The Bears organization was hosed down with criticism after the signing of Ray McDonald in March given the defensive tackle’s background that include domestic violence incidents. The ridicule went super-nova in May when McDonald was involved in another episode, whereupon the Bears released him.
At the time of the signing, Chairman George McCaskey detailed the vetting process. The decision was made to give McDonald another chance, which he squandered.
The decision also was made with considerable weight given to the positive recommendation of Vic Fangio, now the Bears’ defensive coordinator but previously McDonald’s coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers. Fangio effective vouched for McDonald.
On Friday, Fangio confirmed that he’d made the recommendation, didn’t second-guess himself for the simple reason that it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
“Obviously I was disappointed, for everybody involved: Ray, us, the people on the other side out there in California,” Fangio said. “I don't regret trying to vouch for him, at the time I believed it was the right thing to do.”
Fangio showed a trace of irritation at the scalding that McCaskey, GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox took for the second chance: “The only thing that I regret is that because it didn't work out, and the club put their faith in my recommendation, and George and Ryan and John took some hits from you [media] guys and you really should've been hitting me and not them. So that's the only part I regret. Is that the guys above me took the hits for it.”
Since the media was not permitted to speak with Fangio for the last three months – since prior to McDonald’s release – Fangio’s admonishment of the media was mis-directed.
More to a bigger point, Fangio shouldn’t have been hammered any more than the Bears for making a wrong second-chance call. And the very simple fact is that the Bears promptly cut ties with McDonald after the latest incident. Action, reaction.
Second-guessing the organization, Fangio or anyone else is missing that bigger point. Fangio or McCaskey or Pace or Fox didn’t foul up.
That honor belongs to Ray McDonald. Period.
If there was any question how high or where the bar is being set by the John Fox coaching staff, there shouldn’t be after an amusing but very telling comment by Vic Fangio on Friday.
The defensive coordinator had encouraging things to say about young linemen Ego Ferguson and Eddie Goldman, both spending more and more time with the No. 1 defense. But those who knew Fangio from his San Francisco 49ers tenure were very clear that Fangio is nothing if not blunt and forthright, and he proceeded to be just that with his defensive line.
Fangio stated that right now the Bears have only one really good defensive lineman – Jeremiah Ratliff. The problem as Fangio sees it is that the Bears are playing a 3-4, not a 1-5-5 or whatever, so “we need three of them.” Meaning: To Fangio, where Ratliff lines up – the eye test says it will be one of the five-techniques – doesn’t particularly matter big-picture if there aren’t three of him or comparables. As strong as Ferguson and Goldman have been, they’re not “really good,” and that’s what “really good” defenses require.
No false-positives from Fangio. Which makes the very upbeat comments on the play of Shea McClellin carry a strong ring of honest appraisal. And since Fangio, as well as John Fox, have the results to give their critiques ample cred.