DENVER — Vic Fangio's coaching tree looks more like a palm tree.
For the second consecutive season, the Broncos have lost a top assistant to California. Defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill has been tabbed as the Los Angeles Chargers new defensive coordinator under new boss Brandon Staley, sources confirmed to Denver7.
Staley departed Denver a year ago, promoted from outside linebackers coach to the Rams DC. It only took one season for him to distinguish himself as one of the game's brightest young minds -- the Sean McVay of defense -- as he landed the Chargers top job after the Rams posted the top-ranked unit in the NFL.
Hill, 42, drew high marks with the Broncos the past two seasons that were defined by change, injuries and battles with COVID-19. It was during defensive boss Ed Donatell's five-game absence while dealing with the virus that Hill shone, sharing responsibilities with Broncos quality control coach Chris Beake.
"I thought Coach Hill and Coach Beake did a great job of stepping in and just really filling in where Ed has done such a consistent job since the time that I've known him," safety Justin Simmons said.
"It was great having Coach Hill on the sidelines with us because we're so used to him being in the box, but he was another guy that I thought really just did a great job of just being that calming presence and just talking us through some things that we were seeing and what he was seeing and some adjustments. I just thought the overall composure of the secondary was in good hands with coach kind of being down there with us and helping us through different things. I thought they did a tremendous job stepping up. It's just a testament to them and to Coach Ed and the guys we have.”
Donatell had never missed a game in his pro career. He praised his assistants for "stepping up." It began early in training camp as Hill and Beake helped accelerate the development of rookies Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey, who played significant snaps in their rookie season despite no preseason games.
"Those guys had been working around the clock with those guys in training camp, the short COVID camp. It’s a credit to the players for having the spirit to work with the coaches and to advance in a short period of time," Donatell said.
Staley runs Fangio's scheme, and aced it with stars Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald last season with the Rams. Hill, who played 10 years in the NFL, including his final two seasons as a safety with the Broncos, inherits a Chargers defense that struggled to close out games.
Hill knows cornerback Chris Harris Jr. well, having coached him in Denver. Harris was on board with the hiring of Staley last week.
"I love it," he said.