It didn’t take long for Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy to address the elephant in the room.
“Vic (Fangio) and I have talked. We understand the situation,” Nagy said when asked about the status of the free agent defensive coordinator. “That’s something we’re going to attack full steam ahead. We’re going to make a clear decision on what’s best for Vic and what’s best for this organization.”
Fangio helped rebuild the Bears’ defense from a historically bad group to one of the league’s best and earned the first interview GM Ryan Pace gave for the open head-coaching position. That Nagy has already spoken with Fangio suggests a mutual respect between the two parties and further confirms the Bears’ serious interest in retaining their defensive coordinator. And for what it’s worth, Kansas City runs a 3-4 defensive alignment, so it’s possible for Chicago to maintain some sense of stability and familiarity if Fangio doesn’t return.
But now that he is free to talk to any team he wants, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the Green Bay Packers consider Fangio to be their top target. The Cincinnati Bengals wanted to interview Fangio for their open position, but the Bears denied their request. Cincinnati has since moved on and hired Teryl Austin away form the Detroit Lions.
In the end, Fangio’s role in the transformation of one of the league’s worst defenses into one of its best will only help boost his stock on the free agent market.
When asked about the potential return of other members of what was John Fox’s staff, Nagy was non-committal and said he wasn’t at that point of the process yet. Still, we should soon know the direction of the coaching staff once Nagy gets settled in.
GM Ryan Pace spoke with the media after Nagy’s press conference and offered up an update to the Fangio situation:
#Bears GM Ryan Pace on now-free-agent DC Vic Fangio: "We're talking to Vic right now. We'll see what happens."
— Bob LeGere (@BobLeGere) January 9, 2018
Pace on Fangio: “You guys know I have a ton of respect for Vic. We’re talking to Vic right now and we’re going to let the process play out.”
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 9, 2018
It sounds like it’s a fluid situation. Fangio has all the leverage in the situation, but it doesn’t appear as if anything has been ruled out.