So the drama is finally over. He’s not going to Denver; he’s not signing an extension in Philly. He’s OURS. The guys Coach Mike allegedly wanted all along, the guy the entire fanbase invested in when Boyer was released from duty, and some of us even before Boyer left.
Yes, Vic Fangio is a Miami Dolphin and is our Defensive Coordinator, or as some have called him, the Head Coach of the Defense.
Things will look very different. We will likely be transitioning from heavy man coverages to a lot of zone-based play. The pre-snap movement to confuse the offense will likely be replaced by the post-snap movement to confuse the offense. We have likely seen the end of the blitz-heavy packages, and I highly doubt we will put seven men in our own end-zone with the opposition in the red zone! Ahem!
This season will look a lot different defensively, and there is plenty for us to be excited about with this hire. I’ve taken a brief look at 5 Dolphins who stand to benefit from this hire.
Let’s start with the obvious. Bradley Chubb moved over and didn’t have the immediate impact in sacks that people wanted. That said, his presence was clearly felt, with Christian Wilkins enabled to put up his most impressive individual season and Jaelen Phillips having a noticeably bigger impact when lining up opposite #2.
Now Chub will get a full off-season in Miami, will get a full training camp, and will be reunited with his old head coach, with who he played some of his best football since entering the NFL. Fangio’s tendency to set traps is ideal for the likes of Chubb, who will look to use his explosiveness to capitalize on any offensive hesitancy after the snap.
Fangio knows Chubb and will bring a scheme familiarity to our big-ticket pass rusher, with him now more familiar with the locker room and franchise. I predict a big step forward from Bradley Chubb, but that is hardly a revelation.
A man that started the last off-season as Kader KoWHO? Yet now, he’s Darth Kader and earned the respect of all Dolphins fans worldwide. He has earned his roster spot, and by the end of the year, he earned the starter position across from Xavien Howard. The undrafted Rookie is a legitimate member of this defense at a time when Byron Jones has been invisible for a year and likely will be a cut candidate and at a time when Nik Needham will be returning from serious injury, meaning that, baring any major additions, Kohou could well be CB2 at the start of the season.
Now, the man who achieved all that in year one has one of the best defensive minds in the league at his shoulder. He will get guidance to a new level from the guy running the whole thing. As a mobile presence in the defense, he will likely be used a lot in Big Vic’s famous post-snap movement and could build himself into a favorite within this defensive structure. Without being asked to line directly up against the high-talent guys 1-2-1 so often, with the experience of last year and the guidance of the new DC, we could see his mistakes and missteps limited, and Kader develops further into a key defensive piece.
Coming back from a major injury, Jones is someone who we missed awfully at points last season. He was developing a great partnership with Jevon Holland, and they looked likely a duo to lock down our safety roles for years to come. There was a lot to be excited about. The injury was an unwelcome disruption, and we now need him to get back up to speed quickly to reach the heights he had previously shown.
Enter Vic! The new coach has a key philosophy of limiting big plays, which itself leads to strong safety roles and safety production. Whilst it will put pressure on the role, it gives Jones a major role to return to, and as such should get plenty of time and attention from the new coach as he implements his new scheme. That time and attention as he regains himself from injury could be invaluable as he will be rehabbing and building fitness specifically within the new scheme, almost building him up perfectly for the play designs.
Having talked about the post-snap movement and seeing the physical explosiveness and adaptability of Jones in Boyer’s scheme, this could be a match made in heaven. Whilst under Boyer, this was often used through disguised blitzes, Vic will find many alternative ways to use that movement ability, and Jones could come back with a bang.
Tua will have significantly less time with the new man than those previously listed, and his impact will likely be less obvious. But I believe this hire WILL be of benefit to QB1. Fangio has a history of being an HC, working with both sides of the ball, so he will know how to talk to our QB1. Tua’s personality is such that he doesn’t see himself as above people or above advice and will welcome any pearls of wisdom, meaning that the nuggets that Vic does drop will be maximized.
But Tua now lives in a world where his awareness needs to be at the highest level. He can’t keep taking those hits; he needs to read things better and find ways of knowing what defenses are preparing for him, so he can either evade or escape more successfully. Who better to guide him through a defensive trap setting than the guy who sits atop the tree of defensive traps?
Then we see that Tua’s game was elite at times last season, and he made the most of the games and plays where teams gave him room over the middle and between the hash marks. When teams sat off and protected that zone, our QBs looked less effective. Again, who better to give him hints and tips on how to best unpick these zone coverages than the guy who lives within zone-based scheming?
These two won’t spend every single day together, and they won’t likely spend many meetings together compared to personnel who share their respective sides of the ball, but the time they DO spend together and the information they share could prove as valuable as any other influence this year.
The first-year Head Coach relied heavily on his defensive staff to run that side of the ball. Now I am sure that someone with Coach Mike’s obsession with detail, schemes, and human connections will have had much more input on the defensive side of the ball than he is given credit for. But clearly, it is not his area of expertise. There is going to be delegation. We all remember him caught on camera turning to Boyer after a series of defensive penalties to deliver the line, “get it f**king fixed.” He’s not the coach that’s going to get amongst the defensive players as an offensive mind and fix it himself; no, his DC needs to take control.
Well, there is no one better, is there? Coach Mike can take a weight off his shoulders; he can hold coaching meetings with his new DC knowing that he will get honest, upfront, and valuable suggestions from Big Vic. He will also know, he is working with a guy whose football intelligence matches his own, he will be able to say things once, and Vic understands and implement them. Coach Mike can then turn his mind away from the defense, safe in the knowledge that they’re In safe hands, and spend his time better focussing on the offensive side of the ball.
He will also have an experienced head and a quality mind to bounce ideas. To play schematic chess with as they both scheme up new plays, “What if I do this, how will that defense respond” therefore, they can better plan and manipulate their opposition.
Not only will they both be able to maximize their time in charge of their own sides of the ball with ultimate trust in each other abilities, but they will be able to sharpen each other’s minds, decision-making, play design and play calling. We are about to see a step forward in many people, not least our Head Coach himself.
Now obviously, this is an unashamedly, positively biased viewpoint on this appointment. Obviously, there are other players who will benefit, and of course, there will be players that will fall away as they don’t perform or fit the scheme. But in the wake of the long-awaited official announcement, it felt a good time to drop some positivity around some of our key names.
One of which is our new defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio!