John Fox, Vic Fangio not seeing 'disaster' in Bears defense


John Fox, Vic Fangio not seeing 'disaster' in Bears defense

Talk is indeed very easy to come by, especially in minicamps. But putting coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in context for purposes of credibility:

The Denver Broncos went from 32nd in both points and yards allowed in 2010. Bringing in Fox, the Broncos improved to 20th in yards and 24th in points – and from four wins to eight, plus a playoff win with Tim Tebow – in one year.

[MORE - Draft, minicamps suggest what Fox, Pace think of Bears roster]

The San Francisco 49ers jumped from 16th in points and 13th in yardage to No. 2 and No. 4 respectively in Fangio’s first year, that under Jim Harbaugh.

With their respective credentials in mind, consider:

Three of the Bears’ first four draft picks were on offense. In each of his three drafts, former GM Phil Emery used at least two of his first three picks on defense, including 1-2-3 last year. (Which, parenthetically, makes the epic failures of the last two seasons even more glaring, but that’s not the point here.)

Yet with rush-linebacker Vic Beasley and cornerback Trae Waynes available – both ostensibly “need” areas coming out of the 2014 nightmare season – the Bears and GM Ryan Pace came out of this draft with just one “starter” on defense.

Coach John Fox Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio began their respective tenures at Denver and San Francisco with Top 10 picks pointed toward defensive linchpins. After an offseason that has brought in Sam Acho, Mason Foster, Jarvis Jenkins, Pernell McPhee and Antrel Rolle, no one was apparently pounding a table demanding help on that side of the ball.

Fangio has alluded to Jared Allen, Kyle Fuller, Shea McClellin and Christian Jones in unsolicited, very positive terms. Why that’s noteworthy is because the word on Fangio is that he is nothing if not brutally blunt in matters of performance.

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Meaning: If he didn’t like what he was seeing, he wouldn’t have provided false positives.

“It was told to me early on when I got here that they’ve given up more yards and points the last two years than anybody in the league,” Fangio said. “So we’re going to have to make our own building blocks. But I think any time you come to a new place, the first job is to make the players you already have better. That’s our job, No. 1, before you talk about free agency and the draft and whatnot. So we need to make the guys that we have here better.”

Bears Season in Review: Offensive line

Bears Season in Review: Offensive line

The Chicago Bears' offensive line was viewed as one of the team's biggest strengths at the start of the 2019 season. By the time the year came to an end, it was considered one of the club's biggest weaknesses. 

The most concerning issue with the offensive line's regression was that it wasn't isolated to a single player. All five starters played a part in the disappointing performance.

The biggest letdown came at right guard. Kyle Long, even when healthy, was a far cry from the player who at one time was considered one of the most talented offensive linemen in the league. His body failed him again, leading to another injury-shortened year that continued a streak of four straight seasons of nine games or less. Long decided to retire this offseason, leaving the Bears with a big void that GM Ryan Pace has to fill this offseason.

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Long was replaced by Rashaad Coward, and while Coward's play wasn't terrible, he isn't the long-term answer the Bears need in the starting lineup. 

Chicago didn't fare much better at offensive tackle, where Bobby Massie and Charles Leno, Jr. each had a season to forget. Massie earned the lowest Pro Football Focus grade of his career (63.2), while Leno, Jr. earned his second-worst (58.6). The offense didn't stand a chance as a result. It's unlikely either player will be replaced in 2020, but more depth (at the very least) is needed.

And let's not forget the drama at center and right guard, where Cody Whitehair and James Daniels were forced to switch positions midseason because of Daniels' struggles at the pivot. Both players fared well once the swap was made. Whitehair finished the year with the Bears' eighth-highest grade on offense from PFF, while Daniels' 70.3 was third-best.

NFL offenses simply don't stand a chance without a functional and consistent offensive line. The 2019 Bears are proof of that. But don't expect sweeping changes (sans right guard) to be made this offseason. Leno, Jr., Massie, Whitehair and Daniels will begin 2020 as starters, and there's a good chance Coward will too. There might be a chance to add a starting-quality player in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, and the Bears should take advantage of that opportunity if it presents itself. But with salary-cap issues and limited draft capital, Chicago may have little choice but to give this unit another season to prove they are, in fact, one of the better starting-fives in the NFC.

Pat McAfee thinks Cam Newton is the move the Bears should be making this offseason

Pat McAfee thinks Cam Newton is the move the Bears should be making this offseason

Recently on the always-light-hearted, analytical-bending Pat McAfee Show, the former Indianapolis Colts player turned radio host weighed in on the Bears’ decision to keep Mitch Trubisky under center for the upcoming season. McAfee believes it’s time the Bears climb back into relevancy by replacing Trubisky with former-MVP Cam Newton:

If I was the Chicago Bears, I would be trying to get Cam Newton. What's the worst that could happen? He stinks? You guys stink anyways. 

With a “what do you have to lose?” mantra, McAfee believes that the Bears should swap out Trubisky for the Panthers' star. Newton is not a free agent, however; it's possible his time with the Panthers could be up,  as it's been heavily-rumored that they'll trade him away this offseason. Newton was sidelined most of the 2019 season with back-to-back injuries, first in his shoulder, then his ankle. If they trade away Newton, the Panthers could allot the money to rebuilding their team around one of the league’s best running backs, Christian McCaffery.