Vic Fangio rookie quarterback defenses – historical review

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Vic Fangio got his first defensive coordinator position in the NFL in 1995. His defenses have faced rookie quarterbacks (16 starts or fewer) 77 times. Read on to see how his defenses have evolved.

I included 2019 and 2020 because Fangio, even as a head coach, still has a big influence on defense.

Sorting by passers-by rating here is the top 20.

Rank Player Dated Tm Opp Results G # Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Sk
1 Tom brady 10/21/2001 ENO INDIANA W 38-17 6 16 20 80.0 202 3 0 148.3 0
2 Aaron Brooks 11/18/2001 OR INDIANA L 34-20 9 19 22 86.4 249 2 0 144.1 4
3 Derek carr 07/12/2014 OAK OFS W 24-13 13 22 28 78.6 254 3 0 140.2 1
4 Ben roethlisberger 09/18/2005 PIT HOU W 27-7 2 14 21 66.7 254 2 0 139.8 1
5 Daunte Culpepper 12/24/2000 MIN INDIANA L 10-31 16 7 ten 70.0 97 1 0 134.2 0
6 Brock Osweiler 22/11/2015 LAIR CHI M 17-15 ten 20 27 74.1 250 2 0 127.1 5
7 Dak prescott 09/25/2016 DAL CHI S 31-17 3 19 24 79.2 248 1 0 123.6 0
8 Rob johnson 1/2/2000 BUF INDIANA L 31-6 16 24 32 75.0 287 2 0 122.8 0
9 Brock Huard 10/15/2000 SEA INDIANA M 24-37 7 19 26 73.1 226 3 1 121.6 5
ten Russell wilson 23/12/2012 SEA OFS W 42-13 15 15 21 71.4 171 4 1 115.3 1
11 Brett Hundley 11/12/2017 GNB CHI W 23-16 9 18 25 72.0 212 1 0 110.7 3
12 David Garrard 12/24/2005 JAX HOU L 38-20 15 18 31 58.1 292 1 0 100.5 3
13 Elvis Grbac 09/21/1997 KAN AUTO M 35-14 4 16 29 55.2 224 3 1 100.4 1
14 Rob johnson 10/1/2000 BUF INDIANA M 16-18 4 21 32 65.6 246 1 0 99.2 4
15 Drew stanton 09/21/2014 ARI OFS W 23-14 3 18 33 54.6 244 2 0 98.5 0
16 Justin herbert 12/27/2020 LAKE LAIR W 19-16 15 21 33 63.6 253 1 0 97.2 2
17 Gardner Minshew II 09/29/2019 JAX LAIR W 26-24 4 19 33 57.6 213 2 0 97.2 5
18 Jameis Winston 12/27/2015 TAM CHI M 21-26 15 15 29 51.7 295 2 1 96.2 1
19 Christian reflection 23/09/2012 MIN OFS W 24-13 3 21 35 60.0 198 2 0 94.7 0
20 Jim miller 05/11/2000 CHI INDIANA M 27-24 9 24 35 68.6 214 1 0 94.2 0

It’s a weird mix of future Hall of Fame QBs (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson) and guys who were companions at best, Brock Osweiler, Brock Huard, Brett Hundley, Elvis Grbac, Gardner Minshew, Drew Stanton, David Garrard and Christian meditate. What you should notice is that Fangio’s team only won four of those games. Note that the “W” result above means Fangio’s team lost the game.

For example, in 2015, in Brock Osweiler’s first start, the Broncos beat the Bears 17-15.

In all of those 77 games, Fangio’s squad is 40-37. I expected a better winning percentage, but some of those defenses (like the early years of the Panthers or Texans) weren’t very good.

Looking at the top twenty games his defense has had against “rookie” quarterbacks, we see that.

Rank Player Dated Tm Opp Results G # Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Sk
57 Akili Smith 24/10/1999 CIN INDIANA L 10-31 7 12 24 50.0 122 0 0 64.9 5
58 Ray lucas 10/17/1999 NYJ INDIANA M 13-16 6 16 30 53.3 137 1 1 62.8 1
59 Tony banks 11/17/1996 LIST AUTO L 10-20 11 14 33 42.4 160 1 1 55.1 6
60 Tommy Maddox 12/08/2002 PIT HOU L 6-24 13 30 57 52.6 325 0 2 55.1 6
61 Billy Joe Hobert 11/30/1997 OR AUTO W 16-13 13 14 30 46.7 190 0 1 53.5 0
62 Chad Hutchinson 12/19/2004 CHI HOU L 5-24 14 17 34 50.0 168 0 1 52.1 2
63 Donovan mcnabb 21/11/1999 RPS INDIANA L 17-44 11 19 36 52.8 165 1 2 51.3 4
64 Jay fiedler 12/17/2000 MIA INDIANA L 13-20 15 12 25 48.0 150 0 1 50.4 4
65 Trent Dilfer 01/10/1995 TAM AUTO S 20-13 5 3 12 25.0 55 0 0 46.2 1
66 Nathan Peterman 04/11/2018 BUF CHI L 9-41 9 31 49 63.3 188 0 3 45.3 4
67 Austin davis 11/2/2014 LIST OFS W 13-10 8 13 24 54.2 105 1 2 44.6 1
68 Taysom Hill 11/29/2020 OR LAIR W 31-3 11 9 16 56.3 78 0 1 43.2 3
69 Byron leftwich 09/28/2003 JAX HOU M 20-24 4 17 36 47.2 231 1 3 42.7 0
70 Quincy Carter 8/9/2002 DAL HOU L 10-19 1 13 30 43.3 131 0 1 42.5 3
71 DeShone Kizer 24/12/2017 KEY CHI L 3-20 15 18 36 50.0 182 0 2 41.7 1
72 Doug johnson 11/30/2003 ATL HOU M 13-17 12 12 27 44.4 116 0 1 41.6 0
73 Andy dalton 25/09/2011 CIN OFS M 8-13 3 17 32 53.1 157 0 2 40.8 1
74 Russell wilson 10/18/2012 SEA OFS L 6-13 7 9 23 39.1 122 0 1 38.7 2
75 Danny wuerffel 19/10/1997 OR AUTO L 0-13 8 13 32 40.6 132 0 2 27.1 7
76 John skelton 20/11/2011 ARI OFS L 7-23 ten 6 19 31.6 99 0 3 10.5 1
77 Tony Graziani 10/26/1997 ATL AUTO M 12-21 8 4 18 22.2 24 0 2 0.0 1

You should note that Russell Wilson is on both lists. When he faced Fangio’s defense in his seventh career start, he played poorly. When he faced Fangio’s defense in his sixteenth, he played extremely well. This bodes well as we will face Trevor Lawrence for his second career start. Likewise, Justin Herbert did a bit better as a rookie the second time he faced the Fangio defense last season. Herbert had an 89.1 passer rating in the first game (Game Seven last season) and a 97.2 passer rating in the second game (Game 15).

The average among these quarterbacks (dating back to 1995) when they encountered a Fangio defense as a rookie was:

  • 57.5% completion
  • 194 passing yards
  • 1.0 DT
  • 0.8 INT
  • 78.1 passer rating
  • 2.2 bags

Nine of those quarterbacks have been sacked five or more times, with leading Danny Wuerffel being sacked seven times by the Panthers defense in 1997. Last season, the Bronco defense was able to sack Tua Tagovailoa six times. Former Broncos Osweiler and Tommy Maddox were sacked five and six times in their rookie debut against Fangio’s defenses. Gardner Minshew was sacked five times in one of his first starts in 2019 against the Broncos and the Fangio defense. This game was the last time the Broncos faced the Jaguars.


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