Last week, in his final press conference of 2017, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was asked about what he’s seen from Mitchell Trubisky this year.
“I think he’s grown,” Fangio said. “I think he’s proven the game is not too big for him. I think he’s proven that he can play the game. He’s exhibited talent, which is important, and some quarterback intangibles. So hopefully he’ll continue to improve.”
Fangio likely expanded on his thoughts on the former No. 2 pick during his interview with Bears general manager Ryan Pace on Wednesday. But Fangio is a no-nonsense guy who rarely, if ever, engages in empty platitudes with the media. He’s seen Trubisky practice against his defense, and while he’s a lifelong defensive coach, probably has an idea of what could help continue to grow the most important Bears player into a true franchise quarterback.
If that were part of Fangio’s pitch, it’s a good start. But what the 59-year-old Fangio has done with the Bears’ defense in the last three years is his biggest selling point.
Pace on Monday pointed to Fangio’s work in getting the Bears to finish 10th in total defense in 2017. The Bears also finished ninth in points (20) and 14th in defensive DVOA, despite losing a number of players (Jerrell Freeman, Quintin Demps, Willie Young and Leonard Floyd, among others) to injuries.
“He’s a great coach,” linebacker Lamarr Houston said. “Even though we didn’t have the best record, the defense did have a lot of good stats. That goes to show his worth as a coach.”
No player improved more in 2017 under Fangio than Kyle Fuller, who said the defensive coordinator could be a head coach “for sure."
“He’s been around the league for a long time,” Fuller continued. “He’s seen a lot. He’s been through a lot. It’s definitely something that he could, you know, provide for a team, players like myself.”
Fellow cornerback Prince Amukamara was similarly effusive in his praise for Fangio.
“Vic is a huge part of why we were pretty good this year on defense,” Amukamara said. “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. If I was here, I’d hope he stays.”
And linebacker Leonard Floyd said he’s had a “great experience” working with Fangio in the last two years.
“He’s a great coach, a great defensive-minded coach,” Floyd said. “He’s always got little things he could tell you to help you do better and make plays. He’s just an overall great coach and great person.”
All these well-wishes and praise may not be a significant factor for Bears management, though (which Floyd understood — “I don’t really run nothing much in the building, but that’s a great guy,” he said). If the No. 1 factor for the Bears is finding the right coach for Trubisky, a defensive guy like Fangio may not be it.
But the Bears didn’t just owe Fangio a look — he earned that look, and Pace would’ve been foolish to not listen to Fangio’s pitch.
“He gets credit for (the defensive success) and we’ve had a lot of turnover and change on defense over the last three years,” Pace said. “I think the world of Vic.”