ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Von Miller did his homework.
When he heard Vic Fangio would be the Broncos’ next head coach, Miller combed through his digital rolodex and talked with some of the most prominent players to have received wisdom from the coaching veteran: Richard Sherman (Stanford, 2010), Aldon Smith (49ers, 2011-14) and Khalil Mack (Bears, 2018).
Like any Broncos player, he wanted to know more about the man who would be leading him and his team.
The response he got was overwhelming.
“Just about everybody has raved about Coach Fangio,” Miller said.
Miller saw for himself just why they all felt that way when he took in Fangio’s introductory press conference on Thursday.
Speaking from what will be his lectern in the team meeting room, Fangio outlined his coaching philosophy, the interview that wowed the Broncos brass and his own personal history. Then, briefly, Miller found himself the subject of one question, as Fangio described his vision for the star linebacker that sat in the corner of the auditorium with a handful of his teammates.
“Obviously, we have, starting off, two good players on the outside,” Fangio said. “Von Miller can be one of the rare players in this league, much like Khalil is. I’m looking forward to working with both of them. Bradley [Chubb] is a guy that we had high grades on, also, in Chicago last year. I’m aware that he had a good season this year. That’s my position of expertise, when I’m coaching a position. And those guys are going to get coached by their position coach, but they’re going to get a little extra from me, too. And we’re going to try to take them both to bigger and better levels.
“And I think Von Miller can play even better than he’s played in his career.”
Then, the topic of conversation changed abruptly, as Fangio fielded a question about his 92-year-old mother.
But Miller received the message, loud and clear. And he didn’t just hear it; he was thrilled by it.
“This is my third head-coach[ing change], and I’ve never been to a press conference,” Miller said. “But it was something special about Coach Fangio that I had to come meet him in person. I had to come be around the energy and witness it.
“I’m excited about it. He’s going to be a great coach for us, lead us and give us the great attitude. And this is all the stuff I’m getting back from guys that have been around him and the guys that love him. I’m excited and I’m excited to get back to work.”
If you need any proof of what Fangio can do with an All-Pro pass-rusher, just look at Mack. After the fifth-year edge rusher was traded to Chicago just before the season started, Mack had a career year. He stuffed the stat sheet with 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four passes defensed one interception for a touchdown and 47 total tackles.
In turn, Mack called Fangio an “evil genius.”
To have a similar impact with Miller, who had 14.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three passes defensed, an interception and 48 total tackles in 2018, would be impressive — and Miller is ready for that challenge.
“I hate feeling like I could’ve done more,” Miller said the day after the 2018 season ended, “but that’s definitely the truth.”
Now, Miller feels he might be able to take that step toward erasing that regret in 2019 and beyond.
“He’s a great coach and I’m looking forward to getting great coaching,” Miller said. “Coach me, Coach. Coach me.”
And Miller, for his part, isn’t just excited for what Fangio’s arrival may mean for his own career.
“We’ve got a great defense over here, and it’s only going to be 10 times better with Coach Fangio,” Miller said. “Chubb is going to be a totally different monster [in] Year 2. We already saw what he can do in Year 1, and he’s going to be 10 times better [in] Year 2, along with all the other rookies we had as well.”
Fangio’s impact certainly won’t end with Miller, and that’s why Miller isn’t the only Broncos defender who is excited.
“Hey, that’s even scarier,” nose tackle Shelby Harris said, “because if you can make him better, imagine what he can do for everyone else.”