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Broncos' Vic Fangio: 'Von Miller can play even better'

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Vic Fangio knows a thing or two about defense.

The new Denver Broncos head coach joins the team after serving as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, where he led that team to finish the 2018 regular season ranked first in scoring defense (17.7 points allowed per game), takeaways (36) and interceptions (27), and third in sacks (50) and turnover differential (+12).

Fangio's cause in Chicago was buoyed by the presence of outside linebacker Khalil Mack and rookie inside linebacker Roquan Smith. But the head coach has a more than worthy consolation prize in Denver with outside linebackers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.

"Well, obviously, starting off we have two good players on the outside," Fangio said Thursday during his introductory press conference. "Von Miller can be one of the rare players in this league, much like Khalil is. I'm looking forward to working with both of them.

"Bradley is a guy that we had high grades on also in Chicago last year, and I'm aware that he had a good season this year."

Miller finished the 2018 regular season with 14.5 sacks, which tied for the fourth-most in the league, and was selected to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl. Chubb turned in an exceptional rookie season with 12 sacks, which tied for the eighth-most in the league. As a defense, the Broncos ranked eighth in the league with 44 sacks.

And as scary as it might sound to opposing offenses, Miller and Chubb could see a spike in production given Fangio's arrival.

Going back to his time as the linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints, where he led the feared "Dome Patrol" group consisting of Pro Football Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Vaughan Johnson and Sam Mills, Fangio excels in getting the most out of the linebacker group.

"What those guys did for me was set the bar high," Fangio said. "Once the bar is set high, then you don't accept much less. So, when I'm looking at players, I know what a good player looks like because these guys set the bar high."

Miller and Chubb are now on the receiving end of their new head coach's full capabilities.

"That's my position of expertise when I'm coaching a position, and those guys are going to get coached by their position coach," Fangio said. "But they're going to get a little extra from me, too, and we're going to try and take them both to bigger and better levels. And I think Von Miller can play even better than he's played in his career."

Here are other highlights from Fangio's press conference:

» Fangio declined to comment on Gary Kubiak's role with the Broncos, saying none of the assistant coaching positions have been finalized as of yet, before adding, "If Gary is interested, then I'm interested."

» Fangio indicated he doesn't have any plans to disrupt the quarterback position as of now: "Right now, Case Keenum is our quarterback."

» Fangio, who emphasized he will instill fundamentals on the team, said he will maintain control on calling defensive plays: "They hired me because of my work on the defensive side of the ball. I'm going to give them my work on the defensive side of the ball. I believe for the most part I'm pretty good at it, so I'm going to do it."

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