The Bears defense is currently first in Football Outsiders DVOA. They’re first in total yards allowed in the NFL. They have football’s first-ranked rushing defense, and are eighth-best against the pass. Only the Browns have forced more takeaways with 15 to the Bears’ 11. No one has forced more three-and-outs than Chicago. This is firmly, at least based on a four-game sample size, pro football’s best defense.
None of that matters to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
On Thursday at Halas Hall, reporters asked Fangio what he thinks of the Bears’ current defense, and whether he ebbs and flows with the team’s successes and failures. Knowing how the old school 60-year-old normally thinks in regards to his players and roster, the answers should have been predictable.
“No,” said Fangio on whether he gets joy derived from the regular year. “It sounds like you guys already knew the answer to that,” as the press room laughed.
Fangio has been around the NFL too long to let himself get caught up in the roller coaster emotions of a season on a week-to-week basis. If he did that, his NFL coaching career of over a quarter century with the Saints, Panthers, Colts, Texans, Ravens, 49ers, and now Bears wouldn’t nearly have lasted as long. It’s an even-keeled demeanor that’s served the veteran coach well.
“I truly am a one-game-at-a-time guy,” Fangio continued. “I don’t get over-excited, over-anxious to play a division opponent, a conference opponent over an AFC opponent because I think they all count the same.”
“The first order of business is your record. I think people sometimes lose sight of that. These games that you play, they all count the same.”
It’s through looking at every matchup through the same prism that Fangio has become one of the NFL’s most highly-regarded defensive coordinators. It’s through a mentality of never being satisfied that he’s garnered any success, as striking as it may to be some on the outside. Even getting a nice winning streak going doesn’t get the juices flowing as much as falling in defeat.
“I wish I did. Trust me,” said Fangio about his lack of thrills in winning consecutive games. “The pain of losing does not equal the excitement of winning.”
The only way Fangio would likely ever be truly satisfied with the Bears and how his defense is playing, is if they won the Super Bowl. In light of that scenario, it’s fair to wonder if Fangio would actually finally put his feet up and relax. Of whether he’d do something like light a cigar and perhaps ... smile.
A solid hunch says that Fangio would be more likely to continue working on preparations for next season, rather than revel in a title completely. The great ones all have their own strange but unique routines, after all. A routine of never being satisfied.
Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network (subscribe here!), the managing editor of Windy City Gridiron, and writes for a host of other fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.