Vic Fangio defends inexcusable clock management in Broncos loss

Liz Roscher
·4 min read

The Denver Broncos lost their season opener against the Tennessee Titans on Monday by just two points. The entire game came down to a drive by the Titans in the final minutes, and a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 17 seconds left gave the Titans a 16-14 win.

Despite the Broncos’ meager one-point lead hanging in the balance over the final two minutes of the game while the Titans determinedly drove the ball downfield and ran out the clock, coach Vic Fangio didn’t use a single timeout until there were just two seconds left in the game. He still had two timeouts in his pocket when the game ended.

That’s just hideous clock management, plain and simple. But after the game, Fangio insisted there were good reasons he didn’t use those timeouts.

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 14:  Head coach Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos reacts on the sideline late in a game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High on September 14, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Vic Fangio reacts on the sideline late in the game against the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Fangio insists there were reasons

Following the game, Fangio defended his decision to let the Titans run down the clock in the final two minutes instead of calling any of his three timeouts.

“It was two-fold. One, their field goal kicker had obviously been having his problems. I didn’t want to extend the drive so they could get closer,” Fangio said, via the AP. “No. 2, we would’ve used the timeout, but we got the running back out of bounds. We would’ve used the second timeout, but they threw an incompletion, which would’ve given us one left when we got the ball back. That was part of our thinking there.”

Fangio is technically correct, especially because Titans kicker Steve Gostkowski had missed three field goals and an extra point during the game. But the plays he’s talking about happened in the final 30 seconds of the game, just before the go-ahead field goal. That ignores the previous 90 seconds in which the Titans had been lazily running out the clock. He could have used either of his two timeouts in that span.

While using those timeouts may not have led to a Broncos win, it would have changed the conversation. At least we wouldn’t be talking about how Fangio didn’t use one of his most important tools as a coach while the opposing team took its sweet time setting up a game-winning field goal. But even using those timeouts can’t change the conversation around this eye-popping stat.

Fangio rightly roasted for clock management

Fangio’s reasons for not using his timeouts mostly seem like poor excuses engineered to justify his truly terrible clock management. Viewers and analysts agreed, and with one mighty voice they roasted Fangio on Twitter until he was burnt to a crisp.

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