When Ryan Pace was asked about Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio’s future and whether or not he would be a candidate for the open head coach position, the Bears’ GM played it coy and gave a non-answer. Days later, it turns out Fangio was on the list of candidates after all:
#Bears GM Ryan Pace interviewed Vic Fangio for the head coaching position today.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 3, 2018
Welcome to the party, pal.
Fangio’s contract expired at the end of the season, so he’s currently a free agent and expected to be one of the most highly sought-after assistants on the open market. Indeed, under Fangio, the Bears defense transformed into one of the league’s best – finishing 10th in yards allowed and ninth in scoring defense – despite numerous injuries to starters at each level of the unit. And while the group didn’t create as many turnovers as Fangio would’ve otherwise liked, the defense’s ranking in that category jumped from 32nd to 13th over the past two years.
If you recall, the Bears brought Fangio in when they hired John Fox in 2015. He previously served as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh, a position he also held while with Harbaugh at Stanford. So considering the mess he inherited when taking over for Mel Tucker, Fangio has definitely earned his spot in the interview process.
Fangio joins fellow defensive coordinators Steve Wilks (Panthers) and George Edwards (Vikings) as the – so far – three coaching candidates with a defensive background. The 59-year-old defensive leader doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of a young offensive guru, but the Bears aren’t in a position to flatly say “no” to any candidate with experience – especially one who orchestrated this team’s defensive turnaround.
The Green Bay Packers were expected to make a run at Fangio for their open defensive coordinator position, but if they manage to fill that position with an in-house candidate or someone who isn’t Fangio, the Bears could possibly retain their top defensive mind with a raise and a promotion. Fangio’s status will be worth following as the coaching carousel picks up, that’s for sure.