MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Vic Fangio’s first real day on the job as Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator was a smashing success. He said exactly what the franchise’s long-suffering fans wanted to hear.
“The NFL is a better league when the Dolphins are relevant and in the hunt,” Fangio said at his introductory news conference Monday. “And hopefully, we can get back to that.”
Vic Fangio Introduced as Miami Dolphins DC
It’s been 30 years since the Dolphins made the conference championship game, 38 years since they appeared in the Super Bowl, and a full five decades since they won it all.
But unlike the vast majority of Dolphins fans and every other member of Miami’s coaching staff, Fangio didn’t learn about Miami’s 17-0 season from the history books or dusty old highlights.
He was a teenager in Scranton, Pa., in 1972 — and just seven years away from beginning a coaching career that has continued uninterrupted ever since, save for the sabbatical year he took in 2022.
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Now 64 and presumably with millions in the bank after serving as the Denver Broncos head coach from 2019-2021, Fangio would have been forgiven if he spent his remaining years playing golf and doting over his grandchildren.
Instead, he’s taking over a significant role on a team built to compete at the highest level this year. And he insists this is no soft retirement — and he’s in it for the long haul.
“That’s who I am,” Fangio said Monday. “That’s what I do. That’s what I like to do. I still have a lot of coaching left in me.
“It’s not like I’m thinking about retirement or anything. Somebody asked, ‘How much are you going to do this?’ I don’t know. Might be 10 years, if they’ll have me here for 10 years. It’s just who I am. What I do, what I enjoy doing, I like the competition. I like teaching players, like to see players improve as individuals. And putting something together is challenging and fulfilling.”
Why Vic Fangio Chose the Dolphins
Fangio was a man in demand after his year off. Basically every team that needed a defensive coordinator considered him as a candidate, and he picked the Dolphins over the likes of the Panthers, 49ers, and the NFC champion Eagles, who lost their defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon, to the Cardinals.
Fangio is close with Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni, serving as a consultant for Philadelphia during his year off.
Finances surely played a role in Fangio choosing Miami, and credit Mike McDaniel and Stephen Ross for putting together the necessary financial package.
A quarter-century separates McDaniel and Fangio in age, and the two men aren’t particularly close. So why Miami over other places where he’d have a more natural fit?
“I think the Dolphins have a good thing going here,” Fangio said. “I like Mike and his staff that he already has in place here. I think there’s good components to the coaching staff led by Mike that made it intriguing to join that. I think there’s a good nucleus of players here and the allure of South Florida.”
That staff will include former Dolphins player Renaldo Hill, who is joining Fangio’s team of defensive assistants after spending the past two years as Chargers defensive coordinator.
McDaniel said hiring Fangio was “a very easy decision, when given the opportunity. I was really pumped that he joined in the vision and couldn’t be happier for the organization.”
Fangio’s Plans for Bradley Chubb, Dolphins’ D
Presumably, Bradley Chubb is pretty stoked too. The pass rusher represented the Dolphins in the Pro Bowl Games earlier this month, but the truth is his abbreviated first season with Miami should be viewed as his floor, in terms of production.
In eight games in 2022 following his trade from Denver to Miami, Chubb had just 2.5 sacks. And while that figure didn’t tell the true story — Chubb accounted for 16 pressures during that half-season with the Dolphins — McDaniel and Chris Grier surely expect more after giving up a first-round pick and pledging tens of millions of dollars to Chubb in the form of a new contract.
Chubb and Fangio spent three years together in Denver. When asked his impressions of his once and future player, Fangio responded:
“The three years I was with him in Denver, he was the victim of some injuries. I believe he got hurt in the fourth game the first year I was there, and it was out for the season. Came back the second year. It took him about four or five games to get into a groove coming off the injury, and then he had a good season that year.
“And then he really basically missed — it doesn’t say it statistically — but he missed most of my last year there because he had an ankle injury that kept them out, and when he came back, he wasn’t himself. He was still recovering. He had two ankle injuries. So I’m anxious to get him rolling, keep him healthy, and see the Bradley Chubb that we all know he’s capable of being.”
Fangio’s defense works best when he gets pressure with his front four. As he pointed out Monday, he’s not against blitzing, per se. But he also doesn’t want to feel like he has to biltz to create pressure.
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That means Chubb and fellow Dolphins pass rusher Jaelan Phillips both need to step up.
“They have great potential, but you know — potential, we got to see it,” Fangio said. “You know, talking about it is easy. Projecting it is easy, but we got to see it. And I’m confident knowing those two guys’ work ethic that they’ll do everything they can to put a good product out there on the field from both of them. But they both have the tools, both have the makeup of being really good players on the edges for us.”