The Chicago Bears hired a seasoned defensive coordinator on Tuesday in Vic Fangio, according to CBS Sports.
Fangio replaces Mel Tucker, who led the Bears to two of the worst seasons in franchise history as they ranked 30th overall in 2013 and 2014. Fangio chose the Bears over Washington who interviewed him for their defensive coordinator job this past weekend.
Well before Tucker was struggling in Chicago alongside Marc Trestman and Co., Fangio was coaching defenses at a high-level.
As the defensive coordinator of the 49ers, his unit ranked fourth, third, fifth and fifth in his four seasons in San Francisco.
To rank as high as the 49ers did in 2014 was impressive considering three of their main stars were out for the most of the season (Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith).
Prior to entering the NFL in 1986, Fangio served as a defensive assistant coach in the USFL under Jim Mora Sr. and alongside now Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Fangio was the New Orleans Saints linebackers coach from 1986-1994 alongside Capers once again. He then followed Capers to expansion franchises Carolina (1995-98) and Houston (2002-05) while stopping in Indianapolis (1999-01) in between.
The 56-year-old has nearly 30 years of NFL coaching experience much like his new head coach John Fox, who entered the league three years after Fangio. 15 of the 29 years come as a defensive coordinator.
It’s not yet known if the Bears will switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme over the 4-3. Fangio has coached a 3-4 scheme the past four seasons in San Francisco and years previously with Baltimore. That decision should be made rather soon with Fangio now in the fold.
Fangio has been interviewed for head coaching jobs in the past. In 1997, Fangio was one of the finalists for the job in San Diego, but the Chargers chose Kevin Gilbride. Washington initially asked to interview him last off-season as one of 11 candidates considered for the job, but Jay Gruden was hired 10 days before San Francisco officially ended their season.
The respect level for Fangio is tremendous around the league and it started rather early in his career with the Colts. The Indianapolis defense ranked 15th, 21st and 29th in his three seasons there. But quite frankly the talent level on defense wasn’t very good.
General manager Bill Polian advised then-coach Jim Mora Sr. to fire Fangio, but Mora stuck by his defensive coordinator. Soon thereafter the entire coaching staff was let go.
From 2006-2009, Fangio was an assistant defensive coach in Baltimore before joining Jim Harbaugh at Stanford as the defensive coordinator for the 2010 season.
“A lot of coaches tell you things that make you feel good,” said former 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers via the Sacramento Bee. “Coach Vic doesn’t do that. He’s not going to tell you what you want to hear, he’s going to tell it to you straight. He’s not going to tell you one thing and then tell the GM something else.”
Fangio’s defenses have ranked in the top 10 five times in takeaways, including a No. 1 ranking with a league-high 35 turnovers produced in 2011.
In his second year as a defensive coordinator (1996), he guided the Panthers to an NFC West title and an NFC Championship game in just their second year in the NFL. Carolina’s defense allowed only 218 points on the year, ranking second in the league.
Fangio will bring this defense out of the cellar that it has found themselves in the past two seasons. Yes, the talent needs to improve, but with a better coach and a better scheme that will do wonders to start.
Fox and Fangio provide tons of leadership and knowledge that the Bears did not have as of a late. This off-season has gone better than planned for the Bears as new general manager Ryan Pace, Fox and Fangio all provide legitimate reasons to be more optimistic.
Fangio joins special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers as the first two coaches to be hired under John Fox in Chicago.
Sources told the Chicago-Sun Times that the Bears have let special teams assistant Dwyane Stukes, tight ends coach Andy Bischoff and linebackers coach Reggie Herring out of their contracts.
Thoughts on the Bears hiring of Vic Fangio as the new defensive coordinator?
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