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Vic Fangio expects Eagles to be last stop in coaching career, DC admits Philadelphia was where he wanted to be

Forty years ago, Vic Fangio was coaching in Veterans Stadium with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. Not even Fangio could have foreseen a professional coaching career that spanned 40 years that involved being a defensive coordinator for seven teams and working his way up to a head-coaching position with the Denver Broncos.

Fangio wouldn’t have lasted in the NFL this long if he didn’t adjust to the times. For a career that started as a defensive assistant with the Stars, it all comes full circle. 

“I thought it would be cool to hopefully end it here,” Fangio said at his first press conference since becoming defensive coordintaor of the Philadelphia Eagles. “So, 40 years later, here I am.”

Fangio does intend to end his career with the Eagles, his seventh stop as a defensive coordinator in a league were he earned his first job as a linebackers coach as a 28-year-old with the New Orleans Saints in 1986. After grooming Hall of Famers Rickey Jackson and Sam Mills, Fangio earned his first defensive coordinator job with the expansion Carolina Panthers in 1995. 

Well respected around the league, and the architect of the defensive philosophy many teams in the league are emulating, things haven’t changed much for Fangio since returning to Philadelphia.              

“One of the first things I’ve done, several times, I still go to the Philadium down on Packer [Avenue] for my meals, just like I did way back then,” Fangio said. “Just to come back, my kids live two hours south of here. My mother, who’s 97, lives two hours north of here. So, a lot of family considerations.

“I was a big Philly fan growing up in all sports. It was a thrill for me to go to work every day at Veterans Stadium 40 years ago because I used to go to games there all the time. And now it’s a good thrill to come back 40 years later and hopefully finish it out here.”

A Dunmore, Pennsylvania, native, the 65-year-old Fangio has built a reputation as one of the brilliant defensive minds in today’s NFL. His defenses have finished in the top 10 in points allowed eight times and in the top 10 in yards allowed 10 times. When Fangio was the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014, his defenses never finished outside the top 10 in points or yards allowed. 

“Good players. And I’m not trying to be a wise guy with that,” Fangio said when asked about the important elements of his defense. “We have a system that is versatile, we like to think. It needs to be versatile because every week you’re facing different strengths of an offense, different schemes. 

“You have to have a versatile system for the offenses today in the NFL. What we’ll eventually do is learn what our guys are best at.”

Fangio had the opportunity to join the Eagles after the 2022 season, but the timing didn’t mix. He was in the building during preparation for Super Bowl LVII, helping the offense get a good look at the defense they were going to face in the Kansas City Chiefs (the Eagles offense scored 35 points, most by a losing team in the Super Bowl). Fangio accepted an offer to become the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator prior to Jonathan Gannon accepting the Arizona Cardinals head-coaching job, which was after the Super Bowl LVII loss. 

After the Dolphins finished 22nd in points allowed and 10th in yards allowed, the Eagles had a defensive coordinator opening. Sean Desai was fired and the Eagles allowed Matt Patricia’s contract to expire. 

Fangio saw an opportunity to head to Philadelphia, just a year later than he originally thought. 

“I think that’s a fair assumption,” Fangio said. “Anything we do, whether there, here, or anywhere else I’ve been, is what we think is the best for the team and best for the defense, specifically, to stop somebody. Wherever that falls, that’s where it falls.”

If Fangio has it his way, he’ll finish a distinguished coaching career with the Eagles. Philadelphia is where Fangio got his start, and where he wants to end on his terms. 

“I would think so,” Fangio said. “But as we all know in this business, nothing’s guaranteed.”

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Author: Jeff Kerr
May 9, 2024 | 5:05 pm

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