MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Veteran NFL coach Vic Fangio compared the year he took off from the sidelines to a tenured professor on sabbatical leave.

For the 64-year-old Fangio, whose NFL coaching career spans 35 years, class is in session again.

Fangio was introduced as the Miami Dolphins new defensive coordinator at the club’s training facility Monday. Fangio replaces Josh Boyer, who was not retained by head coach Mike McDaniel after three seasons with the club.

“I think the Dolphins have a good thing going here,” Fangio said. “There are good components of the coaching staff led by Mike that made it intriguing to join that. I still have a lot of coaching left in me. It’s who I am and what I enjoy doing.”

Fangio had a three-year head coaching tenure with the Denver Broncos, going 19-30. He was fired after the 2021 season, when the Broncos finished 7-10, and didn’t coach in 2022.

Fangio is considered one of the league’s respected defensive coaches. Before his career promotion in Denver, Fangio had two four-year stints as defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears. Fangio also has served as coordinator with the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans.

“It’s an exciting day for the Miami Dolphins organization,” McDaniel said. “Since the season ended we’ve tried to attach in the journey looking towards the future, whom can we entrust to continue to develop the players.”

Under Boyer, the Dolphins were ranked 18th in defense and 27th in passing defense.

“You don’t have a sustaining career — longer than I’ve been alive — like Vic has, without that fearless chase of continuing to evolve and get better,” the 39-year-old McDaniel said.

Although the Dolphins defense was in the bottom half statistically last season, Fangio believes the unit has a young and talented core.

Fangio singled out pass rusher Jaelan Phillips, safety Jevon Holland and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins among the players who could help lift Miami’s defense.

Fangio’s hiring already is attracting assistants from other teams. Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, who worked with Fangio in Chicago and Denver, will join him in Miami.

“First and foremost, Renaldo is a good coach, a talented coach that’s got a bright future in the NFL,” Fangio said. “His familiarity with me and the system and what we do was important to me. But, regardless of that, just his ability to be a great coach is what attracted me.”

During his time off from coaching, Fangio studied game tapes throughout the season, visited family in the Northeast and played golf. Fangio also served as a consultant to Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni while the club prepared for the NFC championship game and Super Bowl.

“It was an interesting year, one I would recommend for anybody to do it at some point,” Fangio said. “But in this business you can’t do it too often.”

Now, Fangio directs his entire attention to helping the Dolphins defense become a comparable component to their offense.

“You have to fit the scheme to the players that you have while also factoring in the opponents that you’re playing,” Fangio said. “Hopefully we will be a team that would keep the points down and put our offense in a position to score points for us.

“I’m not a buzzword guy. You want to play good defense and what’s good defense? Keep them out of the end zone.”

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