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Dolphins land coveted defensive coordinator Vic Fangio – Boston Herald


The Miami Dolphins got their top choice to fill their defensive coordinator vacancy.

Vic Fangio and the Dolphins are in agreement on a deal to bring him to Miami, according to a league source.

The three-year deal with a fourth-year team option, according to the NFL Network, reportedly makes him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive coordinator.

Fangio was a coveted option to lead Miami’s defense for coach Mike McDaniel back when he took the head coach position early last offseason, but previous defensive coordinator Josh Boyer was retained for the 2022 season and then fired Jan. 19.

Fangio, 64, beat out a list of candidates that also included Seattle Seahawks associate head coach/defensive assistant Sean Desai, New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Kris Richard and the Dolphins’ own internal candidate, linebackers coach Anthony Campanile. The four candidates interviewed between Wednesday and Friday of the past week before Sunday’s decision.

Fangio, who was head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2019 to 2021, without a deal to return to a coordinator role last offseason, instead became a defensive consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles this season. The Eagles were competing in the NFC Championship Game of the playoffs on Sunday. News of his deal with the Dolphins broke about four hours before Philadelphia’s kickoff against the San Francisco 49ers for a spot in the Super Bowl.

The Carolina Panthers were also reportedly in communication with Fangio for their defensive coordinator spot after hiring Frank Reich as head coach this week. Fangio was also linked to Sean Payton as the successful veteran coach interviewed for various head coaching roles but has not agreed to join any team.

Fangio has a lengthy résumé as an NFL defensive coordinator: Chicago Bears from 2015 to 2018 — where he was also named AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year in his final season — 49ers from 2011 to 2014 (a stretch that included deep playoff runs and even a Super Bowl appearance leading great defenses), Houston Texans for their first four seasons in franchise history from 2002 to 2005, the Indianapolis Colts from 1999 to 2001 and the Carolina Panthers from their inaugural season in 1995 through 1998.

Before reaching the coordinator ranks, he was a longtime New Orleans Saints linebackers coach from 1986 through 1994. He also had stints as a defensive assistant for tough Baltimore Ravens defenses from 2006 to 2009 before coordinating the Stanford University defense in 2010 and following Jim Harbaugh to the 49ers.

Fangio, who turns 65 in August, also coached now-Dolphins edge defender Bradley Chubb during his time in charge with the Broncos.

Fangio brings forward an experienced defensive mind that McDaniel, who possesses an offensive background, can comfortably allow to run the defense.

He also will presumably provide a philosophical change to Boyer’s blitz-heavy approach, something Miami’s previous defensive coordinator did plenty dating back to his years linked with former Dolphins coach Brian Flores. Fangio is expected to be more selective with blitzes while relying on various zone coverages.

Boyer’s high blitz rate was effective when he was under Flores as coordinator in 2020 and 2021, but his unit took a dive last season.

A group expected to be one of the better units in the league finished the 2022 regular season 30th in takeaways, 27th in pass defense, 24th in scoring defense and third-down defense and 18th in total defense. The defense finished strong — keeping the New York Jets out of the end zone in the regular-season finale to clinch a playoff berth and then registering seven sacks, three takeaways and one for a touchdown in the wild-card round playoff loss at the Buffalo Bills — but it wasn’t enough for Boyer to keep his job.

Beyond Boyer, there were other factors that led to the struggles of Miami’s defense in 2022. The unit never had cornerback Byron Jones, who remained on the physically-unable-to-perform list after lower left leg surgery last March. The defense then lost defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, safety Brandon Jones and cornerback Nik Needham to various season-ending injuries. Cornerback Xavien Howard, despite making the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career, was not his usual self, playing through groin and knee injuries.

When Boyer was fired, the Dolphins also announced the dismissal of safeties coach Steve Gregory, outside linebackers coach Ty McKenzie and assistant linebackers coach Steve Ferentz. Filling those roles, along with any other defensive changes Fangio and McDaniel may want to make, is presumably next on the docket for Miami. Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was an assistant coach many believed to be on the hot seat this offseason, like Boyer, but as of Sunday, he remains with the Dolphins.



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