Bears

'It's all business': Matt Nagy and the Bears aren't feeling sentimental as they prepare to go up against Vic Fangio

'It's all business': Matt Nagy and the Bears aren't feeling sentimental as they prepare to go up against Vic Fangio

Khalil Mack called him an evil genius. Tarik Cohen called him a mob boss. 

Now, as the Bears begin to prepare for this Sunday's game in Denver, they're only calling Broncos' head coach Vic Fangio one thing: this week's challenge. 

"It’s all business," Matt Nagy said on Monday afternoon. "He’s not worried about us right now. He’s worried about that team in Oakland. So once that hits for him, they’ll be moving forward." 

Fangio, of course, was the Bears' defensive coordinator from 2015-2018. Widely credited for turning the Bears' defense into the juggernaut it is today, he inherited a group that finished the 2014 season dead last (32nd) in Defensive DVOA. When Fangio left Halas Hall to take the Broncos job in January 2019? The unit ranked 1st. 

"He was a guy who has so much experience that he can hang his hat on," Nagy added. "And he’s been successful in a lot of different places. So for me, coming in as a younger coach – and a younger head coach at that – being able to rely on him for situational football and just kind of say, hey, how would you look at this formation or this personnel grouping? How would you attack it? But really moreso than anything, it was just trusting and believing the advice that he gave." 

After spending the better part of three decades in various defensive assistant roles, Fangio's gig with the Broncos is his first as a head coach. And if the narrative of a first-year coach, facing his old team, in the 2nd week of the season, sounds too good to be true, the Bears will remind you that yeah, it is. 

"One of the things I'll say is he knows the guys," safety Eddie Jackson said. "He knows the type of players we have here, going up against our offense in practices and things like that. And also the type of guys we have on defense, he knows our strengths and also our defenses. It's going to be a formidable one, a tough one, you know, another tough one." 

It's true that Fangio oversaw the arrival of most of the Bears' current defensive starters; the only guys he inherited that are still playing meaningful snaps are cornerback Kyle Fuller and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman. It never hurts to be thoroughly familiar with your opponent, but Nagy and the Bears don't expect that to tip the scales in one way or another. 

"I think you know going against each other for most of the training camp last year and then just talking philosophy, in general, you have that," Nagy added. "But he's with new players and I'm sure he's changed a few things here or there. So that'll be the biggest question from everybody – you know how does Vic attack us, how do we attack him?

But in the end, it really comes down to the players on both sides. And there will be some chess match going on between both, but we have a lot of respect for him. The players do, and I just think schematically it'll be interesting."

Week 3 injury report: Eddy Pineiro questionable

Week 3 injury report: Eddy Pineiro questionable

It appears the Bears will face a little more uncertainty in Monday night's contest with the Redskins than originally anticipated. The team released an updated Week 3 injury report Saturday that lists four key players -- Trey Burton (groin), Eddie Jackson (shoulder/knee), Kyle Long (hip) and, in a late-week turn of events, Eddy Pineiro (knee) -- as questionable:

Eddie Goldman, who was limited in practice on Thursday with an oblique injury, was a full participant Friday and Saturday and does not have an injury designation in the most recent report.

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Eddy Pineiro’s leg injury throws Bears’ kicking status into flux, again

Eddy Pineiro’s leg injury throws Bears’ kicking status into flux, again

Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro was a surprise addition to the team’s injury report Saturday afternoon, and is officially listed as questionable for Monday night’s game against Washington with a right leg injury.

Coach Matt Nagy sounded optimistic the injury is “minor” in nature, and said despite feeling some pain Pineiro did kick in practice on Saturday. But the mere inclusion of him on the injury report raises concerns about the Bears’ kicking situation only six days after it appeared to have been solved with Pineiro’s game-winning 53-yard kick against the Denver Broncos.

“I think what we’ve got to do as these days go by let’s just see where he’s at,” Nagy said. “I’m going to be on the cautious side with him and we’ll just kind of feel out the pain part and if it’s something that’s going to affect him, then we’ll have a decision to make. If not — hopefully he’ll be okay.”

Nagy said the injury occurred in the weight room at Halas Hall, and stressed the cautious approach he and the Bears’ training staff is taking to Pineiro. And the Bears’ coach consistently presented an optimistic outlook for Pineiro when answering questions from the media on Saturday.

Still, if Pineiro cannot play on Monday, the Bears will be in a bind. Punter Pat O’Donnell has never attempted a field goal in his NFL or college career, though Nagy did say O’Donnell “has some experience.” The most recent memory of O’Donnell working on field goals came during halftime of a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, when then-kicker Cairo Santos was hurt, though he didn’t attempt a kick in the second half of that contest. 

“I don’t want to rush to judgment yet,” Nagy said. “That’s not where we’re at. I really do think that we’ll be okay. We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything the right way with him, with his pain, and we’ve got to communicate with him, see how he feels, and it’s probably going to be one of those deals where in a couple days where he’s at and we’ve got to make a decision.”

So all of a sudden, Pineiro’s status will be critical to monitor in the hours leading up to Monday night’s game (the Bears have to submit inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff). If Pineiro is unable to play, will the Bears actually use O’Donnell for field goals? Or will Nagy lean into his aggressive nature and try to convert fourth downs and two-point conversions?

It feels disappointing for the Bears to even have to entertain these questions at this point. If Nagy’s optimism proves to be founded, the Bears won’t have an issue Monday night. But if they do, it’ll put plenty of pressure on a sputtering offense to make sure a game against a winless team doesn’t come down to another kick.

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