fumble return were the keys to the loss.
On Monday, Fangio showed up at work, met with his team and spoke with the media. It was business as usual at Dove Valley, as nothing changed, setting the stage for more follies down the road.