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Vic Fangio: "I don't take it personal."

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The Bears introduced their coordinators on Thursday. From defensive continuity, to offensive transitioning, some thoughts from the transparent press conference.

Chicago Bears

With all due respect to the magnetic Matt Nagy, even he knew to take a step aside on Thursday. His time to gloat and be "fired up" will come along. This was about introducing Nagy's first primary staff in offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, grizzled defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and the returning (after a seven-year hiatus) special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Following the presser that gave one-on-one time with each member of Nagy's leadership trio, it became apparent the Bears have quite the enthusiastic Knights Of The Roundtable gathered up. A group that's ready to get down to business and restoring a tradition.

(It's also clear that they're definitively going with "Mitchell" in reference to Trubisky given the way the coaches spoke, but that's neither here nor there.)

Here are thoughts on what each of Helfrich, Fangio, and Tabor discussed when it was their time to shine in front of the microphone.


Transitioning to the NFL

The Bears haven't shied away from why they hired Matt Nagy. He's going to help implement plenty of run-pass options into his offense for the athletic Mitch Trubisky. By natural process of elimination, and as the Bears alluded to on Thursday, it's largely the same reason Helfrich was brought to help coordinate Nagy's offense.

This is going to be a mix-up of West Coast and modern spread concepts, primarily, that will hinge on how both Nagy and Helfrich adjust in their first big show NFL gigs.

For Helfrich in particular, having never coached at this level, he understands how crucial is it that he acclimates quickly as a coordinator and coach with the best football players on the planet. Oregon in college is a drastically different experience from the NFC North and Chicago. Expectations are higher, schemes are more complex, and the talent has picked up.

That doesn't mean Helfrich isn't prepared to make this a smooth transition. He'll use all of the assets at hand, including the more experienced Vic Fangio to assist him.

"I'm going to be in Vic's office quite a bit," said Helfrich of what he'll do when he needs some advice. A logical step anyone would undertake.

After all, this is someone in Fangio that Helfrich tremendously respects. As he not only referenced how excited he was about the Bears' defense under him over and over, but also how glad he is that he doesn't have to coach against him once more.

"I'm excited not to get my teeth kicked in by Vic like the good old days," said Helfrich, making light of when Fangio was Stanford's defensive coordinator.

Indeed, the Bears may have quite the May and November pair of coordinators here. Luckily they get to work side by side now.

Trubisky's ability and track record

Since he won't be calling the plays, Helfrich's first and immediate goal will concern properly bringing along Trubisky as the face of the franchise. Needless to say, he's been impressed by what he's been able to evaluate out of the young quarterback so far.

"You can tell a quarterback is coachable by his eyes and feet. They're deliberate," said Helfrich of how Trubisky impresses him. "The other thing was his accuracy, and taking care of the football."

Without a doubt, the greatest determining factors to a quarterback's eventual success are how his feet and mechanics tie to his arm. Trubisky, the accurate passer and decisive passer he is, has enough of a baseline to improve much in this aspect. This is an area where Helfrich's expertise with quarterbacks (such as Marcus Mariota in college) can pay off with long-term dividends for the Bears.

To Helfrich's credit, despite his green status in the NFL, he knows Trubisky's development isn't going to be without it's bumps regardless of his obvious talent. That's not how this process works and it'll be the coordinator's job to minimize the rocky road and help Trubisky properly learn from mistakes.

"We talk about a flight simulator ... not everything is blue sky," said Helfrich in a creative metaphor for this Trubisky situation.

Quarterback development is rarely if ever linear. Nor is it always clear.


The love fest continues

I don't think its a stretch to call Fangio one of, if not the straightest arrow in the NFL. The extended defensive guru rarely minces words when speaking publicly and is as honest as you could wish for a football coach to be. The reason current Bears defensive players love him is on display all the time.

Which is why it's refreshing to see the veteran coach go through his adventurous week of negotiations with the Bears to return. And why it's heartening to hear him discuss the future of this Chicago defense.

All of that honesty means Fangio knows where the Bears stand - in relation to their 2017 performance - and how much farther they still have to go.

"I think it's wrong to paint that the defense was great and the rest of the team wasn't," said Fangio of last season. "If we were a great defense we’d have more than five wins."

Taking that next step will mean guys like Leonard Floyd and Eddie Jackson growing up before everyone's eyes, along with the rest of the defense being more available and consistent in general. It'll also mean evaluating where last year's team can improve, seeing the unpaved road.

For Fangio, it'll be his job to unlock their potential before anyone seriously mentions his name and Buddy Ryan's in the same breath. It doesn't sound like he's worried in the slightest about that prospect.

Negotiations are never personal

Fangio is, as I said it, a straight arrow. So you want to know everything about the roller coaster he put the Bears through in his three-year contract extension talks? He'll open up like a book. As many expected, the reasons for his return to Chicago all predicated on familiarity and unsurprisingly, potential. The Bears are on the cusp of something special. Fangio's defense will be a big boost for that standing.

Beyond the unfortunate lack of a membership at the nearby Conway Farms, or no shorter winters in Chicago as contract stipulations he mentioned he didn't get, Fangio sees sustainability in what the Bears are building. That's attractive for a respected coach seeking relevance, and an eventual championship (or few).

"It's about building something sustainable for six to seven years," said Fangio.

Thanks to Fangio's tutelage, the Bears defense just might play tremendously in that end of the bargain of his ambitious prognostication.

Trubisky also helped along Fangio's return, because the coordinator believes in what he can become as a player. Anything Fangio does on defense is irrelevant if Trubisky isn't elite. Based on his outward praise, Fangio clearly believes the Bears' quarterback is on his way to putting the team on his back.

"Mitchell is part of the equation because he has the chance to become a really good player,” said Fangio. "He has the talent ... and you need talent, particularly at that position."

Fangio's confidence in Trubisky won't be lost in the shuffle, here or in the future. Never forget complimentary football wins championships.

What was finally most interesting was how Fangio chose to illustrate his relationship with the Bears and Ryan Pace after not being promoted to head coach.

"I don't take it personal" in regards to being passed over means Fangio understands the NFL is a business. He knows his role. He gets how the power dynamic function because he's been around. In the end, it's unlikely he ever creates a huge schism in Halas Hall coaching relationships because of that maturity in having "been there". This isn't a loose cannon. This is someone who wants to win and is focused solely on that goal.


Goosebumps and the Bears

We couldn't get through two press conferences of a new staff before someone eventually spouted out cliches in Tabor ("it's the Bears"), but that's okay. He won over the Bears enough with his track record, and offered valuable insight on one of the team's most electric players to make up for that.

"He's a young (Darren) Sproles," said Tabor of Tarik Cohen, and how he factors into the return game on special teams.

Keep in mind, that's high praise from one of football's most nuanced special teams minds. This is Tabor's second stint with the Bears and the first time around he was able to coach both Danieal Manning and Devin Hester as quality returners. Comparing Cohen to the league's model for explosive but diminutive Swiss Army Knife backs in Sproles is not said by happen stance.

There are a lot of the expectations for the now Bears' sophomore to live up to on both offense and special teams. Tabor, from the outset, is setting the bar high for Cohen to reach.

In a fascinating nugget to that end, Cohen wasn't on the Browns' draft radar according to Tabor. "Uh, no, his name didn't come across my desk," said Tabor.

An indirect testament to Pace and the Bears' scouting staff for unearthing the former North Carolina A&T star out of the blue. To be fair, most of the NFL didn't see Cohen lying in the wings. Now he's a star that Tabor gets to mold as he sees fit.

In press conferences, the Bears are already 2-0 in 2018. Let the Fangio proposed "love fest" continue, because the games for this rambunctious bunch can't come soon enough.

Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron, and is a contributor to The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.