Seeking their fourth coach in six years and eager for a rebound, the Broncos interviewed Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on Monday in Chicago. It completed the five planned interviews, leaving the Broncos in the stretch run to name their new field boss.
Fangio is well-regarded in NFL circles and guided a Bears defense that paced the league in takeaways (36), rushing yards allowed (80.0) and points per game (17.7) this season. It ended abruptly for Fangio on Sunday as the team with the No. 1 ranked defense went one-and-done in the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers. He spoke with the Broncos this morning, and Denver pushed its return flight from noon Colorado time 4:30 mountain time. Fangio returned to Halas Hall around noon Colorado time, and was scheduled to address the Bears players. He had dinnner with John Elway, and the Broncos plane took off from Chicago at 5:11 p.m., and Fangio was not on the plane. So the Broncos return home to check notes, and zero in on their next coach.
Signs point toward the Broncos making a choice this week.
Fangio followed former Colts boss Chuck Pagano, Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores in the interview process.
At 60, Fangio brings a padded resume of work. He has served as a defensive coordinator since 1995 with stops in Carolina, Indianapolis, Houston, San Francisco and Chicago, where's he worked since 2015. The Dolphins also planned to interview Fangio as well, but never scheduled a meeting, per NFL Network.
The Broncos have conducted a more expansive search than when they hired Gary Kubiak and Vance Joseph, who appeared locks before the process began. Kubiak brought the Broncos a Super Bowl 50 title, and is expected to coach in some capacity for Denver next season. The Broncos have declined interview requests from the Falcons and Bengals to speak with Kubiak. It's fair to assume Kubiak will have a coaching role with the Broncos going forward -- general manager John Elway said as much a week ago -- and that he wants to stay. Had he desired to leave, it's believed Broncos would not have blocked the requests.
Entering Monday, former Steelers line coach Mike Munchak was considered the slight frontrunner for the Broncos job. He brings a presence and instant credibility as a Hall of Fame player and former head coach. Munchak carries a reputation as one of the league's best offensive line coaches. The Broncos offensive line improved some this season, despite injuries. However, pass blocking remains an issues. The Broncos allowed 34 sacks last season, 18 fewer than in 2017. Left tackle Garett Bolles showed prowess in run blocking, but was penalized 10 times, among them nine holding calls.
Munchak went 22-26 as the Titans coach from 2011-13. According to reports, he could have continued as head coach, but he declined to fire multiple assistants. Munchank's daugther, son-in-law and grandchild live in the Denver area.
Like Munchak, Pagano boasts head coaching experience, producing three playoff berths with the Colts. Taylor impressed the Broncos with his offensive ideas, but has never been a full-time coordinator. It doesn't rule him out, but his resume makes him an outlier in this search. Known for his tough coaching style, Flores is considered a future NFL head coach. Is he ready now after one year as a coordinator? Joseph had a similar resume and his inexperience showed.
Fangio boasts a strong defensive background, and perhaps paired with the right offensive coordinator, can revive a Broncos franchise that has missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.