BOURBONNAIS — Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is entering his third year with the Bears. Only two — maybe three — of his starters can say the same.
There’s a limit to the Bears’ sense of continuity entering a must-win season, but Fangio is hoping last season provided, at least for a while, a sense of momentum.
“I thought for the most part we played hard, hung in there tough under adverse situations and were really, in some ways — although the record sucked — making progress,” Fangio said Friday at Olivet Nazrene University. “But then the last three games . . . the dam broke on us.”
The Bears allowed 109 points in those three games and lost by a combined 51 points.
Thanks to the team signing two new starting cornerbacks and at least one safety in the offseason, Fangio has reason for optimism — though he won’t say it.
“When you’re coming off 3-13, you don’t have the right to predict anything,” he said.
That includes his future.
Fangio is heading into the final year of the three-year contract he signed shortly after coach John Fox was hired. He said he’s not worried about his life beyond this season.
“Obviously, every year has an effect on what happens, good or bad,” he said. “I’m just hopeful someone will want me next year, that’s all.”
Including the Bears?
“Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. For sure. Oh, yeah,” he said. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. I’m not looking to go anywhere.”
Fangio’s continued presence — that’s six straight “yeahs,” for those keeping score — would be a boon for the Bears. He has had a tremendous influence on Leonard Floyd, the Bears’ first-round pick from a year ago, who could be a Pro Bowl edge rusher as soon as this season.
Willie Young and Lamarr Houston each transitioned from defensive end during Fangio’s first year and are happy to see him taking a more hands-on approach with the position group he knows best, outside linebacker.
“When you have the guy who invented all of this giving you that information, it’s simplified, but it’s clearer,” Young said. “And that makes a big difference when you have a guy like myself transitioning from a 4-3.”
Fangio said his outside linebacker focus — he’ll work alongside first-year coach Brandon Staley, the position coach — is nothing new. Before becoming a pro coordinator, he coached the “Dome Patrol,” the notorious Saints linebacker corps that sent four players to the Pro Bowl in 1992.
His secret: explaining to the players why they’re asked to do certain things.
“I just like having it hands-on and hearing it come from my mouth,” he said. “They hear the whys and the reasons for everything we do.”
Fangio said the Bears “got a little spike” in talent but know they need difference-makers. He’s not sure what to expect from Pernell McPhee, who started training camp on the physically unable-to-perform list and had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Floyd’s main candidates to pop: Floyd, defensive linemen Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks and, he hopes, either cornerback Prince Amukamara or Marcus Cooper. If half of those players hit, the defense will be improved.
“We stress knowing what to do, do it the right way, and play as hard as you can,” he said. “If we’re talented enough, we’ll have good results, and that’s it.”
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