By Chris Emma–
(670 The Score) In the end, it was clear that Bears general manager Ryan Pace planned to hire an offensive-minded head coach for his team, and he did so by tabbing Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy as the team’s next head coach Monday. So, where does that leave a budding Chicago defense?
Monday marks the last day for Vic Fangio as the Bears’ defensive coordinator under his current contract. He’s set to become a coveted candidate for many defensive coordinator vacancies, most notably the one in Green Bay with the rival Packers. There was no initial indication to Fangio’s aspirations at the time of Nagy’s hiring on Monday morning, according to a source.
Nagy, who will officially be introduced as the Bears’ coach Tuesday, is reportedly hoping to retain Fangio on a new deal that would keep him as defensive coordinator. Hired by John Fox in January 2015, Fangio has overseen the transformation of the Bears defense, which ranked near the bottom of the league before his arrival.
In 2017, the Bears ranked ninth in allowing 20 points per game and 10th in total defense with 319.1 yards surrendered per game, a feat made more impressive given that the defense suffered several significant injuries during the course of the season. Players viewed that as a credit to Fangio, whose consistency allowed them to make progress during the season.
“Vic is extremely detailed,” veteran cornerback Prince Amukamra said. “He’s probably one of the most detailed DCs I’ve ever been around. He loves to go situation by situation and never leaves a stone unturned.”
Fangio, 59, was the first candidate interviewed by the Bears in their coaching search, a meeting that occurred last Wednesday. The opportunity as a head coach is something that has eluded Fangio during an accomplished career as a coordinator, and the meeting with the Bears was warranted, though he was considered a long shot for the job.
Fangio has built a strong reputation as the leader of defenses, including a turnaround with the 49ers before his arrival in Chicago. The respect from his Bears players has been evident during his three years with the team.
“Vic’s a mastermind,” cornerback Marcus Cooper said. “The commitment of time he puts into getting us ready is outstanding. It’s second to none. He just comes in so prepared.”
Whether Fangio wants to stay with the Bears — or start over elsewhere — remains to be seen. He’s believed to be one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the NFL and could serve as the ideal complement to a 39-year-old Nagy. In Los Angeles, longtime coordinator Wade Phillips proved to be a vital part of Sean McVay’s success in his first season.
Should Fangio opt to move on, Nagy could turn to someone from Andy Reid’s expansive coaching tree to fill the defensive coordinator role.