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."