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Vic Fangio looks to finish historic career with Eagles

Vic Fangio
Vic Fangio

Vic Fangio started his professional coaching career in Philadelphia 40 years ago. If the Eagles' new defensive coordinator has his way, he'll end it as well in the City of Brotherly Love.

Fangio embarks on his 38th NFL season and 21st as a defensive coordinator in 2024 after being hired by the Eagles this offseason. He was the defensive assistant for the USFL's Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars in 1984-85, helping the team win back-to-back championships before the league folded in 1986.

He returned to Philadelphia in a consulting role during the team's 2022 run to the Super Bowl, working with the offensive coaches as the Eagles nearly came away with the ultimate prize in Super Bowl LVII.

"It's a good thrill to come back 40 years later and hopefully finish it out here," Fangio said during his introductory press conference on Thursday.

Fangio is not just returning to a special place in his coaching career. He is coming home. The Dunmore, Pennsylvania native grew up cheering for all of the Philly sports teams, especially the Eagles and Phillies. His 97-year-old mother, Alice, resides two hours north of the city, while his kids are two hours south of Philadelphia, making the decision to return to Philadelphia an easy one.

In between his consulting stint with the Eagles and taking on the defensive coordinator duties, Fangio spent the 2023 season as the Dolphins' defensive coordinator. Miami set franchise records for sacks (56) and defensive touchdowns (4), while earning a trip to the playoffs.

Fangio caught the coaching bug in Dunmore, playing for one of the greatest Pennsylvania prep coaches of all time in the late Jack Henzes Jr., who won 444 games, which at the time of his retirement was second most in state history (now third).

"Coaching in football has more of an impact on the game than baseball does, than most other sports," said Fangio, who takes pride in being a teacher first. "There's no other sport where you huddle up. You're making a call every single time, so you have an important impact."

Including his three seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2019-21, Fangio has had 10 top-10 defensive units in yards allowed and points allowed. There's no secret to his success. He says it starts with good players on the field and good assistants who can communicate the expectations of each play call. His staff in Philadelphia is a mix of coaches he's worked with in the past and experienced tutors who share Fangio's vision.

Will Fangio deploy what worked for him at his previous stops? He's quick to note that his scheme is "versatile" because of the variety of challenges each opposing offense presents weekly. At this point in the offseason program, Fangio is trying to figure out what the players can manage. Early in Training Camp, he will install everything so that if he needs to call upon a certain coverage or front during the season, it won't be the first time that the players are learning it.

While he adapts to the new personnel in Philadelphia, Fangio offered a brief scouting report on several positions and players:

  • On first-round pick Quinyon Mitchell: "He's obviously got good movement. He's got good size for a corner. He's going to have to adapt to the NFL game, covering NFL receivers, NFL schemes in the passing game. There's a lot to learn, but we think he's the right guy, emotionally and mentally, to do that. And, hopefully, he'll play dividends quickly rather than later. But he's going to be one of the many competing."
  • On edge rusher Bryce Huff: "He's been a good pass rusher for the Jets, playing in somewhat of a part-time role. Hopefully, we can make him proficient enough to where he plays more, meaning his run play and on the occasion or two that we might want to drop him."
  • On second-year defensive tackle Jalen Carter: "I think he's talented enough that no matter what we do with him, we'll be maximizing him. He's got to get in great shape, which I think he's off to a great start here, so we can play him a lot."
  • On 2022 first-round pick Jordan Davis: "He's heading into his third year. I think he's off to a good start this offseason. I don't have anything to compare it to not having been here his first two years, but I think he's working good. I think he's rounding into good shape. It's up to us to give him the opportunity and platform to get in good shape and then rely on him when he leaves here in that dead time between the offseason and camp, but from what I've seen so far, very encouraging."
  • On the inside linebacker group: "We've got (Zack) Baun here, who's played a little bit of inside linebacker in New Orleans. He really didn't play a whole lot of defense there, but he was inside some, more outside. We think he can play inside and I have not seen anything so far that says otherwise.

"Obviously, we got Devin (White) here from Tampa. You guys are well aware of him. He had a great career going. Had a down year last year for whatever reason. We hope to get him back to where he was.

"Nakobe's (Dean) on the mend from last year. (Jeremiah) Trotter's got to come in and join the fray and let's see what he has. And (Oren) Burks too. He's been a veteran backup. He's in the hunt. We don't have anybody established per se as an Eagle, but we've got guys to work with and we're happy with the group so far."

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