Bears’ Vic Fangio lukewarm about hot-and-cold game vs. Pack: ’We just got beat’
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Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio defines calm. He doesn’t get too high when things are going well and doesn’t get too low when things are going poorly.
And over the course of a game, no matter what happens on the field, he doesn’t change.
The even-keeled Fangio predictably was neither ecstatic about the defense’s dominant first half against the Packers last week nor incensed by the collapse in the second half that led to a stunning -24-23 loss at Lambeau Field.
“We were just playing good defense against a tough opponent on the road, and we were doing well for a while,” Fangio said. “Nothing changed in our approach [in the second half]. The biggest thing that happened was we gave up two big pass plays. That will give you the impression that everything has gone haywire. But everything didn’t go haywire. It’s just that they made two really big plays. And the third-and-14 conversion [a 15-yard pass to Geronimo Allison] was a very big play in that game.”
That would actually make four big plays for Aaron Rodgers in the second half, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Allison, a 51-yard completion to Davante Adams and the devastating 75-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb that won the game.
The Bears allowed 299 yards on 31 plays (9.6 yards per play) in the second half. That they dominated the first half — allowing 71 yards on 28 plays (2.5 yards per play) with four sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception that outside linebacker Khalil Mack returned for a touchdown — wasn’t enough solace for Fangio.
“Not really. We lost, and that’s the overriding thing,” Fangio said. “Sure . . . there were a lot of good things out there, but ultimately we have to be able to close it out, and we didn’t get it done.”
Fangio didn’t even bemoan the big pass plays — “we just got beat” — or cornerback Kyle Fuller’s drop of a gimme interception on a first-down pass with 2:39 to play and the Bears leading 23-17. “He expects himself to make that play,” Fangio said. “But he dropped it.’’
Two plays later, Rodgers hit Cobb for the 75-yard winner.
“We were in a man defense and [safety] Eddie Jackson came within a whisker of knocking the ball down,” Fangio said, “and then it became a really good runner with the ball in the open field and not a lot of people around him and he made a great play.”
Considering the Bears were victimized by one of the best quarterbacks of all time — something that doesn’t figure to happen every week — the opening performance seemed like a good first step for a defense that is hoping to reach an elite level with Mack on board.
Mack had a spectacular debut, with a strip-sack and fumble recovery and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. All after joining the team that week.
“Obviously he’s stepped in very well,” Fangio said. “But I think everyone likes to overanalyze things — how much can you play a guy that’s just come in like that, [with] no training camp, no nothing, hasn’t played since whenever his last game was last season. But I think with special guys you throw that stuff out the window. He’s a special player. He did special things under special circumstances.”
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Overall, it seemed like a good start.
“You can’t promise highlight plays like that out of Mack every down — snatching the ball from the quarterback,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said.
“But I think our defense has the potential to be ferocious and just be relentless and getting after guys. So I anticipate a really good season.”