Cowboys DC Rumored As Potential Fangio Replacement

Dan Quinn

Getty Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is rumored as a possible replacement for Vic Fangio in Denver. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The 2021 season is nearly in the rearview for the Denver Broncos, and some tough decisions lie ahead for the franchise.

Perhaps number one on the list concerns the future of head coach Vic Fangio. While it’s likely he’ll finish out the season at this point, Fangio’s outlook moving forward is more uncertain. The Broncos have an outside shot at making the postseason still, which may be the only thing keeping Fangio on the Denver sidelines for now.

With Fangio sitting firmly on the hot seat, the Broncos may turn their attention toward the NFC East and one of the more highly touted head coaching options out there as a replacement.

On the Pro Football Weekly podcast, NFL draft analyst and insider Tony Pauline said Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is a name he’s hearing tied to the Denver Broncos job if they decided to move on from Fangio.

“Dan Quinn – who worked with George Paton years ago in Miami, so they have a relationship working together – is the name that right now is being bandied about as a potential replacement for Fangio if Fangio is in fact fired at the end of the season,” Pauline said.

Reportedly on the Broncos’ short-list of head coaching candidates, Quinn’s name has already surfaced in connection with the Broncos’ job.

Quinn recently declined an interview for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach opening to focus on the Cowboys, per The Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins. Furthering that notion was a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero stating that Quinn would wait until the end of the regular season before agreeing to any interviews.

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Fangio is Well-Liked But Must Make “Compelling Case” To Keep His Job

Pauline prefaced his report on the Broncos’ interest in Quinn by saying things could change for Fangio if the Broncos’ unlikely playoff fortunes also changed.

“I think first we have to say that if Denver somehow gets into, squeaks into the playoffs – they are not going to fire Fangio,” Pauline said. “They are 7-8 right now and have the Chargers and Chiefs left on their schedule, so it is an uphill battle.”

Vic Fangio

GettyDenver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio remains firmly on the hot seat as the 2021 season nears its end. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

According to Pauline, Fangio is well-liked within the organization, and there are no issues there when it comes to Fangio’s relationship with Broncos GM Paton. When Paton has been available to be asked about Fangio, he’s said all of the right things, lending more credence to the idea that the two are on good terms.

However, as Pauline continued, if the Broncos miss the playoffs for a sixth-straight season, their third-straight under Fangio, a change at head coach is inevitable.

“First thing I’m told is, there’s no animus. There’s no dislike between Paton and Fangio,” said Pauline. “But Fangio is a coach that Paton inherited. So if they don’t make the playoffs, they go 7-10, they’re going to move on.”

The Broncos may genuinely like Fangio and want him to return and finish the final year of a four-year contract. Though with the circumstances facing the Broncos, Fangio is on shaky ground, and all bets are off.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that despite the good vibes with the team and front office, Fangio would have to make a ‘compelling case’ to keep his job in Denver.

“An incredible defensive mind with a great relationship with the front office and players, Fangio has the respect of the building,” Rapoport wrote. “GM George Paton, who will make the final call on Fangio, has built a strong relationship with him and has a lot of respect for Fangio as a coach. But history does not speak well on a coach heading into his fourth year without making the playoffs. It appears Fangio would have to make a compelling case to stay — with the way the team finishes the year and his plans to fix the issues plaguing Denver, especially its struggling offense — to ensure he gets a chance for a fourth season.”

Fangio Headed to AFC South?

Pauline also dropped a nugget about Fangio’s possible future should the Broncos decide to fire him, saying the defensive guru may head to the AFC South, but not as a head coach.

According to Pauline, the Jacksonville Jaguars have eyes on Fangio to fill their defensive coordinator position, countering that move with a head coaching hire specializing in working with young quarterbacks to help mold Trevor Lawrence.

“If the Denver Broncos fire Vic Fangio, they want to bring Fangio in as their defensive coordinator because they feel they’ve got a lot of underachieving talent on defense that Fangio can light a fire underneath and get to play up to their level of ability,” Pauline said.

The 63-year-old Fangio was hired as head coach by the Broncos in 2019, and heading into Week 17; he’s compiled a 19-28 record over three seasons in Denver. Coaching in the NFL since 1986, Fangio has plenty of experience as a defensive coordinator. According to Pro Football Reference, Fangio led defenses for the Carolina Panthers (1995-1998), Indianapolis Colts (1999-2001), Houston Texans (2002-2005), San Francisco 49ers (2011-2014), and Chicago Bears (2015-2018).

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