As the NFL offseason progresses and teams race to fill their head coaching vacancies, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has been getting a lot of buzz. He’s reportedly the front-runner to land the Houston Texans job and he’s conducted multiple interviews across the league.
There’s a chance he does land one of these head coaching gigs. Gannon is a smart guy and there’s no doubt he’s interviewed well with these teams. It’s unlikely that the team will fire him, but he could be gone regardless.
If Gannon does end up leaving, there’s really only one choice to fill his vacancy. Former Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is one of the best defensive minds in football and given the fact that he’s 65 years old, he could be up for a defensive coordinator gig rather than another shot at being a head coach.
There isn’t a defensive coordinator on the open market with a better resume than Fangio. He was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator during the Jim Harbaugh era, leading one of the best defensive units of the decade during his time there. In each of his four seasons as the team’s defensive coordinator, San Fran was top-5 in total yards allowed. In three out of his four years, they were top-10 in takeaways. And in his first three seasons, San Fran’s defense ranked inside the top-3 in points allowed.
He then left to coordinate Chicago’s defense in 2015, where he once again revitalized a sleeping giant. His Bears defense peaked in 2018 when they were first in nearly every major defensive metric. They ranked inside the top-5 in total yards allowed, points allowed, takeaways, rushing yards allowed, and rushing yards per attempt.
Fangio’s unbelievable 2018 campaign landed him the head coaching job in Denver, where his defense performed admirably, but was often let down by poor offensive output. Now he’s available again, and the Eagles could come calling.
Fangio’s scheme is often tailored towards his personnel. He’s used 3-4 fronts as well as four-man fronts throughout his years. He’s adaptable, which is a key trait for any defensive coordinator. Fangio isn’t a heavy blitzer, which some Eagles fans won’t like to hear, but he puts his pass rushers in great positions to get after the quarterback.
Fangio is also a master of disguising coverages. Pre-snap looks will show a lot of two-deep safety looks in Fangio’s defense, but he often uses this as a template to shift into something else based on what the offense is showing him. He mixes zone concepts with man coverage when he needs to, but he always finds way to put his secondary players in positions to make plays on the ball.
Here’s a good example of how Fangio interchanges his secondary post-snap to cause issues for the offense:
Regardless of who the Eagles bring in as their new defensive coordinator, or if Gannon sticks around, the personnel is the only thing that will make the defense go. Fangio is a defensive expert, but he’ll need a bevy of players to truly get the most out of his scheme.
Still, he would be an upgrade over Gannon, even though I believe Gannon is better than some fans give him credit for. Fangio’s scheme is tried and true. With the right personnel, a Vic Fangio led defense will cause issues for any offense they face.