The Vikings gave Mike Zimmer his only head-coaching job at 56.
Someone pointed out to Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio — who has been open about his desire to run a team one day — that it doesn’t often happen that way for coaches with graying hair.
“Especially,” Fangio said, “if they’re not coaching offense.”
With that, Fangio, 59, inadvertently stumbled upon perhaps the biggest reason he and coach John Fox are likely entering their last game with the Bears on Sunday.
They’ve had varying degrees of success — Fox has won 14 games in three seasons, while Fangio has helped improve the defense from inept to respectable — yet neither can accomplish the Bears’ major goal in making a change.
They can’t help transform Mitch Trubisky from an intriguing prospect to a franchise-changer. A franchise that traded four picks to move up and draft Trubisky must now devote similar resources to coaching him up. That falls on a coach with an offensive background. Just ask the Rams, who hired Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay, 31, to fix No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.
“Sure, I’d like [to be a head coach],” Fangio said Thursday, speaking generally. “But I don’t take it personal or think I’m any less better or less qualified than anybody else because certain people are looking for certain parameters in their searches.”
Whomever the Bears name as their next coach could try to convince Fangio to return. But Fangio’s decision to turn down a contract extension last offseason was likely strategic — one year after the Bears rebuffed the 49ers’ advances, Fangio will be free to work anywhere he’d like.
“I’m hoping that he’s back,” said defensive end Akiem Hicks, probably the team’s best player this season. “I gotta tell you, it’s no easy thing to install an entirely different defense. And then when you like the guy and you like how he puts things together during the week, I want him back. I’d love to be under him for the rest of my career. . . .
“I have no control over any of that, and neither does anybody else but the people that make the final decision. I hope that everybody’s here, and with what we have now, I hope we can go into the future and have a solid-performing team.”
Fangio said he wasn’t concerned that Black Monday was looming.
“My whole focus this week is on the game Sunday — and I know that sounds like a packaged answer, but it really is,” he said. “We’ll deal with next week when we need to deal with it. But I do think experience and longevity help me do that [compared to] some of the younger coaches.”
Special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, who coached under Fox with the Panthers and Broncos, said his boss is the same way.
‘‘[Fox] is the same guy in the offseason as in season, and he’s really consistent in that,” he said. “You know what you’re going to get out of him.”
Game day is a bit different, he said, because Fox is overseeing the entire team and doesn’t have time to explain his every decision. Rodgers knows to follow orders.
“I don’t take anything the head coach says as a suggestion,” he said.
That’s why the responsibility for the Bears’ 5-10 season ultimately falls on Fox. Fangio might never know that responsibility.
They figure to be in the same boat Monday nonetheless.
“My ultimate dream when I got into coaching was to be a high school head coach and live happily ever after,” Fangio said. “You know, things happen.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.