Vic Fangio Finds 'Match' With Broncos

After four years in Chicago, Fangio was introduced as the Broncos' coach Thursday.

Chris Emma
January 10, 2019 - 2:40 pm

(670 The Score) There came a time during Vic Fangio's 32 years as an NFL assistant coach that he accepted the fact that head coaching opportunity might not come.

Fangio, now 60, was getting older while NFL coaches were getting younger. He was OK with that, understanding both the trends of this league and that his direct personality wasn't appealing in some head coaching searches. But that all changed in Denver on Thursday.

The Broncos introduced Fangio, who spent the last four seasons as the Bears' defensive coordinator, as their new head coach. Finally, Fangio gets his chance.

"Basically, I've always felt I never fit the match of the profile of what certain teams were looking for," Fangio said in his introductory press conference. "Or I was with teams that weren't succeeding at that time. Fortunately, I matched the profile of what (Broncos president of football operations John Elway) was looking for, and we formed a good marriage."

Before answering questions, Fangio offered his gratitude to a number of important figures in his life, including the Bears' brass of coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace, chairman George McCaskey and team matriarch Virginia McCaskey. Fangio even wore an orange tie given to him by George McCaskey, who suggested he didn't wear the typical "business suit," as Fangio called it, of gray sweatshirt and sweatpants.

Fangio first interviewed with the Broncos on Monday morning, still fresh off the Bears' heartbreaking 16-15 loss to the Eagles on Sunday afternoon in the wild-card round. In the aftermath of that game, Fangio said he spent some time "mourning" the outcome before returning to his office and preparing for the interview with Elway and the Broncos' brass.

"I didn't have to make a fancy presentation," Fangio said. "I just took the stuff I use daily and yearly."

By Monday afternoon, Fangio was back with the Bears at Halas Hall as the players cleaned out their lockers and conducted exit interviews. He had dinner with Elway one-on-one that night in the Chicago area before waiting as the Broncos decided between him and Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

Fangio would be the choice for Elway, who cited the attention to detail with which Fangio operates and his schemes as two attractive characteristics. Fangio took a Bears team that ranked 31st in scoring defense in 2014 before his arrival and transformed it into the league's stingiest scoring defense this past season.

Whether Fangio will lure assistants from the Bears to join his staff remains to be seen. It's also unclear whether Nagy has a handshake agreement with his now-former assistant to not steal coaches from Chicago, which is something Chiefs coach Andy Reid has maintained with his former assistants. 

Back at Halas Hall, the Bears felt joy for their friend and former colleague Fangio.

"There are only 32 of these jobs in the world and I know what it means to him to get his chance in Denver," Nagy said in a statement. "I also want to thank him for all his help in my first season with the Chicago Bears. It is bittersweet to move on, but he has more than earned this opportunity and I could not be happier for him.”

The Bears' plan to replace Fangio remained unclear as he was being introduced in Denver and may not come to light by the end of Thursday. Nagy and Pace have yet to hold their year-end press conference in Lake Forest,and it won't happen this week, the team confirmed. The Bears may be waiting to secure a new defensive coordinator before having Nagy and Pace hold court.

Fangio referenced his respect for Nagy -- under whom he worked only one season -- and even mentioned the word "obsessed" in rebuilding the Broncos, who were 11-21 under former head coach Vance Joseph in the past two years.

The Broncos are now counting on Fangio to turn their fortunes around as he did with the Bears and their now-revived defense.

"It's obviously something I thought about throughout my career at various times, but I was comfortable enough in my own skin where it didn't have to happen," Fangio said. "I was happy to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL for close to 20 years. If a good situation ever (arose) and I matched what a certain team was looking for, I'd be all in. And I believe I found that here. I'm all in."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​