And then there were two.
Mike Klis of 9News.com reports the Denver Broncos appear to be down to two candidates to fill their vacant head-coaching position. As it comes down to the wire, Broncos President/GM John Elway is reportedly choosing between Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio and Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak. But if all things are equal coming down the stretch, Klis seems to believe Fangio “may have a slight edge” in this derby.
If the Broncos hire Fangio, the team is expected to keep much of its offensive infrastructure in place. And while that could be the case if Munchak is hired, it would be difficult to imagine an offensive-leaning coach wouldn’t want to re-work that side of the ball with his own guys. This leaves Fangio with a perceived edge, because he could step into a situation without getting his hands dirty trying to fix the other side of the ball. It’s a luxury Matt Nagy was afforded when he replaced John Fox last year and leaned on Fangio to keep continuity on defense. Among Denver’s offensive assistants who could be staying put under Fangio (should he get the job) are Wide Receivers Coach Zach Azzanni and Running Backs Coach Curtis Modkins, both of whom worked along side Fangio under Fox in 2017. It’s an added bonus to see familiar faces when you take a new job.
More important than familiarity with position coaches, Denver could reach out to bring back former head coach Gary Kubiak to take over as the offensive coordinator. Kubiak was in charge when the Broncos won Super Bowl 50, but retired after the 2016 season due to health issues. But if Kubiak were to come back in a role more conducive to his health as a top offensive assistant, the Broncos would essentially be hiring a head coach for both sides of the ball. And as Klis points out, Fangio has a prior working relationship with Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, who once worked with Kubiak. It’s a small world, after all.
Last week, we discussed Fangio being a logical fit based on the criteria Elway set forth when he started his coaching search. So seeing that arrows continue to point toward Fangio being the preferred candidate is a bit unsettling, especially if you consider what it would mean for the Bears. If Chicago loses Fangio to this job, it would have to set course on a coaching search of its own. And while Nagy has a plan, the preferred option would be to retain Fangio for his fifth season with the team.
A major domino is about to fall in the NFL coaching circle and the ripple effect could impact the Bears soon.