The Chicago Bears are apparently going to retain head coach John Fox after their awful season comes to a close, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio might be out. Chicago sports columnist Mike Mulligan is reporting Fangio could be out as a part of a “massive overhaul anticipated at the end of the season.” Mulligan did not seem to fully buy the rumor, but he had this anonymous quotation:
"It has to be some kind of philosophical thing like you saw in Minnesota,'' one league source said. "It's so out of left field, it might be absolutely correct.''
The Minnesota thing was offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s unexpected midseason departure. Fangio’s defense showed some improvement this season, but the unit has been ravaged by injuries and a suspension. Here is what Windy City Gridiron writer Jeff Berckes had to say about Fangio’s work this year:
I might take some heat for that because they aren't even a good defense right now. You have to appreciate that Bears fans expect violent, dominant defense as part of their identity. That was lost under the Marc Trestman hire where the Bears dropped to the bottom of the league in Defensive DVOA. Chicago has traditionally run a 4-3 scheme and Fangio wanted to convert the squad to a 3-4 unit. The Bears had very few pieces that obviously fit that scheme and the guys that have stuck around needed a lot of coaching up. In two offseasons, GM Ryan Pace and the coaching staff have flipped the front seven to be a strength of the team. When the front seven have been healthy and playing together, they have been a joy to watch. He has been able to coax flashes of solid play from young, undrafted talent in the secondary. If he is allowed to continue this rebuild, I'm excited to see what this unit will look like in years three and four. A play maker at Free Safety, some talent at corner, and one or two more guys in the defensive line rotation and this unit could carry us to the playoffs in...2018?
On the flip side, there have been times when the Bears seemingly have no answers for what the opposing offense is doing. Major pieces of that defense have been banged up and the talent gap between some of the starters and their backups is difficult to overcome, but sometimes the gameplan just simply seems wrong. The biggest criticism is the lack of turnovers. Chicago ranks 31st in takeaways and again, Chicago fans are used to ranking in the top 5 in the Lovie Smith era (2006 and 2012 led the league).
Let’s get one thing out of the way. No, I don’t think this means we might see Fangio replace current 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil. The 49ers defense has had numerous problems, but I am not entirely sure what this means for O’Neil’s future with the team. If Chip Kelly does decide to find a new DC, I’m guessing Fangio would not be a fan of returning to Santa Clara.
If O’Neil does end up getting fired, people have mentioned Gus Bradley if he is fired by Jacksonville. Any other names that you think would be worth getting in the mix? Again, nothing would surprise me as far as O’Neil potentially sticking around another year. But I’m curious what other names might be out there.