Vic Fangio focused on playoffs, not new jobs
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Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has had only three head-coaching interviews in his 32-year NFL career.
He has two on the books for next week.
Fangio must be consumed with preparing for interviews this week, right?
‘‘I’ve done zero,’’ he said Thursday.
‘‘Zero,’’ he said.
How about homework earlier in the season?
‘‘Zero,’’ he said.
Fangio was asked about how he would avoid any job-hunting distractions as the Bears — and his monster defense — prepare to face the Eagles in the playoffs Sunday.
‘‘I have not returned one phone call,’’ he said. ‘‘I have not done one piece of work for it. I refuse to. And that’s it.’’
With his typical dry humor, Fangio — a lifelong assistant — acknowledged the obvious when pressed why he wasn’t doing homework.
‘‘Maybe that’s why I’m here,’’ he said, drawing laughs. ‘‘I don’t know. I have enough on my plate coaching these guys and the other things than . . .
‘‘[I’ll] deal with it as they come up.’’
That singular focus is why Bears players adore the man they call the ‘‘Evil Genius.’’ Most coordinators step in front of the room and give a rah-rah speech; Fangio calmly dispenses scouting reports like a spy in a gray sweat suit.
The Broncos and Dolphins have asked to speak with Fangio about their head-coaching vacancies. By NFL rules, he can’t talk with them until after the Bears’ playoff game. He’ll interview with each team Monday, according to NFL Network.
Fangio wouldn’t even commit to cramming for interviews after the game against the Eagles, though he figures to. Even if Fangio has done no homework on either team, he has recent experience with both: The Bears trained alongside the Broncos in August and faced the Dolphins in October.
In general, Fangio said, he would want to walk into a good situation as a head coach.
‘‘There’s a lot of things: working with management, players, etc.,’’ he said. ‘‘I haven’t given it a lot of thought. I’m not lying to you guys; I’ve got zero up there done.’’
A year ago, Bears coach Matt Nagy was in Fangio’s shoes as the coordinator of a red-hot unit that caught the NFL’s attention. He promised Chiefs coach Andy Reid during their playoff week that he wouldn’t ‘‘spend one ounce of energy’’ preparing to talk with the Colts and Bears. But he had laid his plans out in the ‘‘months or a year or years’’ before that. It’s unclear whether Fangio has done the same.
Nagy is proud that Fangio is receiving outside interest — ‘‘How can you not be happy for someone as a person and as a coach?’’ he said — and has contingency plans for who would run his defense next season if Fangio leaves.
But every time Nagy has walked into Fangio’s office this week, Fangio has had a remote control in his hands, watching film of the Eagles.
‘‘I just think it’s so important to focus,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘It’s not fair to your peers [otherwise]. It’s not fair to your players. . . . He’s been doing a great job with that. So completely focused.
‘‘It is hard, though. It’s not easy because you’re talking about a big-time opportunity.’’
Defensive dominance Sunday, of course, would make Fangio even more attractive.
‘‘He deserves to be a candidate for any team that needs a head coach,’’ defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. ‘‘I have a lot of respect for him. So does the entire defense.
‘‘I don’t even want to think about the possibility of him ever leaving, so I’m going to pretend like nothing’s going on.’’
Fangio joked last week that he had one job interview lined up — for the Cubs’ bench-coach position. He said Thursday he was upset Mark Loretta got the job, not that he had done much research about the gig.
‘‘I haven’t prepared for that, either,’’ he said.