How Mack and Fangio helped Bears in free agency this year


Familiarity goes a long way in making anyone feel comfortable in almost any situation. For new Bears pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu, familiarity was a big reason he decided to come to Chicago. And a lot of that familiarity came from a man who hasn’t been in Halas Hall since the 2018 season.

“The relationship between (Vic) Fangio and that connection to Chicago,with their defense being similar, just the guys on the unit, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me,” Attaochu said.

That’s not to say Fangio hyped up the Bears when Attaochu went on his free agency tour. Attaochu simply looked at both defenses and put two-and-two together.

“I just kinda knew the systems were similar,” Attaochu said. “So I knew there would be a lot of carryover from his system in Denver to here in Chicago.”

Now that he is here in Chicago, with veteran minicamp and a couple of days of training camp under his belt, Attaochu has added his voice to the chorus of Bears players who have said new defensive coordinator Sean Desai feels familiar to Fangio, too.

“Just as far as the teaching aspect of getting all the guys on the same page,” Attaochu said. “We’ve got some really good players, and (Desai’s) making the system as easy as possible for everyone, regardless of who’s in there. That was one thing that was very obvious. In Denver, even with our injuries, the system allowed us to be productive, so I think that’s the same thing Sean’s trying to build here.”


Of course it helps when one of the premier players in the league, Khalil Mack, specifically recruits you to join the squad, too.

“It’s just great to be in the same building as him,” Attaochu said. “Been in the league since 2014, so we came in the same year. I was from Georgia Tech and I followed his career. We’ve kinda followed each other. Even as far as coming here, he made it clear to me that he would love to have me here in Chicago with him, so I’m happy to be in this building.”

The Bears hope all this familiarity turns into quarterback sacks, as that’s one phase of the defense that will need to improve. Over the past two seasons, the team has notched 32 and 35 sacks, good for T-24th and 17th in the league. Those are certainly not elite numbers, and are a big drop off from 2018, when the Bears were tied for third-best in the league with 50 sacks. Getting to the quarterback makes everything look better on defense, and added pressure, even without notching the sack, should help the secondary create turnovers as well.

And while Attaochu might be feeling familiar in Chicago, he wants to make sure his coaches are familiar with him too.

“Right now I’m focused on training camp and being the best I can be and proving myself to the coaches and earning their trust. As far as getting to the quarterback, that’s my primary job. Whenever I’m in there, that’s gonna be my ultimate motive.”

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