ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Special teams have done Vic Fangio no favors.
In his three years as head coach, the Broncos have allowed five touchdown returns off kickoffs and punts. Three were kickoff returns for touchdowns, the latest of which was a 101-yard gut punch by the Chargers’ Andre Roberts that turned a fairly competitive game into a blowout. There have also been two scoring punt returns allowed.
No NFL team has allowed more in that span.
Only one other team, Carolina, has allowed 4 combined scoring returns off. Only three other teams have allowed three special teams touchdowns. That leaves 27 teams allowing two or fewer special teams return touchdowns.
“We’ve had a lot of good plays with special teams, but we’ve had our plays that have critically affected the game in a negative way also,’’ Fangio said in a Zoom day-after-game press conference Monday. “That’s an area we’ve got to clean up. You don’t want it to negatively affect the game with special teams. And that’s happened too often. And even if it’s just a couple times that’s too often. That’s got to be a solid area for us each and every week that we at least go out there and cover the kicks, get ‘em down, we make our kicks. We get some return yards. It’s been inconsistent no doubt about it.”
Broncos general manager George Paton figure to discuss Fangio’s future with the team this week, and Paton figures to then talk with Fangio about how best to move forward. To have any hope of saving his job for a fourth season, Fangio will have to come up with a better plan for his special teams. Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon has been with the Broncos four years, one more than Fangio. Counting the 2018 season, the Broncos have allowed an NFL-most six touchdowns off kickoff (4) and punt returns.
“There’s no doubt we’ve tried to,’’ Fangio said. “We’ve made a major emphasis in the offseason and the end of training camp to bring guys in to help with the special teams (namely Jonas Griffith and Mike Ford) and I think a lot of those guys have done a good job with special teams. We haven’t been able to get a big return this year with either the punt or the kickoff. We’ve given up some returns, no doubt about it.
“Some of those are kick-related, some of those are a combination of the kick and the coverage. And sometimes it’s a combination of multiple guys going in and out to where we don’t have the continuity in the coverage teams from week to week. But we’ve got to find a way to get that better, and we will."
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