New Broncos coach Vic Fangio emphasized Thursday the importance of running a disciplined team.
Late to a meeting? Unacceptable.
Late to practice? Unacceptable.
Not run a drill correctly? Do it again.
Transgressions big and small, he said, lead to what he calls “Death by Inches.” Let one thing slide, and that leads to another, and pretty soon you have a snowball of mistakes that leads to an avalanche of losses.
“He looks like a straight-shooter and that’s what we need,” defensive tackle Shelby Harris said. “On a team with a lot of young guys, you can’t give them that much leeway all the time. They have to be disciplined and do things the right way.”
Several Broncos attended Fangio’s introductory news conference, including Harris, fellow defensive tackle Domata Peko, defensive ends Zach Kerr and Adam Gotsis, linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Chicago cornerback Prince Amukamara posted on Twitter to share his emotions about the departure of his defensive coordinator. Amukamara simply wrote: #cursewords.
“Any time you get a coach leaving and you get people tweeting about (him) saying, ‘Coach, we’re going to miss you. You’re the best.’ That shows what type of coach he was,” Peko said. “Broncos Country is very lucky and fortunate that we have a great coach here.”
For Miller, Fangio will be his fourth head coach, following John Fox, Gary Kubiak and Vance Joseph, who was dismissed in December. At the news conference, Fangio said he looked forward to working with Miller, and helping him become even better.
“I’ve never been to an (introductory) press conference,” Miller told the team website. “But it was something special about Coach Fangio that I had to come meet him in person, to be around the energy and witness it. I’m excited about it. He’s going to be a great coach.”
Miller’s excitement stems from his close relationship with several of Fangio’s notable pupils, including cornerback Richard Sherman (Stanford) and edge rushers Aldon Smith (49ers) and Khalil Mack (Bears). Miller said: “Just about everybody has raved about Coach Fangio.”
Fangio answered 24 wide-ranging questions. What seemed to resonate most with players, though, were responses that showed a renewed commitment to discipline, which has been a serious problem for Denver.
One example? The Broncos were flagged 125 times to rank 31st in the NFL this past season. Fangio’s defenses in Chicago have been among the least penalized in the league the past four years, thereby avoiding “death by inches.”
Broncos cornerback Chris Harris wasn’t in attendance Thursday, but added his thoughts in a FaceTime interview with the team.
“I was happy with it, man,” Harris said. “He has a lot of experience in the NFL and he’s been waiting for his chance to be a head coach. I think we have a lot of weapons on the defensive side for him to play with. I’m excited about it.”
The collective reaction back in Chicago also gave Broncos’ players reason to smile, too.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace called Fangio “a key leader in bringing great defense back to Chicago” in a statement.
Bears coach Matt Nagy added: “It is bittersweet to move on but he has more than earned his opportunity and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
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