Broncos' Fangio has nothing but praise for his former Bears students

  • Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio listens to questions during a news conference at the end of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. Oakland won the game 24-16.

    Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio listens to questions during a news conference at the end of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. Oakland won the game 24-16. Associated Press

By Arthur Arkush
Updated 9/11/2019 7:13 PM

New Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio fielded more questions during his 10-minute teleconference Wednesday with local reporters on his golf game than he did regarding his Week 2 reunion against his former team, the Chicago Bears.

That probably says as much as anything about the way Fangio endeared himself to the media during his four years in Chicago, when he took the NFL's 31st-ranked defense in points allowed the year prior to his arrival to football's very best last season, finally propelling a football lifer to the top of his profession for the first time at the age of 61.


It'd be understandable, then, for Fangio to have some extra sentiments as he reviews the still-dominant play of a Bears 'D' that returned 10 of 12 starters from Week 1. Did Fangio feel a bit like a parent watching his kids succeed?

"I can't consider it that, I'm no longer there. It's the Bears' defense, not mine," said Fangio, deflecting as usual. "It wasn't ... it was the Bears defense when I was there. But I have a lot of fondness and good memories of being with those players. I really liked being around them on a daily basis. And that's something that I'll never forget and I appreciate that situation was there for me."

Does Fangio miss not getting the seemingly weekly questions regarding linebacker Leonard Floyd's sack total?

"Yeah, I told you guys time and time again that he's a really good player," Fangio said after a chuckle. "He's had some injuries that slowed him down early in his career. But they knew what they were doing when they gave him that fifth-year option. He's a (heck) of a football player, and he's going to continue to have a (heck) of a career, and he'll just keep getting better and better."

Rest assured, Fangio's new offensive coordinator, Rich Scangarello, will have his hands full this week preparing for Floyd, coming off an electrifying Week 1, in addition to Khalil Mack.

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And the new Broncos head coach is likely to be as concerned with Eddie Jackson as anyone in Chicago's thieving secondary. When did Fangio first realize the former fourth-rounder-turned-first-team All Pro was special?

"Very early," Fangio recalled. "... I don't know, definitely within the first week, maybe three days or so that I said to [secondary coach] Ed Donatell, 'This guy's really going to be good.' And Ed kind of got a little taken back. 'Well, how can you tell already? Ya know? Jeez, you want to crown him or something.' I said, 'I can just tell. This guy's got it.'

"Just his total instincts and feel for the game. His body movement. The way he just reacted to things and saw things. He saw them quicker than most and reacted quicker than most. And then he had the talent to take advantage of those reactions."

These are precisely the type of detailed analyses, the candor and respectful interaction that made Fangio so appreciated among those that covered him. Fortunately, Matt Nagy has followed suit, but it was tough not getting a bit nostalgic Wednesday in visiting with Vic.


Linebacker Danny Trevathan's reunion in Denver will obviously carry more significance than solely seeing his old coordinator again. He, of course, was the leading tackler on the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl 50 championship team. Emotions will be high because, well, that's Trevathan's personality.

"Danny's a very positively emotional guy," Fangio said. "He's totally into the team. He wants the team to do well. He wants to be a leader, and he is just because of the way he plays and his emotional fire and the intensity with which he plays.

"He's a contagious guy in that regard besides being a (heck) of a football player. So he's really been a nice pickup for the Bears."

And even in a town where defensive coordinators are held in higher regard than most, and whose team went to the playoffs only once during his tenure and compiled a combined 26-39 mark, it's hard to describe how valuable a pickup Fangio was by the Bears.

• Twitter: @ArthurArkush.


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