The Broncos are restoring order, and other thoughts on the Fangio firing

Jan 11, 2022, 6:00 AM
Drop the Mike...

• This had to be done. A 19-30 record over three years and even more galling an 0-6 record vs the Chiefs and 5-13 against the AFC West meant Vic Fangio had to go. I’m surprised so many people doubted this would happen. It doesn’t speak to a whole lot of confidence towards general manager George Paton, which I don’t understand.

• Actually, I take that back. I do understand. For the whole “you gotta draft a QB even if you don’t love him” crowd, Paton committing the unforgivable sin of not picking Justin Fields is something they’ll never get over. So Paton’s name is mud from now on.

• That crowd I can’t help. But for the rational folks out there, I would hope they agree with me. I like Paton. He has made a favorable first impression on me. As a result, I trusted him to do the right thing. Even if he didn’t like it. I got a kick out of reports saying Paton didn’t want to fire Vic as some sign of weakness. I believe him. I don’t believe he wanted to fire Vic. But that’s a lot different than having to fire Vic. Paton understood he had to part ways with Fangio.

• And why wouldn’t he? Isn’t this what being an NFL GM is all about? Paton waited years for this opportunity. What does every new GM want to do? They want to “play” GM. That means hiring your head coach. That means putting your imprint on the organization. That means finding your QB. Now, Paton gets to do that after a backwards first year. Man, have the Broncos been a dysfunctional bunch or what? From the uncertain ownership to a presumed lame-duck coach being part of the hiring of Paton, everything around the Broncos has reeked of chaos and the tail wagging the dog.

• Now, I feel Broncos Country can start to feel like this franchise is going in the right direction. New ownership is on the horizon. The days of the muddled trust and Bowlen family escapades will be behind us. John Elway will be taking a reduced role or gone entirely. George Paton will be the man in charge. He can hire his coach and install his philosophy. It’s not guaranteed to work. But at least for now, it will be orderly and for now, that is a welcome change.

• As for the next head coach. I’ve been around here long enough to consider myself a bit of a Broncos’ historian. Here’s what I know to be true. The Broncos’ most-recent success have come with experienced – um, cough, cough – “retread” coaches. Mike Shanahan was a retread. John Fox was a retread. Gary Kubiak was a retread. Not a bad trio right there.

• As for the hotshot assistant route, hmmm, that hasn’t worked out so well has it? Broncos are currently riding a three-coach losing streak. Josh McDaniels, Vance Joseph and now Fangio.

• So, armed with that bit of indisputable history, the choice for me is clear. I want nothing to do with first time head coaches. Give me a retread. I’m fine with that. I want a head coach. I want someone to come in and lead the entire team. I’m not interested in someone who will come in only obsessed with one side of the ball. I want a head coach who can come in, energize the building, form a culture, build a strong staff, let those qualified, talented people do their jobs and be the CEO of an NFL Fortune 500 powerhouse.

• I want a head coach who spends game days with a headset on and that’s it. I don’t want his nose buried in some play sheet. I want him to spend time with the defense while the offense is on the field. I want him to spend time with the offense while the defense is on the field. I want him to have the time and freedom to go pump up a player who just made a great play and chastise a guy for making a dumb one.

• Now, let’s talk names. For weeks, my No. 1 target has been and remains Dan Quinn. I was at the Super Bowl when he coached the Falcons. That was an impressive team that you can tell was run the right way. Yep, they blew the game. 28-3. Terrible. Honestly, the kind of loss the participants can never move past as long as they remained in Atlanta. He had to be fired there and he needed to go and recharge somewhere else.

• That place has been Dallas. Talk to the folks there. As an assistant, as a defensive coordinator, he’s been able to elevate the energy of that entire building. He’s exactly the ball of energy type personality staid old Dove Valley needs. He’ll come in and be a tone setter. He and Paton can build a staff of good coordinators who can obsess over their side of the ball.

• And don’t give me that “he’s a defensive guy!” Who cares? When he was in Atlanta, he oversaw an offense that scored 540 points (by contrast, the Broncos 2013 juggernaut scored 606). His offense featured the league MVP in Matt Ryan and an up and coming offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan. Wouldn’t having a hotshot young OC here who in three years was considered a future head coach and might be ready to leave Denver be a nice problem to have and a nice bridge to cross when you come across it?

• So it’s Quinn has my top choice. Throw in a Jim Caldwell and Doug Pedersen into the mix with an exploration into what went wrong with Brian Flores in Miami and that would be a great pool of head coaching choices for me.

Drop the Mike

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The Broncos are restoring order, and other thoughts on the Fangio firing