As Vic Fangio sat alone in his temporary home — a hotel room south of Denver — and watched the Super Bowl, the Broncos’ coach wore his usual gray warmup suit and a contented expression that could be poured on waffles.
A subtle sense of self-satisfaction?
"Yes. I kinda knew (the Patriots) would use that defensive scheme. It was obvious they would copy us because of our success against the Rams," Vic, who looks exactly like an Italian guy named Vic should, told me during a lengthy conversation the other day in his expansive office on the second floor of the Broncos’ headquarters. Outside the bank of windows, an intense fog and snow engulfed Dove Valley.
The Rams, who averaged 34.1 points in 15 regular-season games and scored 48 once, had only two first-half field goals in Chicago on Dec. 9. Fangio was the Bears’ defensive coordinator.
One post-game headline shouted: "Vic Fangio Throws Perfect Game Vs. L.A. Rams." Fangio, a lifelong Phillies fanatic, would appreciate the baseball analogy.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff was sacked three times and suffered four interceptions. He was tackled in the end zone for a safety and completed only 20 of 44 passes for 180 yards. Running back Todd Gurley gained only 28 yards on 11 carries.
"We went old school on them," says the man who was born in 1958 and began coaching in 1979.
Steve Owen, who coached the Giants from 1930-53 and became an early Hall of Fame inductee, devised the original "6-1 Umbrella Defense" (six linemen, one linebacker, four defensive backs) in 1950 to beat the brilliant Paul Brown and the all-powerful Browns.