Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio after second consecutive final

ENGLEWOOD, Colo .– For the second time in four years, the Denver Broncos’ continuing playoff drought has cost the head coach his job.

The Broncos, after a 7-10 record, sacked Vic Fangio on Sunday as they missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

Broncos president and CEO Joe Ellis said he briefed Fangio of the decision in a conversation on Sunday morning that also included general manager George Paton.

“Over the past three seasons, Vic has put all his heart and soul into coaching the Broncos,” Ellis said in a statement. “I would like to thank Coach Fangio for giving the maximum effort to our organization since the day he was hired.

“George will have full authority to select the next Broncos head coach. It is his decision and his schedule. I have every confidence in George’s ability to conduct a comprehensive and successful head coach search.

“We will give George all available resources and fully support him in hiring the best head coach to lead the Broncos.”

The Broncos fired Fangio’s predecessor Vance Joseph after the 2018 season after two years of service. He is currently the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Broncos’ defense finished in the league’s top 10 in almost every major category, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater clocked a career-high 18 touchdowns despite missing the last three games with concussion. . But Denver’s hesitant offense and inconsistent special teams play ultimately cost Fangio his job.

Fangio, 63, has completed the third year of a four-year contract he signed when he replaced Joseph in 2019.

Fangio’s fall, beyond his record 19-30 in his three seasons, has been fueled by the still-ongoing search for a long-term solution to the quarterback, a change at GM ( Paton was hired to replace John Elway in 2021) and a struggling to score points. There were also some ownership upheavals, which included a legal battle with the team set to be sold over the coming year.

Fangio has also encountered obstacles amid the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two seasons, including a 2020 loss to the New Orleans Saints in which the Broncos had none of their quarterbacks in uniform. for the match.

“I have immense respect for Vic and all he has accomplished in the NFL,” Paton said in a statement. “Over the past year, I appreciate his partnership, his friendship and the tireless work ethic he has demonstrated as a head coach.

“Vic will continue to be very successful in this league, and I thank him for all he has done for the Broncos as well as for me personally.”

The Broncos were 7-6 and were squarely in the AFC’s confused playoff race with four games to go. Paton had said several times during the second half of the season how much he respected Fangio and how much he enjoyed “working with Vic”.

But the last four games haven’t gone well, with the Broncos losing everyone. Denver has not played a playoff game since winning Super Bowl 50 to close the 2015 season, and has not finished above 0.500 since a 9-7 in 2016.

Players had often said that they appreciated Fangio’s honesty and straightforward demeanor. But the quarterback’s turnstile, another season where he failed to score more than 23 points per game – they haven’t since 2014 – and more than a few other bobbles on special teams were too tough to overcome for Fangio.

Bridgewater was the 10th different quarterback to start at least one game for the Broncos since Week 13 of the 2016 season, a total that does not include running back Philip Lindsay opening behind center in the 2020 game against the Saints.

Elway, who stepped down as the team’s chief football decision maker after the 2020 season – he remained president of football operations – hired Fangio with the hope that his discipline, responsibility, teaching and expertise. the defensive side of the ball would be enough to break the Broncos’ drought in the playoffs.

At the time, Elway called these things “the foundation of football,” and Fangio had waited decades for his first opportunity as a head coach. Fangio had promised that the details would matter and that the Broncos would not suffer “death by inches”.

But even his hope of a dynamic pass rush duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb fueling the defense failed to materialize. Chubb missed all but four games of the 2019 season with an ACL tear and Miller missed the entire 2020 season with an ankle injury.

Chubb then missed nine of the season’s first 10 games after ankle surgery, and Paton traded Miller to the Los Angeles Rams in early November.

The Broncos will be an attractive landing point for Fangio’s replacement with a young team, plenty of room for the salary cap and 11 picks already in hand for the April draft.

“Looking forward, there is a lot of work to be done for us to take the next step,” Paton said in a statement Sunday. “Winning is not easy, and we will take the opportunity to improve in every area of ​​our operations.

“Our search to find the next Broncos head coach will be a comprehensive and collaborative process. We approach it with an open mind and look forward to spending time with outstanding candidates.”

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