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Dolphins finally make Vic Fangio hire official. What to expect from Miami’s new defense

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 2/15/2023 David Wilson, Miami Herald

The long wait is over: Vic Fangio is officially the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator.

Fangio signed his contract with the Dolphins on Wednesday, less than three days after he wrapped up a season as a consultant with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Miami agreed to terms to hire Fangio last month, but held off on officially announcing the hire until Wednesday as Fangio was under a two-week contract with the Eagles for Super Bowl 57. He served essentially as an unofficial consultant for Philadelphia throughout the season, which ended with a 38-35 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Fangio’s contract is a three-year deal with a team option in Year 4, and makes him the highest-paid coordinator in the NFL. The 65-year-old was also the Denver Broncos’ coach from 2019 to 2021 and had previous stints as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and Stanford Cardinal. He has regularly been working as either a defensive coordinator or coach, with the exception of three years as a defensive assistant coach for the Baltimore Ravens and this last year as a consultant for the Eagles, and won the AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2018 when his Bears defense led the league in scoring defense and takeaways. He took over as the Broncos’ coach the next year and was ultimately fired after three seasons with a 19-30 record.

Fangio also interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons and Panthers before picking the Dolphins. He was long one of Mike McDaniel’s top choices, and the coach even considered him for the job last year before opting to retain former defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.

In Miami Gardens, Fangio will get to work with a still-young, promising group, which regressed in the 2022 NFL season. The Dolphins ranked 24th in the league in scoring defense and 30th in takeaways. In Fangio’s 22 seasons as a defensive coordinator or coach, his defenses ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense 10 times and the top half of the league 13.

The Dolphins’ talented defensive core includes defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler, Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard, safety Jevon Holland and linebackers Jaelan Phillips, Jerome Baker and Bradley Chubb, whom Fangio coached in Denver. Miami should also defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, cornerback Nik Needham and safety Brandon Jones all back after they sustained season-ending injuries this year, as well as a decision to make on cornerback Byron Jones, who didn’t play a single snap in 2020 due to injury.

With Fangio now in the fold, Miami will likely make philosophical changes to its defense. When Boyer and former coach Brian Flores were running their defense, the Dolphins had one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL, relying on high blitz rates — only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals have blitzed more frequently since the 2019 NFL season — and steady man-to-man coverage. Fangio’s defenses, however, typically play zone defense and rank near the bottom half of the league in blitz rate.

©2023 Miami Herald. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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