DENVER • Judge Vic Fangio presides by the rules of common sense.
In this new era of Broncos football, where suddenly logic and rational thought prevails, there’s no more thumping, earsplitting, headaching music during the dog days of training camp — or any days.
“Noise, by definition, sounds annoying. Music sounds nice,” Fangio said. “So if we have to deal with noise (in games) let’s deal with noise (not music).”
And these practice uniforms. They look familiar. Are they the same ones you wear on Sundays?
“We want to make it as game-like as we can. That’s why we practice with (game uniforms).”
Mike Shanahan, who brought two Super Bowl trophies here, lives 11.2 miles from Broncos headquarters — but had not attended a Broncos practice in over a decade. Saturday morning, Shanny returned. Shanahan observed practice alongside John Elway, Joe Ellis and yes, Fangio.
“Mike’s got a big part in the rich history of this franchise,” said Fangio, who personally extended a open invitation to Shanahan. “He’s welcome to come here any time he wants.”
Rejoice! Common sense has replaced nonsense at Broncos training camp. Three days into camp, I say this with utter confidence: Fangio is the best thing to happen to the Broncos since Super Bowl 50 — Feb. 7, 2016.
The good people dishing up homemade gnocchi at Ragnacci’s Family Restaurant in Dunmore, Pa., where Fangio used to tend bar, weren’t pulling an Aqib Talib and yanking our chains.
Victor John Fangio is the right man at the right time for the Broncos. Right on.
Sadly, the Broncos have not yet figured out the quarterback position. Saturday morning under bluebird skies, with slim pickens of 400-ish Broncos diehards scattered across the grassy berm, the four quarterbacks all threw bad interceptions (except for Drew Lock). Will Parks picked one, as did Josey Jewell. Safety Justin Simmons got two. Fangio has final say on most other matters. Like a judge, the 60-year-old will be confirmed as half the coach-QB combo the Broncos have been searching for.
Since Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are not allowed to toss quarterbacks to the turf, the best part of Broncos camp now comes afterward, when Fangio combines the news of the day with 32 seasons of NFL wisdom and wit. What results is often something that makes sense in all walks of life, not only football.
“Peer pressure is better than coaching pressure,” Fangio said.
”Scheme is secondary, fundamentals primary,” he said.
Or, to explain his everyday gray sweatshirt in 90-degree heat: “Half the reason I got this on is to hide my gut.”
Fangio is a coach magnet. Since he’s been here, Fangio’s hung with Shanahan, Rockies skipper Bud Black and 130 high school coaches from around Colorado, Haxtun to Cherry Creek. Expect ex-Colts coach Jim Mora any day now.
Playoffs?!? For the Broncos to invite the idea, Fangio must be a Coach of the Year candidate.
(One quibble: Fangio had promised he was a good luck charm for the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, who won World Series with him in town. “I’d be happy if I were them (the Rockies),” Fangio said in January. Strike one, coach.) Saturday, it was Atlanta Hawks (basketball) coach Lloyd Pierce who swung through practice and joined staff meetings and film work inside Fangio’s office, UCHealth Training Center.
“Friend of mine,” Fangio said.
Coaches only spend Saturdays at practice for a different sport if they want to learn something. It’s so nice these days to attend Broncos camp and leave educated, rather than dumbed down.
Fangio often has been described as old-school. It’s inaccurate. He’s common sense school.
“If you notice here, most of the drills, coaches are off to the side. I don’t want them screaming and hollering instructions at players,” he said after the Broncos wrapped up Day 3 of his first camp. “In the game they’re on their own. We can’t help them in the game, so don’t be helping them in practice. So your leaders have to come from those 11 guys who are on the field.”
Hiring Fangio has rejuvenated the Broncos and killed the music.
“I don’t like to have to yell to communicate to a player that’s standing as close as you are,” Fangio said. “That makes no sense.”
All the rest does. Shanahan returning to Dove Valley makes the most sense. The two sides ditched their pride. For almost 2 hours, before he left the practice field with wife Peggy at 11:38 a.m., Shanahan stood 25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, arms crossed, eyes on the ball. Why it took so long — for a franchise that’s struggled on offense, and a coach without a gig — should be under federal investigation.
The pressure in Year 1 is not on Fangio, the first-time head coach. Gift him Von, Chubb, Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe and a fleet of able safeties, Fangio’s ‘D’ will be A-OK. The pressure’s on Rich Scangarello, the first-time ‘O’ coordinator. “Scang” has his work cut out.
Good news: Shanahan and Scangarello are familiar from Kyle Shanahan’s stops in Atlanta and San Francisco, and the Broncos consulted with Mike Shanahan about Scangarello, a team source said. Shanny must’ve said nice things about and approved of “Scang.” They hired him.
“I was glad he was here,” Fangio said of Mike Shanahan, who went 138-86 before he was fired in 2008. “I think it’s good he’s here.”
It’s good Fangio’s here, music blasting through practice or not. For the record his choice of tunes would be Earth, Wind and Fire or Michael Jackson, the old stuff. Oldies but goodies.