ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Decades before joining the Broncos’ staff, Vic Fangio and Mike Munchak grew up just miles apart in Eastern Pennsylvania.
At Dunmore High School, Fangio played safety as a student before returning a few years later in 1979 to begin his coaching career. Munchak, meanwhile, played his high school football in Scranton before embarking on a Pro Football Hall of Fame playing career.
But while they grew up just towns apart, the two didn’t meet until the mid 1980s.
“We didn’t know each other at that time, but I think just watching what he did, starting from high school and coaching high school football to being a head coach in the NFL is an awesome trip,” Munchak said. “To me, he should have been a head coach long, long ago.
“I remember my dad telling me when we were playing the Saints when I was with the Oilers, he said, ‘Go over and say hello to the coach, he’s from Dunmore.’ That’s the first time I think we met. I went over to him after the game.”
Munchak said he doesn’t know if Fangio remembers that meeting — but he does know that despite their limited interaction, he’s always respected the man who is the Broncos’ new head coach. And that led to Munchak accepting a role as the Broncos’ offensive line coach.
“We always knew of each other but never really had the chance to work together,” Munchak said. “That just made it just another huge plus for me [to take the job] because I know what a great guy he is, I know what a great coach he is and I know what a great job he’s going to do here. If I can help in any way — probably the best way I can help him is to have my guys playing really well. I think that’s all he’s caring about right now so that’s my goal: just worry about my area and that will help his area.”
Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell should know best of any of the new assistants about Fangio’s defensive expertise. The Broncos’ new defensive coordinator has spent the last eight years working alongside Fangio, and the two have the results to prove that they're among the best at their craft.
In their eight years in San Francisco and Chicago, Fangio and Donatell led some of the league’s best defenses. During the 2018 season, they helped the Bears post the best scoring defense in the league.
Fangio will try to maintain that success in 2019 as a head coach.
“This is a long-time thing that he’s deserved for a long time,” Donatell said. “He has a great ability to frame problems, and his ability to adjust — that’s where he separates from the competition. There are going to be all kinds of new problems coming down the road and he can frame it and he can get our staff and our players directed on fixing it.”
Special Teams Coordinator Tom McMahon, who accepted an offer from Fangio to stay on the Broncos’ coaching staff, will see Fangio’s problem-solving strategy for the first time. He hasn’t before worked with the long-time defensive coordinator, but McMahon seems impressed with the Broncos’ new head coach.
“The number one trait that I’ve noticed in being with him for this last week is he has a football presence,” McMahon said. “You feel people that are very knowledgeable in their craft. Everybody can speak, but when you can feel it, then you know you have something special.
“You can feel his football presence.”