Column: Fangio Breath Of Fresh Air During Pandemic Football
Denver Broncos place kicker Brandon McManus (8) follows through on one of his six field goals against the New England Patriots in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
And its one of the five head coaches fined by the league last month for shoddy mask wearing on the sideline, no less.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio has been personally touched by COVID-19. His daughter, Cassie, who is a nurse at a military hospital in San Antonio, has recovered after contracting the virus that has led to more than 220,000 deaths in the U.S. and more than 1 million worldwide.
So, the repeated delays of Denvers game at New England because of the Patriots infections didnt unnerve Fangio, who admonished his players not to gripe about losing their bye week when the league pushed their game at New England back a week.
Thats part of it, Fangio said of his daughters diagnosis, but also I know a lot of people have had their lives interrupted in a very negative way whether it be through the illness itself, losing their job, taking a pay cut … Some small businesses, people who have worked their whole lives to establish a business, are really struggling right now.
Luckily here in the NFL, so far as players and coaches, we havent missed any paychecks, Fangio said. Were just going to keep fighting through and consider ourselves lucky. Yes, weve been inconvenienced and there are a lot of protocols to follow- some of them can be a little overbearing at times but theyre necessary.
I think in the big picture weve been lucky.
How can you complain if your coach is doling out this kind of perspective?
Hes done a good job, and I think the whole organization has done a great job, Brandon McManus said after his franchise record six field goals propelled the Broncos to their 18-12 win at Foxborough on Sunday.
Obviously, its our first time dealing with anything like this, said McManus, who was among the loudest voices in the players union calling for the daily COVID-19 testing back in the summer. All of us are doing it on the fly and whatever team does that the best definitely has the best chance to win on Sunday.
McManus received a game ball from Fangio, who also promised to deliver one to his running backs coach, Curtis Modkins, who stayed back in Denver after testing positive for the virus on Saturday.
Other notable calls in Week 6:
Rookie Tua Tagovailoa made his NFL debut in the closing minutes of Miamis first shutout of the Jets since the January 1983 AFC championship game. After the Dolphins 24-0 victory, Tagovailoa spent several minutes sitting alone on the field on a video call with his parents.
It was a very special moment for me because my parents werent here, Tagovailoa said after his first action since hurting a hip in his final game at Alabama last November. I sat close to where I think our last drive ended, and I FaceTimed my parents. It was exciting to get out there. It was really fun. My parents were happy to see me out there playing again.
So were Dolphins fans who are hoping they caught a glimpse of the franchises future.
Was anybody surprised to see Riverboat Ron Rivera go for 2 and the win in the final minute against the Giants on Sunday?
I want to win. Im playing to win, Rivera said after Washingtons 20-19 loss that gave New York coach Joe Judge his first NFL win. Im trying to get our players to understand this is how were going to do things.
Washington tied the game on a 22-yard pass by Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with 36 seconds to play, but Allens 2-point toss fell incomplete.
We didnt come to tie and we didnt come here to lose, said Allen. We came to win. Thats his mentality right now. The division is up for grabs. I wish we had won the game today. Ties, loss, its been his mentality. You want to win.
In keeping with the Vic Fangio theme, lets close with one of his key decisions from Sunday.
The Broncos (2-3) scored on their first six drives at New England (2-3), although all six scores were field goals by McManus, who set a franchise record with kicks from 45, 44, 27, 52, 20 and 54 yards.
Rather than go for a 57-yarder when the Broncos seventh drive stalled at the New England 39, Fangio sent Sam Martin out for his first punt a minute into the fourth quarter.
If he had missed, I didnt want to give them the good field position and jumpstart their offense there, Fangio said. So, I dont regret the decision.
Neither does McManus.
Asked how badly he wanted to go for his seventh field goal right there, McManus said, About 0%. Ive made one kick 57 yards and over. Youve got to play the percentages.”
McManus famously had a sideline blowup in 2019 after Fangio called him back to the sideline as he was preparing to attempt an NFL record 65-yarder at altitude.
This time, McManus was in lockstep with his coach.
I really wasnt itching at all to go out there, McManus said.
With contributions from AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan.
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