Vic Fangio to accept role as Dolphins defensive coordinator after Super Bowl, report says

Jack Dempsey/AP

The Dolphins have gone almost a week without announcing the hiring of Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator, causing confusion and concern regarding Miami landing one of the most respected minds in the NFL.

But Fangio is still expected to lead the Dolphins’ defense in 2023.

ESPN reported Thursday that Fangio, after speaking to multiple teams, has decided to join the Dolphins and will accept the position on Miami’s staff after the Super Bowl. Fangio has spent this season as a defensive consultant for the Eagles, who will face the Chiefs in Super 57 on Feb. 12.

A source on Jan. 29 confirmed to the Miami Herald that the team agreed to terms to make Fangio their next defensive coordinator, replacing Josh Boyer, who was fired on Jan. 19. But Fangio, who had previously interviewed for defensive coordinator positions with the Falcons and Panthers, later told two national reporters that a deal had not been finalized. According to CBS Sports, the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he previously served as defensive coordinator, also had an interest in Fangio with Demeco Ryans leaving for the Houston Texans’ head-coaching vacancy.

But in the end, the Dolphins will be bringing in a coach that they were initially linked to when Mike McDaniel was hired as head coach last year.

According to NFL Network, which originally reported the Dolphins had agreed to terms with Fangio, the deal is a three-year contract with a team option for the fourth year and makes Fangio the highest-paid coordinator in the NFL.

Fangio, who turns 65 in August, has also been a defensive coordinator for the Panthers, Colts, Texans and Bears in an NFL coaching career that spans over three decades.

He was named 2018 AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year after leading a Chicago defense that ranked first in takeaways. He then received his first head-coaching opportunity with the Broncos. He was fired after three seasons, accumulating a 19-30 record.

Fangio was one of four known candidates for the Dolphins’ opening. Miami also interviewed former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai, former Saints co-defensive coordinator Kris Richard and Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile.

After keeping the core of their unit from 2021, the Dolphins’ defense regressed in 2022. Miami ranked 24th in scoring defense (23.5 points per game) and 30th in takeaways (14).

In Fangio’s 22 seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator or head coach, his defense has finished top-10 in scoring 10 times and in the top half of the league 13 times.

Fangio’s arrival is also expected to come with a philosophical change to a defense that has relied on heavy rates of blitzing and man coverage in recent years.

Fangio’s defenses have typically centered around varying usage of zone coverages and pre- and post-snap disguises with a more measured approach to blitzing.

In a 2019 sitdown interview with ESPN, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, Rams coach Sean McVay and Packers coach Matt LaFleur all named Fangio as the coach whose defense is hardest to game plan for.

“He does so many things with his personnel groupings that he puts you in a bind with protections. He ties a lot of stuff together,” Shanahan said.