Affter hiring Matt Nagy as their new head coach, the Chicago Bears hoped to retain Vic Fangio as the team’s defensive coordinator.
That possibility remains, but the Bears will have some stiff competition for his services, as Fangio – a highly sought after coach – officially became a free agent at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday. But if Fangio doesn’t return to Chicago for a fourth year at Soldier Field, the Bears will need to come up with a back-up plan to lead their defense next season.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has one candidate who could be under consideration:
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) January 9, 2018
Gus Bradley, who, like Fangio, is a free agent, is best known for his four-year run with the Seattle Seahawks as Pete Carroll’s defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012. He parlayed the final two years of Seattle’s ranking in the top 10 in yards, points, and takeaways into a four-year run as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach. But after a 14-48 record as head coach, Bradley was fired and returned to his defensive coordinator roots with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017.
For what it’s worth, Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn would prefer to have Bradley back with the team in 2018.
“I know some guys, the contracts are up. We’re working on that right now,” Lynn told the Associated Press earlier in January. “We’re trying to keep this staff together, this nucleus together, because I think we got better as a coaching staff as the season went on.”
The Chargers were arguably the best team not to make the playoffs in 2017 and would have been a tough out (in part) because of their defense. The Bradley-led group finished third in scoring defense, sixth in takeaways, and 15th in yards allowed.
Bradley’s bunch boasted two of 10 highest-graded edge rushers at Pro Football Focus in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, as well as three top-15 cornerbacks with top-rated Casey Heyward leading the way, Trevor Williams ranking 10th, and rookie Desmond King checking in at 13th.
The best-case scenario would be Fangio returning to run a defense he built into a top-10 group and see through the end of the rebuild. But if Fangio decides to move on, Bradley seems like a good candidate to possibly fall back on. And considering Nagy has no experience handling a coaching staff, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have a former head coach leading the defense in 2018.