DENVER • Well, would you look at that. The Super Bowl was won by a 60-something coach who’s taught defense for longer than the new wave of offensive masterminds has been alive.
It’s been a month since the Broncos hired Vic Fangio. How old is he again, and which side of the ball does he coach?
“I think it’s not about the glitz and glamour and what somebody does on the offensive side,” John Elway said of Fangio, 61, the longtime defensive coordinator who was named NFL assistant coach of the year during Super Bowl LIII festivities in Atlanta. “I think it’s about getting the foundation right, especially for us. That’s our fit.”
Funny thing happened while NFL teams with coaching vacancies were ravaging Sean McVay’s smartphone contacts for the next 30-something Boy Wonder. By whacking McVay’s Rams around, Patriots sexagenarian Bill Belichick proved again there’s no substitute for experience — and a defensive gameplan that turned the age of offense into the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever.
After watching “Patriots 13, Rams 3” slog along, Super Bowl LIII could’ve used a jolt of corn syrup.
This postseason should embolden all corners of Broncos Country that didn’t give up football as a New Year’s resolution. As Elway and friends hunt high and low for the counter to league MVP Patrick Mahomes in the AFC West, they can be confident that great defense still travels.
Yes, the phrase “Super Bowl” should be banned from the Broncos locker room until they can beat the Jets and 49ers. But isn’t it a tad inspiring to know a proud defense coupled with a seasoned, defense-oriented coach can make the Broncos competitive in the meantime?
The Broncos are breaking in a first-time NFL coordinator on offense and still have Case Keenum at quarterback. That’s not what Super Bowl dreams are made of. Denver’s strength again will be the pass rush of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who combined for 26.5 sacks in a lost season.
“That’s Vic’s specialty, too. That’s where he cut his teeth. That’s his baby,” defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said of the pass rush.
“There will be plenty of room for improvement in that area.”
Somewhere in a cowboy hat and flanked by his personal film crew, Miller must have been smiling. (That’s right. Von has a personal film crew.) And it wasn’t just Belichick doing work on Sunday. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips made Josh McDaniels and the Patriots offense look like they didn’t have a clue.
Shoot, Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic threw more touchdowns over the weekend than Tom Brady and Jared Goff. Maybe next year the Joker can join Phillip Lindsay at the Pro Bowl.
Belichick’s sixth title was preempted by the death of the funny Super Bowl commercial. The outrage culture has driven advertisers away from anything that possibly could offend somebody. Bummer. Instead, we were treated to the Washington Post puffing out its chest on the same day it was revealed the paper covered up for another dirty politician in its own backyard. Is it any wonder why honest consumers don’t take media seriously?
Thanks to a defensive battle that would give Cam Newton nightmares, the Broncos on Sunday had flashbacks to Super Bowl 50. The rest of us were treated to wind-powered beer. Anyone else long for the days of Spuds MacKenzie and “Where’s the beef”?
NFL scoring is still going up — for now. This season showed the second-most points scored since the merger in 1966, outdone only by the 2013 season in which Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning went full scorched earth.
But the demise of defense has been greatly exaggerated. While it’s on Elway to find the right quarterback for the Fangio era, the Broncos hired a veteran coach who’s on the correct side of the ball. Plus, he can’t be worse than the last guy. It’s science, like wind-powered beer.
(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at email@example.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)