Vic Fangio doesn’t like to lose — at anything.
Which made 1999 and 2000 a particularly tough time for him on Indianapolis golf courses. There, Bruce Arians, the Colts’ quarterback coach, beat his team’s defensive coordinator regularly, flashing a high-70s score Fangio couldn’t touch.
“Very seldom,” Fangio said Wednesday, “would I ever get him on the golf course.”
He’s had more successful outings against him since, on the football field. As the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, Fangio beat the Cardinals’ head coach in three of four games the past two years.
He knows the Cardinals — “You can definitely tell in meetings for sure,” inside linebacker Shea McClellin said — and he’s trying to ensure the Bears do, too.
They’ve been watching last year’s Cardinals-49ers games for perspective.
“Everybody’s going to try to attack us, scheme-wise, as if we were the 49ers,” outside linebacker Pernell McPhee said. “Every team we play, we should watch the 49ers play against them.”
At least until the Bears gain a defensive identity — which, Fangio admits, they don’t have yet.
He hasn’t put in the full scheme package yet, and knows the Bears will be different later in the season than they are today.
It’s hard to determine their strengths and weaknesses after Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ no-huddle; the Bears couldn’t run in new players very often, and were stuck in a sub package more than 80 percent of the time.
“One game, I don’t think, gives you an identity,” he said.
They failed to record a sack or a quarterback hit Sunday but, Fangio said, “didn’t have any major busts or anything.” The Packers won more individual matchups in the passing game, even if it did take spectacular throws to beat them.
“I was disappointed in the play,” he said, “but by no means discouraged.”
The Bears’ identity will shift with each opponent. That’s the point.
“Any time you have the players you have at your disposal, you play a style and do what you need to do to play good on offense or defense,” Fangio said. “Bruce has obviously done that with Arizona, and id like to think we’ve done that the past few years where I was.
“Hopefully we’ll get to do that here.”
To help his players adjust, both physically and mentally, Fangio simplifies things. He and Arians were once too proud to do that.
“I think when you’re young, you try to say, ‘I’m the smartest son-of-a-bitch in the valley,’” Arians said. “Then you learn after a while, ‘I’m making these guys slow down because they’re thinking too much.’”
With age, they’ve learned the balance.
“He’s been through the fires,” said Arians, who thinks Fangio should be a head coach someday. “He has great experience. … He had guys that weren’t quite as talented as he has now.
“I think we both settled down and simplified things for our guys, so they could play hard and fast.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley