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Vic Fangio Defends Decision to Play Josey Jewell on Special Teams

Vic Fangio had a message for what's been some vocal criticism in the wake of Josey Jewell's season-ending injury coming on special teams.

Winning cures all. 

A cliche that abounds throughout American pro sports. With two wins safely tucked under their belt, we aren’t hearing much about how Drew Lock should be lining up for the Denver Broncos under center. 

That doesn’t mean fans are 100 percent satisfied with how all phases of the 2-0 Broncos are performing, though. Special teams has been Denver's Achilles heel for what seems forever, and once again, the unit misfired in Week 2 by relinquishing a 102-yard kick-off return for a touchdown that briefly gave the Jacksonville Jaguars hope.

Turning around the third phase is a matter of urgency. Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon is already four years into his job in Denver, and judging by head coach Vic Fangio’s forensic analysis of Sunday’s return coverage breakdowns, it's fair to wonder whether he's on the hot seat.

“We had some bad stacking in there where we could have stacked the blocker on our back a little more and made the play,” Fangio detailed on Monday. “Bad angle from the backside in particular which could have got him down after he got through that first wave. We could have tackled it at the 25 [yard line]. We had a bad angle there. Obviously, we need to fix that.”

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Part of fixing things involves some roster maneuvering but special teams ace Mike Boone is set to return off injured reserve as soon as Week 4, which will undoubtedly help. Considering starting inside linebacker Josey Jewell has lost for the season after making a special-teams tackle, it’s only going to highlight the unit’s ongoing struggles.

Fangio addressed Jewell's unfortunate injury, defending how common it is for certain starters to contribute in the third phase. Such is the verve to make improvements that Fangio was without remorse for rolling the dice with such an important piece of his defensive puzzle.

“No. We’ve made a commitment to improve our special teams,” Fangio said. “We have a few guys that do that, that play on special teams who are considered starters. We’re just looking to make our special teams better. When I was in San Francisco, [former NFL LB] NaVorro Bowman, who was an All-Pro all three years and contending for Defensive Player of the Year, covered every single punt for three years in San Francisco.”

Fangio’s comments provide cold comfort for Broncos Country in the wake of losing Jewell, but should the issues continue, Fangio might have to come to the unhappy realization that the coordinator is the root of the problem.


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