ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As a new head coach in 2018, Matt Nagy made meeting with Vic Fangio his first priority. In setting up his coaching staff, Nagy made sure to retain Fangio and, in the process, he retained the kind of coach he needed not only to have one of the best defenses in the league, but also to have a reliable confidant with decades of experience by his side.
That move proved to be a wise one, as Fangio guided the Bears defense to become one of the league’s best as Nagy, who has an offensive-minded background, helped develop the other side of the ball.
“The thing is when you're a first-year head coach, you come in to this and you've never been a head coach before, you're looking for guys that have experience, guys that you trust, guys that you have gone against before,” Nagy said on a conference call with Denver media Wednesday, “and he was exactly that. When I got hired, he was the first discussion [and the first] move that I made was to meet with him. So, you meet with him as a person and Vic in some ways is very introverted, but in other ways he is not. You have to know who he is and how he works, and I think once you get that part, then you'll see he's a very, very, very loyal human being that really has had a lot of success in this league.”
As the two prepare for their first meeting as head coaches, and as Fangio faces his former team, it’s clear this won’t be any sort of grudge match. In fact, Nagy views Fangio in the same light as his mentor, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
“Yeah, we always reference Coach Reid as a beautiful mind on offense, and I think you can easily say on defense that Vic has a beautiful mind. … He is a guy that is very, very, very intelligent football-wise. He understands the game really well. There's a lot of guys that are that way, but then when you can teach it to the kids or teach it to the players that it makes sense to them so that they can play fast — I think that is probably one his biggest strengths.”
However, Fangio said later at his press conference that he’s not sure he’d agree with Nagy’s assessment of him as an introvert.
“No,” Fangio said. “I’m just at times calculated with what I say. I take in all the information and wait for the facts, rather than dive into a filibuster debate.”
What the two did agree on, though, is that their familiarity with one another won’t be much of a factor in Sunday’s game.
“It’s not a whole lot, really,” Fangio said. “I was only there with them one year in their current offensive system. So I don’t think it’s a tremendous advantage, other than knowing the players.”
A DANGEROUS DUO
Given his background coaching on the offensive side, Nagy says he’s well aware of how big the challenge will be for his team to be ready for Bradley Chubb and Von Miller — especially Miller, considering Nagy coached against the Broncos as the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach from 2013-15 and their offensive coordinator from 2016-17.
“You have to know where they’re at,” Nagy said. “You have to know and that's no secret. … I have so much respect for both of them. Looking at Von, I’ve been going against Von for — it feels like forever — between Kansas City and here. He has such a unique style to the way that he rushes the passer. The one thing with him is that I just see how good he is in the run game, too. He's a game-wrecker. He can change the course of a game in one play and he does it again and again and again, so you’ve got to know where he's at.
“As far as Bradley Chubb, again [I was] very impressed with him coming out of North Carolina State with just [his] play. I watched a lot of film on him and I think that you could see why he's where he's at right now. He's another guy that [with] one year of experience last year, I think right now just watching him and seeing where he's at in the preseason, he’s playing a lot faster. He's playing with a lot more confidence. And you have a guy like Von Miller that's going to take some attention away from you, and then you're going to have a chance to make plays. And yeah, they didn't make any as far as, statistically, with sacks [on Monday], but that doesn't mean anything because they can have one game where they each have four sacks. They are really, really good players.”