Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was readying himself for a mammoth AFC West showdown against Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders. That was Monday.
Just two days removed, Gruden is out of the league altogether after resigning from his post as the Raiders head coach. After a series of emails sent by the one-time Super Bowl winning coach were made public knowledge in a New York Times article, ‘Chucky,’ as he’s affectionately known, was on borrowed time.
Gruden Slammed by Vic
Monday night it was announced by ESPN insider Adam Schefter, Gruden had left Las Vegas. In his place steps Rich Bisaccia, former special teams coordinator, whose first important will be defensive mastermind, Vic Fangio. The third-year Broncos coach spoke to reporters about his thoughts on to Gruden’s emails during his October 13 press conference. It’s fair to say Fangio wasn’t sheepish in his response.
“I just think there’s no place in the world, let alone our league, for the opinions that were expressed, and especially the words used to express those opinions,” Fangio said. “[The organization and I] are definitely against that. It was a bad situation.”
One wonders how the Raiders will shape up without their now-maligned former offensive play-caller. Fangio though isn’t under any illusions as to how Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr and company will operate.
“Their offense, I’m sure, won’t change as far as schematically what they’re doing,” Fangio said. “Obviously, the new play caller will maybe zero in on some other stuff that maybe they haven’t used as much or majored in. They have a lot of personnel groups. It’ll be the same offense, but how it’s called and how its utilized will be different.”
Waller and Offensive Efficiency Keys to Victory
What won’t have changed is the threat posed by 2020 Pro Bowl tight end, Darren Waller. The 29-year-old has had two 100-yard games against the Broncos in his last three tries, most recently going for 117 yards and a touchdown from nine catches. Vic Fangio must know stopping Waller is a key to the Broncos’ first victory of the Raiders since December 2019.
“He’s a wide receiver in a tight end body,” Fangio said of Waller. “He’s big enough to play tight end, do the blocking that they asked him to do, and be a regular tight end. He’s talented enough and fast enough to run ride receiver routes. He’s a special talent, and one of the special players in this league.”
It’s not just Waller the Broncos need to worry about. If they are to stop their slump and end Week 6 with a win, the offense will need to overcome their horrific third down conversion percentage.
“Offensively — we’ve had too many third-and-longs, but you have to be able to convert some of those,” Fangio said. “Lately, we haven’t been able to do that. We did it the first few weeks. I think we were 50% on third-and-seven plus during the first few weeks, but last two weeks, not so. I don’t know if we’ve gotten any or gotten one. We have to get more manageable third downs, and no matter what third down we’re in, we have to go convert.”
Follow Patrick Djordjevic on Twitter: @Patdjordjevic