Vic Fangio is out in Denver after three underwhelming seasons. The Denver Broncos fired their head coach after finishing a third straight year under .500 and out of the playoffs. Now, GM George Paton’s focus turns to identifying Fangio’s replacement. There will be many candidates for what on paper is a very appealing job. Here are three that we find most interesting.
Vic Fangio fired in Denver
The decision to fire Fangio wasn’t an easy one for Paton, who likes and respects the former head coach. But a change became necessary after the Broncos finished in the bottom 10 in scoring in each of the last three seasons.
Plus, Fangio’s game management left plenty to be desired. He has lost 12 of his 16 challenges as an NFL head coach. There was then also a much-criticized decision to kick a field goal when trailing by seven in Week 18 of the 2021 season. The Broncos would not get the ball back and would lose a game they at times had dominated.
“This morning, George and I informed Vic of the decision to part ways with him as head coach of the Denver Broncos,” Broncos CEO Joe Ellis said in a statement.
“For the last three seasons, Vic put his heart and soul into coaching the Broncos,” Ellis continued. “I want to thank Coach Fangio for giving his maximum effort to our organization since the day he was hired. George will have full authority to select the next head coach of the Broncos. This is his decision and his program. I have complete confidence in George’s ability to lead an exhuastive and successful head coaching search. We will give George every available resource and fully support him in hiring the very best head coach to lead the Broncos.”
Three Broncos head coach replacements
We expect Paton to cast a wide net as he makes his first coaching hire. He inherited Fangio when he arrived in 2021, and while the two men are said to have an excellent relationship, this might be the only chance Paton gets to put his true imprint on the franchise.
Dan Quinn, Defensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
PFN Draft Analyst Tony Pauline was among the first to link Dan Quinn to Denver, and it makes sense on many levels.
Unlike the last two Broncos coaches, Quinn won’t be learning on the job. He has experience in the big seat, leading the Atlanta Falcons to a 46-44 record (including the postseason) in his six years as the head coach.
Quinn’s star had certainly fallen by the end of his time in Atlanta. But he has rehabilitated his reputation by doing a fantastic job in his first year as the Cowboys defensive coordinator.
Then there’s the personal aspect. Quinn and Paton go back a long way — at least to 2005, when both worked for the Miami Dolphins (Quinn as an assistant coach, Paton as the director of pro personnel).
Nathaniel Hackett, Offensive Coordinator, Green Bay Packers
Call this the Aaron Rodgers Plan. The No. 1 reason Fangio is out of work is that he couldn’t get the quarterback position right. Between Rodgers and Brett Favre, that hasn’t been an issue in Green Bay in three decades.
Rodgers has played some of the best football of his great NFL career with Nathaniel Hackett as his OC. There’s reason to believe that if he forces his way out of Wisconsin, Rodgers would consider following Hackett to the Rockies.
But there’s no guarantee that’ll happen — or that Hackett even prefers the Broncos job. He’s already got an interview lined up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and several more teams are expected to reach out in the coming days.
Byron Leftwich, Offensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Byron Leftwich is another in-demand name this cycle, and we’d be surprised if he doesn’t land one of the available jobs. Will it be Denver’s? Stay tuned. Leftwich reportedly interviewed with the Jaguars on Friday. But the Broncos’ overall roster strength and organizational credibility could make them a more attractive landing spot.
In the Buccaneers’ two years with Leftwich calling plays, they have won a Super Bowl and ranked in the top 10 in yards and points. Of course, it helps to have Tom Brady as your quarterback.