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As Fangio's seat warms, Broncos history shows interim coach is not the answer

Broncos have had four previous interim coach situations, mostly recently in 2010 when Studesville went 1-3 in relief of 3-9 McDaniels.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Firing the head coach and finishing the rest of the season with an interim coach may temporarily pacify an angry mob.

Broncos history with such maneuvers, though, shows it won’t transform a losing team into a winner. There has generally been ever-so-slight improvement when an in-season coaching change is made. But the change is going from dreadful to not-quite-as dreadful.

Vic Fangio, in his third season as Broncos’ head coach, has been at the helm during his team’s current four-game losing streak. This after posting losing records in his first two seasons, and this after a hopeful 3-0 start this year. Cautious optimism in 2021 has collapsed into here-we-go-again.

And so there has been growing outspoken sentiment to fire the head coach. Which is understandable but what also must be considered is the alternative.

Here’s a look at the four Broncos head coaches who have been fired in-season and replaced by interim coaches:

Year … First coach ………. W-L …… Interim coach .… W-L ... Overall

1964 … Jack Faulkner ...… 0-4 …… Mac Speedie … 2-7-1 …… 2-11-1

1966 … Mac Speedie ….... 0-2 ..… Ray Malavasi …… 4-8 …….… 4-10

1971 … Lou Saban …….. 2-6-1 ..… Jerry Smith …….… 2-3 …….. 4-9-1

2010 … Josh McDaniels … 3-9 ….. Eric Studesville … 1-3 …..…. 4-12

Totals …….………………. 5-21-1 ….…………………….. 9-21-1 … 14-42-2

This does not include Jack Del Rio’s 3-1 mark as a fill-in for John Fox, who had emergency heart surgery in 2013, or Joe DeCamillis’ 0-1 mark as a one-game replacement for an ailing Gary Kubiak in 2016. Those situations are not officially recognized by NFL record keepers because Del Rio and DeCamillis were not permanent replacements.

Yes, the Broncos’ combined interim record of 9-21 is better than the 5-21 combined mark of the coaches they replaced. But an interim has hardly been the answer. And neither record is better than the 3-4 mark Fangio will bring into the Broncos’ upcoming game Sunday against Washington at Empower Field at Mile High.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio takes the field prior to n NFL preseason football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

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