The architect of a Bears defense that has shown marked improvement the past few years will return to lead the unit under new head coach Matt Nagy.
The Bears announced Friday that veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will continue to serve in the same role he filled the past three seasons under head coach John Fox.
“I’m very happy to be back to continue to try to improve the Bears and get the Bears back to being relevant again in the NFL,” Fangio said. “I think the NFL is a much better league when the Bears are in the hunt and I want to be a part of that when we do get back into the hunt.
“I think Matt’s been a great hire. I think he’ll do his job—everything he can—to get us back in the hunt and I’m excited to work with him moving forward.”
Fangio, who was the first of six candidates to interview with general manager Ryan Pace for the vacant head-coaching position, has been lauded for his work with the Bears defense.
Fangio helped transform a unit that had ranked 30th in the NFL in total yards in each of the two years before he arrived into a defense that finished 14th in 2015, 15th in 2016 and 10th in 2017. This past season Fangio led a unit that ranked ninth in the league in fewest points allowed and recorded 42 sacks, the second most by the Bears in the past 20 years.
Fangio’s performance in 2017 was even more impressive given that he lost several key players throughout the season. Among those who finished the year on injured reserve were safety Quintin Demps; outside linebackers Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young; inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman; and defensive end Mitch Unrein.
The day after the regular season ended, Bears players praised Fangio for the work he’s done.
“He’s a great coach,” said outside linebacker Lamarr Houston. “He teaches you a lot about football. He’s very methodical in his teaching. He wants you to understand, and he holds you to a standard that you have to meet every Sunday. You can appreciate that as a player.”
“Vic is a huge part of why we were pretty good this year on defense,” added cornerback Prince Amukamara. “I feel like he’s a mastermind, one of the smartest DCs, most-detailed DCs I’ve been around. It’s hard to make him smile, but when he smiles you know it’s a good thing. Guys love him. We respect him.”
Fangio has spent 31 seasons as an NFL coach, including 18 as a defensive coordinator with the Panthers (1995-98), Colts (1999-2001), Texans (2002-05), 49ers (2011-14) and Bears.
In each of Fangio’s four seasons with the 49ers, they ranked in the top 10 in the league in points and yards. Under his tutelage, five players were named first-team All-Pro: Linebackers NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, tackle Justin Smith and safety Dashon Goldson.