The Chicago Bears made a number of moves this offseason to set themselves up for more success in 2018, but the most important of all may have been retaining defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The Bears’ defense has played well during the three years Fangio has been in charge, so keeping some continuity was important as the rebuild transitions to the next phase for the franchise.
“So when you have that continuity and the language stays the same, meaning the plays, it just becomes second nature,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said via the Daily Herald. “Guys play faster. Guys know what to expect.”
Head coach Matt Nagy not only brought Fangio back, but they retained key members of the defensive staff to keep the defensive think-tank intact. “Right now there’s a trust from one another because they’ve been together,” Nagy said via the Daily Herald. “There’s that experience factor, which is good. And they believe what they’ve got going on with Vic’s system.”
When analysts mention all of Chicago’s upgrades, and there were several, Fangio is often an afterthought, but when the Bears’ players talk, Fangio is frequently mentioned.
“I was excited to have Vic back,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “I was kind of nervous about him leaving. I feel like I really wanted him back.”
The 59-year old Fangio has been coaching football in some way, shape, or form since 1979, so there’s nothing he hasn’t seen. ”He’s one of our leaders and he’s one of the guys we can go to for calls and advice on things,” Trevathan added.
Before the Bears brought Fangio back, rumors were circulating that there was mutual interest between he and the Green Bay Packers, but Nagy made him a top priority and he signed a new three-year deal.
“That was one of the things (I was) stressing about last season: being a rookie and (then) coming in (this) year and the coaches are going to change,” Eddie Jackson said via the Chicago Tribune. “When everybody came back, it was a relief. We can really get back to work.”
With Fangio and his staff running the defensive side of things, they should be ahead of the new offensive install.
“I love the mastermind that Vic is,” Amukamara said via the Chicago Tribune. “He’s probably one of the most detailed defensive coordinators I’ve ever been a part of. It just feels like he calls the right play every down. That’s probably an exaggeration, but it’s very, very rare that he (doesn’t) put us in the best position to be successful.”
Amukamara added more praise via the Bears website, “I really love Vic’s defense and how he calls the defense.”
Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was “juiced” that Fangio was brought back, saying via the Tribune that, “I really embrace him as our defensive coordinator.”
Rookie Roquan Smith is excited to play in Fangio’s scheme as well. “He blitzes ‘backers. He puts them in the best possible situations to make plays.”
Free agent pick up Aaron Lynch signed with the Bears because of Fangio. “His mentorship, the man that he is, his background, it’s just somebody you kind of like you want to impress him,” said Lynch via the Chicago Sun Times. “You go out there and you play every down for your team and your coaches and Vic has that type of respect, that type of vibe, where you want to go out there and do your best because you’re going to get the best from your coach.”
Fangio hasn’t helped the Bears to the same level of success he had while coordinating San Francisco's defense from 2011 to 2014, but the talent has also been a bit below what he had with the 49ers. But with a few new rookies added to the mix, some young veterans growing up as football players, and the overall familiarity with the scheme will surely boost the play of the unit in 2018.