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EAGLES DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR VIC FANGIO - PRESS CONFERENCE


Vic Fangio - From philadelphiaeagles.com

PRESS CONFERENCE - May 9, 2024


Q. Why Philly? Why did you decide to come here?


VIC FANGIO: Well, it was exactly 40 years ago when I started my pro coaching career across the street at Veterans Stadium, and I thought it would be cool to hopefully end it here. So, 40 years later, here I am.

A lot of things change, and a lot of things don't. One of the first things I've done, several times, I still go to the Philadium down on Packer [Avenue] for my meals, just like I did way back then. Phillies are still playing good. You guys didn't clobber them for losing one game yesterday, did you? (laughter)

But no, just to come back, my kids live two hours south of here. My mother, who's 97, lives two hours north of here. So, a lot of family considerations.

I was a big Philly fan growing up in all sports. It was a thrill for me to go to work every day at Veterans Stadium 40 years ago because I used to go to games there all the time. And now it's a good thrill to come back 40 years later and hopefully finish it out here.


Q. So, you expect this to be your last stop?


VIC FANGIO: I would think so, but as we all know in this business, nothing's guaranteed.


Q. Was this your expectation to come back here when you left Miami? Did you kind of see this as an opportunity? Is that why you left Miami to come here?


VIC FANGIO: Basically, yes.


Q. When you were here a couple years ago, what were your responsibilities when you were a consultant?


VIC FANGIO: I wasn't here that often. I really helped the offense. I'd say 95 percent of any of my contributions were to the offense and 5 percent to the defense.

That's basically what I was doing, trying to give the offensive coaches a pre-look at the defense they're going against, what could possibly hurt them, what's their strengths, what's their weaknesses. Schematically, where they can be attacked maybe and not attacked.

All that different kind of stuff. But it wasn't every week.


Q. Would you have been here if the timeline of defensive coordinator openings was different last year?


VIC FANGIO: I think that's a fair assumption.


Q. We've heard a lot of people talk about your defense, but from your perspective, what are the most important elements of it?


VIC FANGIO: Good players. And I'm not trying to be a wise guy with that.

We have a system that is versatile, we like to think. It needs to be versatile because every week you're facing different strengths of an offense, different schemes.

So, what you play in one week 10, 15 times, you may not play at all the next week. You have to have a versatile system for the offenses today in the NFL. What we'll eventually do is learn what our guys are best at.

I like to throw a lot at them early because I think one of the worst things you can do is come Week 3, Week 5, ‘Man, we could really use this scheme,’ but it hadn't been introduced to the players yet. Whereas if you introduced it to them in training camp and worked on it, when you pull it back out three, four weeks later, there's recall.

We'll throw a lot at them in training camp to see what best fits for them, what they're good at, and then try and whittle it down, but always keeping some stuff in the bank in case we need it at some point during the season.


Q. We've seen a lot of defenses across the league that balance aspects of your scheme. You hear a lot about the Fangio scheme. Does it present challenges as more defenses try to emulate what you do? How do you handle that?


VIC FANGIO: Yes and no. Yes in that you see the way some teams might want to try and attack it, but no in the sense that it's not as different as it was when we first started doing it and built it.

So, it's yes and no.


Q. Along the lines of getting good players, how much of an influence or factor were you in the players they acquired during the offseason, whether it was the free agent guys or the guys that were drafted like CB Quinyon Mitchell and DB Cooper DeJean?


VIC FANGIO: Yeah, [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] asked me to watch several players. I gave him my opinion and then he took it from there.


Q. When it comes to versatile players, like DB Cooper DeJean, a lot of people projected him at different spots around the league. What's your philosophy as far as how you start guys out like that who may have multiplicity over different positions?


VIC FANGIO: There's a lot of players that physically are capable of being versatile. Where a lot of them get eliminated from being versatile is they struggle to learn the assignments and the techniques and the execution at a couple different positions.

There's a lot of guys that are versatile physically, but can't do it mentally. And I don't mean that -- they're not going to get -- your reps are watered down the more you're moving around -- and other guys it comes easier for them than others, if that makes sense to you.

And what was the second part?


Q. Just the fact of how you start those types of players out.


VIC FANGIO: You start them out at a primary position, and then you start giving them the secondary position, and you go from there.


Q. After you left Miami, it was suggested that you didn't get along with some of the players, that there were relationship strains. What was your perspective? (Tim McManus)


VIC FANGIO: I didn't see that at all, really. Anything we do, whether there, here, or anywhere else I've been, is what we think is the best for the team and best for the defense, specifically, to stop somebody. Wherever that falls, that's where it falls.


Q. To follow up on that, how have players changed since those days 40 years ago across the street? How are they different now than they were?


VIC FANGIO: That's a good question. We can stay here all day and answer that, but I'm going to give you the cliff-note version of that:

They really haven't changed very much at all.

What's changed is the people around them. People are not expecting as much out of players as we used to expect.

These players will work and give you everything they've got within reason. It starts at an early age, when they're in high school, college, everybody -- less-is-more type of thing, preserve your energy.

You guys here in the NBA, load management. I've talked to coaches from other sports that I know, and it drives them crazy. The players are willing to work. Never had an issue with that. And they’re still willing to work. But we as the so-called adults in the room need to push them.


Q. At linebacker, specifically, how do you see the personnel here matching what you want to do?


VIC FANGIO: When you say linebacker, I think inside linebackers, okay?

I think they're off to a good start. We've got [Zack] Baun here who's played a little bit of inside linebacker in New Orleans. He really didn't play a whole lot of defense there, but he was inside some, more outside.

We think he can play inside, and I have not seen anything so far that says otherwise. Obviously, we got Devin [White] here from Tampa. You guys are well aware of him. He had a great career going, had a down year last year for whatever reason.

We hope to get him back to where he was. Nakobe [Dean] is on the mend from his injuries last year.

Who am I forgetting here? Keep going. Yeah, [Jeremiah] Trotter's [Jr.] got to come in and join the fray, and let's see what he has. And [Oren] Burks too.

He's been a veteran backup. He's in the hunt too. We don't have anybody established as, per se, an Eagle, but we've got guys to work with, and we're happy with the group so far.


Q. To follow up on the question and your response to that about the changes in the game over 40 years, how have you found that you have had to adapt to the limited schedule? In fact, here the Eagles probably practiced the least amount maybe last year of any team in the NFL. How will you adapt to that?


VIC FANGIO: You've got to make due with what you got, but I keep pushing for more.


Q. Did you push for more this offseason before coming here?


VIC FANGIO: I'll let [head coach] Nick [Sirianni] answer that for you.


Q. Do you think players can take the pushing the wrong way?


VIC FANGIO: Again, within reason. I'm not proposing we go two-a-days and do -- what is it, what was the [movie], North Dallas Forty?


Q. In 2022, that was sort of a hiatus where you got to dive into, study, and catch up -- just study trends and things like that. When you have a system that everybody's trying to kind of use in their own system, if you take time between this offseason, between Miami to now, what do you try to do in terms of taking a step ahead? And how much different do you think things can be with the players that you have here?


VIC FANGIO: Well, I've got to first learn these players. I think the narrative you're painting that people are trying to -- people are pulling stuff from our defense -- they're not doing it verbatim, you know what I'm saying? Mostly.

But I've been super busy since I came here. Any time you go somewhere and it's your first offseason with a new staff, new players, adapting to everything, you're super busy. Yeah, I study film. I take a couple defenses every year and break them down around the league and see if I can learn something. I don't know if I'm answering your question.


Q. The Eagles hadn't picked a cornerback in the first round in a long time. How much was your voice in that? And a guy like CB Quinyon Mitchell, how does his skill set help you with what you can do with your secondary?


VIC FANGIO: He's obviously got good movement. He's got good size for a corner. He's going to have to adapt to the NFL game, covering NFL receivers, NFL schemes in the passing game. There's a lot to learn. We think he's the right guy emotionally and mentally to do that. Hopefully he'll pay dividends quickly rather than later. But he's going to be one of the many competing.


Q. Having worked with former Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai as long as you did, what was your perspective on the way last year went for him here?


VIC FANGIO: I really don't know. Any time it goes bad like it did, usually everybody has their fingerprints on it. It's not just one thing or one person.


Q. When it comes to that -- you've had that flat defender, SAM linebacker, you've had some success with that. Former Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel had a big year for you last year. Is that something that you want, or is that something I have this player and I want to take advantage of this particular player?


VIC FANGIO: His versatility, you're talking about?


Q. Well, his role.


VIC FANGIO: Yeah, he obviously showed that he -- I thought he could do it, and then he showed he could do it. So, we did it, used him that way. Then we got handcuffed through injuries. He had to play one position then. But yeah, any time you have guys that are versatile, it helps. It helps a lot.


Q. What about building the rest of the defensive staff. What was important to you?


VIC FANGIO: To get good coaches. Obviously, some of these guys I've had some history with, but it really wasn't the history of knowing them while they're here. I had firsthand knowledge that they're good coaches.

So, that was first and foremost. [Safeties coach] Joe [Kasper] was here, [senior defensive assistant/defensive line coach] Clint [Hurtt], [linebackers coach] Bobby King I didn't know from Adam until we hired him. He's done a great job so far. Priority one was good coaches. Then if they did have familiarity with the scheme or me, that helped.


Q. A lot of these guys, you'll be their fourth defensive coordinator in a couple years. A lot of these guys are going to have three position coaches. How much of a challenge is that to kind of start from scratch again for them?


VIC FANGIO: It does add a level of challenge to it. Hopefully, we'll get enough work between the offseason and training camp to get through that. But there's no denying that continuity, if it's good continuity, is helpful.


Q. How do you plan to maximize DT Jalen Carter in your defense?


VIC FANGIO: I think he’s talented enough that no matter what we do with him, we’ll be maximizing him. He’s got to get in great shape, which I think he’s off to a great start here, so we can play him a lot.


Q. In terms of limiting explosive plays, where do you rank that in terms of priorities?


VIC FANGIO: High.


Q. Highest?


VIC FANGIO: It's high.


Q. What about getting after the quarterback? How big is that for you?


VIC FANGIO: High.


Q. Highest?


VIC FANGIO: It's high.


Q. How about not letting the other team score? Where does that rank?


VIC FANGIO: That's number one. That's the highest. (laughter)


Q. You were asked about DT Jalen Carter. What about DT Jordan Davis?


VIC FANGIO: Same thing. He's heading into his third year. I think he's off to a good start this offseason. I don't have anything to compare it to, not having been here his first two years.

But I think he's working good.

I think he's rounding into good shape. It's up to us to give him the opportunity and platform to get in good shape, and then rely on him when he leaves here and that dead time between the offseason and camp. From what I've seen so far, very encouraging.


Q. What interaction did you have with DE Bryce Huff, and what do you like about him that you've seen on film and otherwise?


VIC FANGIO: [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] asked us to watch him, both myself and [defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Jeremiah Washburn] Wash.

We liked him.

He's been a good pass rusher for the Jets playing in somewhat of a part time role. Hopefully we can make him proficient enough to where he plays more, meaning his run play and on the occasion or two that we might want to drop him.


Q. Last year you mentioned, I know you weren’t a part of it, but you said when the defense is trying week to week to try to solve things and there's a lot of hands in trying to get it back on track, what from your experience -- and I don't know if the Eagles asked this from you -- where you can help build game plans week to week? What are your strengths there, whenever things do turn around, that you can find solutions each week? What goes into that from a defensive coordinator position?


VIC FANGIO: I think what you're saying -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- is they weren't playing good, they had injuries, so there was a lot of moving parts. Is that what you're saying?


Q. Finding solutions week to week.


VIC FANGIO: Yeah, basically, and I'm not totally sure of your question, but when things aren't going good, you need to go back to basics. I'll tell the players early in camp that if we're struggling, don't expect me to magically scheme our way out of it during a game. We're going back to basics, and we're going to call the things that we've been practicing since day one, and we've got to fight our way out of it. And if you don't have that foundation, and you're always grabbing for the perfect call, you'll be okay for a little bit, but eventually you're going to get gashed.


Q. Dropping into coverage on occasion for the edge rushers, what's your view on how you want to use the edge rushers in coverage?


VIC FANGIO: They will occasionally drop, yes.


Q. Just the cliffs-notes version, how do you become a football coach and not take your career towards the baseball side of things?


VIC FANGIO: I don't know. It's a good question. I had a great high school coach. When he retired, he was the second-winningest coach in the state of Pennsylvania, Jack Henzes, and played for him, and I kind of caught the bug from him for football. Coaching in football has more of an impact on the game than baseball does and most other sports. There's no other sport where you huddle up, or you're making a call every single time, so you have an important impact.

And you play one game a week, so there's a lot of practice, a lot of teaching. I enjoy practice. I enjoy teaching. Coaching in football is different than baseball, for sure. I used to say, before they went to 17 games, every one of our games was worth 10 in Major League Baseball. Because we had 16, and they had 162.

So, when we lost 2 in a row, that was like losing 20 in a row in baseball. That kind of paints a good picture for people who don’t realize that.

It's just like with the Phillies here, [Phillies manager Rob Thomson] he's letting [Phillies outfielder Nick] Castellanos fight his way out of a slump. You can't do that here. They wouldn't do that if they were in the playoffs either. But they've got 162 games.


Q. I think people would look at you and head coach Nick Sirianni and think that you have kind of different personalities from the outside. How has it been working with him every day so far?


VIC FANGIO: Good. No issue. I don't know why they would think that. *


Email Al Thompson at al.thompson@footballstories.com

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