After serving as the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator in 2023, Vic Fangio returns to his home state to take over the same position with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team he grew up rooting for as a young boy in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. Fangio brings a wealth of NFL experience and success and the added benefit of knowing the building, the coaching staff, and many of the players as they endeavor to build the defense to the level it played at in 2022.
"Vic's reputation obviously speaks for itself," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "He's a brilliant defensive mind who has coached at a very high level in this league for many years. In my time spent with Vic, I've seen firsthand what makes him such a great coach – tremendous knowledge of the game, passion, and work ethic. I'm excited for our coaches and players to be able to learn from him and see it for themselves."
A veteran of more than 40 years of coaching, Fangio began in the NFL in 1986 as a linebackers coach with New Orleans. He has been a defensive coordinator with Carolina, Indianapolis, Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami. Fangio was Denver's head coach from 2019-21.
The NFL's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2018 when he was with the Bears, Fangio – dubbed an "evil genius" by edge rusher Khalil Mack, who played for Fangio in Chicago – worked as a defensive consultant during the Eagles' run to Super Bowl LVII in 2022 before joining the Dolphins.
Along with being with the team in 2022, Fangio boasts plenty of local connections to the city and surrounding areas. Fangio began his coaching career as a defensive assistant for the now-defunct Philadelphia Stars, winning a USFL Championship in 1984 before the team relocated to Baltimore. The East Stroudsburg University graduate is also an avid Philadelphia sports fan.
"I was a die-hard Phillies fan and Eagles fan growing up and got my first job in pro football there back in the USFL with the Philadelphia Stars," said Fangio during a mid-week press conference before the Dolphins and Eagles played in Week 7 this season. "And so, Philly is a special place to me."
Fangio, showing he is still at the top of his game and among the most astute defensive minds in the NFL, improved Miami's defensive fortunes in the 2023 campaign, finishing 10th in yards allowed (18th in 2022) and ninth in yards allowed per play (14th in 2022). The Dolphins also finished third in the NFL in sacks (56) and tied for eighth in forced turnovers (27).
A litany of injuries doomed Miami, including the loss of their entire depth chart of edge rushers late in the season and in the Wild Card Playoff loss at Kansas City. Said former New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick about Fangio: "I think Vic's one of the best defensive coaches in the league. He has his style, defensive philosophy, and system – and he's had a lot of success with them."
Said cornerback Chris Harris, Jr, who played for Fangio in Denver in 2019, of his defensive philosophy: "It's versatile. He has a wide variety of defenses. … You have to be smart to know how to play your spot, play your zone, play your position. I think that's why I've always liked it. It has so much. He has a lot of different looks he can bring."
Fangio has spawned a "Fangio Tree" of defensive coaches throughout the league who have worked for him, learned from him, and then taken his philosophy and used it with success.
There are very few defensive coaches in NFL history who have accomplished what Fangio has, and who have earned the respect of some of the all-time great coaches.
"You've got to be alert for everything," said two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan. "When you've been in the league as long as Vic has, he's taking a look at your personnel, he's taking a look at your scheme, he's taking a look at your injuries, and he's going to try to take away what you do best. He's going to try to make you beat yourself. He's not going to beat himself. He's going to try to put you in a situation that he feels you're uncomfortable with both in the running game and the passing game."