Vic’s seat is hotter than the nation’s current temperatures and chairs for NFL coaches named Mike and Matt.
No matter who is selected the starting quarterback, if the Broncos don’t win nine games this season, Vic Fangio will not be retained as head coach in 2022.
Fangio can earn hero coach status with a winning record and a return to the postseason for the Broncos for the first time since Super Bowl 50.
If he has another sub-.500 season, Fangio won’t survive under a new controlling owner and a second-year general manager who didn’t choose him.
John Elway and Joe Ellis, who hired Fangio, will be on their way out and can’t protect Fangio from being fired.
It would be Operation Clean Sweep.
Not even Mike Shanahan — the Broncos’ most successful coach ever with two championships, a Ring of Famer last year and a future Hall of Famer — kept his job after a three-season record of 24-24 and no playoffs.
Truth is Fangio has no chance of returning if his three-season mark is 20-29 or worse, without a postseason. If Brittany Bowlen is named the owner-CEO, she’ll want a fresh start, and an outside multi-billionaire who would purchase the franchise certainly would seek his own coach. George Paton, with a different boss, will concur.
Offensive coordinators Eric Bieniemy, Brian Daboll and Joe Brady, or Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, would be successor candidates.
So, Fangio must win a game in September (after dropping all seven in 2019-20), must be at .500 or a higher winning percentage at the end of October and November (for the first time) and must finish in January 9-8 or better after 7-9 and 5-11 records. Second place in the division and at least one playoff game definitely will insure Fangio the fourth season of his contract.
Anything less, and Vic’s gone — like eight other Broncos head coaches who didn’t last into a second, third or fourth season.
A betting site recently updated its odds on the first NFL coach to be fired during the upcoming season. Mike McCarthy was the “winner’’ at 15/2, followed by Fangio at 8/1 and Matt Nagy at 17/2. Mike Zimmer, whose Vikings the Broncos blistered last Saturday, is 11/1.
However, Fangio won’t have to worry about being dismissed during 2021. His situation, unlike Josh McDaniels in 2010, is secure until season’s end.
Fangio is more concerned at the moment with making a decision on the starting quarterback, which could determine the team’s and his own future. The quarterbacks and his choice are “close’,’ he says. But the Broncos’ brass already knows who’s the leader. They’re just not telling. A couple of days after the exhibition in Seattle, Fangio probably will announce the most important QB resolution before a season since “The Great Quarterback Battle of 2017” as then coach Van Joseph said: “When I see separation, I’ll call it off.’’ Trevor Siemian won in a walk over Paxton Lynch.
Although Drew Lock should be the regular-season starter — and I’m sure Elway, Paton, coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterback coach Mike Shula agree — Fangio seems to prefer Teddy Bridgewater. Does one man’s opinion supersede four?
Either quarterback, and probably both will play this season, and a premium defense should be able to win nine games with seven hassle-free and Hasselhoff-like opponents and three division home games.
It’s been suggested often lately that the Broncos have to emerge from September with a 2-1 mark in games in New Jersey against the Giants and Jacksonville vs. the Jaguars, and in the home opener with the Jets. No. Only 3-0 is acceptable — especially considering the last three games of the season after Christmas — in Las Vegas and Los Angeles (Chargers) and the finale at home vs. the Chiefs.
Fangio is in deep stuff if the Broncos don’t beat the lousy Giants and Jaguars and win at home against the Jets, the Raiders, the Washington Football Team, the Eagles, the Chargers, the Lions (this year’s bonus 17th game) and the Bengals.
That’s a divine nine for the coach.
The Broncos and likely will lose on the road at Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Vegas and L.A., and in Denver vs. the Ravens and the Chiefs.
That’s eight down.
For Vic Fangio this season, it’s 50-50.