New Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio fielded more questions during his 10-plus minute teleconference Wednesday with local reporters on his golf game than he did queries regarding his Week 2 reunion vs. his former team, the Chicago Bears.
That probably says as much as anything about the way Fangio endeared himself to the media during his four years in Chicago, when he took the NFL's 31st-ranked defense in points allowed the year prior to his arrival to football's very best last season, finally propelling a football lifer to the top of his profession for the first time at the age of 61.
It'd be understandable, then, for Fangio to have some extra sentiments as he reviews the still-dominant play of a Bears 'D' that returned 10-of-12 starters from Week 1. Did Fangio feel a bit like a parent watching his kids succeed?
"I can’t consider it that, I’m no longer there. It’s the Bears’ defense, not mine," said Fangio, deflecting as usual. "It wasn’t ... it was the Bears defense when I was there. But I have a lot of fondness and good memories of being with those players. I really liked being around them on a daily basis. And that’s something that I’ll never forget and I appreciate that situation was there for me."
Not counting the inevitable Khalil Mack-Von Miller comparison questions, Fangio was asked specifically about three Bears defenders — Leonard Floyd, Eddie Jackson and Danny Trevathan, all of whom have credited their old coordinator a lot for where they are today — and offered tremendous responses.
Does Fangio miss not getting the seemingly weekly questions regarding Floyd's sack total?
"Yeah, I told you guys time and time again that he's a really good player," Fangio said after a chuckle. "He's had some injuries that slowed him down early in his career. But they knew what they were doing when they gave him that fifth-year option. He's a hell of a football player, and he's going to continue to have a hell of a career, and he'll just keep getting better and better."
Rest assured, Fangio's new offensive coordinator, Rich Scangarello, will have his hands full this week preparing for Floyd, coming off an electrifying Week 1, in addition to Mack.
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And new Broncos QB Joe Flacco is likely to be as concerned with Jackson as anyone in Chicago's thieving secondary. When did Fangio first realize the former fourth-rounder-turned-first-team All Pro in Jackson was special?
"Very early," Fangio recalled. "... I don’t know, definitely within the first week, maybe three days or so that I said to [secondary coach] Ed Donatell, 'This guy’s really going to be good.' And Ed kind of got a little taken back. ‘Well, how can you tell already? Ya know? Jeez, you want to crown him or something.’ I said, ‘I can just tell. This guy’s got it.’
"Just his total instincts and feel for the game. His body movement. The way he just reacted to things and saw things. He saw them quicker than most and reacted quicker than most. And then he had the talent to take advantage of those reactions."
These are precisely the type of detailed analyses, the candor and respectful interaction that made Fangio so appreciated among those that covered him. Fortunately, Matt Nagy has followed suit, but it was tough not getting a bit nostalgic Wednesday in visiting with Vic.
Trevathan's reunion in Denver will obviously carry more significance than solely seeing his old coordinator again. He, of course, was the leading tackler on the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl 50 championship team. Emotions will be high because, well, that's Trevathan's personality.
"Danny’s a very positively emotional guy. He’s totally into the team. He wants the team to do well. He wants to be a leader, and he is just because of the way he plays and his emotional fire and the intensity with which he plays," Fangio said. "He’s a contagious guy in that regard besides being a hell of a football player. So he’s really been a nice pick-up for the Bears."
And even in a town where defensive coordinators are held in higher regard than most, and whose team went to the playoffs only once during his tenure and compiled a combined 26-39 mark, it's hard to describe how valuable a pick-up Fangio was by the Bears.