Does Bears coordinator Vic Fangio own Aaron Rodgers?
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In four games, Vic Fangio has never lost to Aaron Rodgers.
In two playoff games, he’s sent the Packers quarterback home for the long winter.
After the Bears gave up 93 points to the Packers last season, true believers will be quick to cling to the new defensive coordinator’s record as a real reason for hope in Sunday’s season opener.
Don’t go too far, though.
“Whether it’s coaches or players, I’ve always taken pretty much the adage, ‘Show me a good coach and I’ll show you some good players,’” coach John Fox said Wednesday at Halas Hall.
And this year’s Bears defense is not the 2012 or 2013 49ers, the two teams that toppled Rodgers. Each of those San Francisco teams had six defenders go to the Pro Bowl that year.
The Bears do present Rodgers with, well, a change from the Tampa 2. Given that Rodgers is 11-3 against his rivals, that couldn’t hurt.
“They’re very well coached, obviously,” Rodgers said of Fangio teams. “Scheme: recognize, disguise. He’s always had a lot of moving pieces, but they always seem to be very well-prepared.”
Rodgers hasn’t been the goat — or the G.O.A.T. — in losses to Fangio. In four games, he completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 1,070 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
Ask Rodgers what the common theme is, and he cracks that the other team scored more points. Ask Fangio, and he said it doesn’t matter now, anyway.
“We’ve got to be able to figure out a way to do it with the group we have here,” Fangio said.
If Fangio can crack the code Sunday, it would be one of the great accomplishments of his career.
The Packers averaged 30.4 points per game, tops in the NFL, last year; the Bears gave up 27.6, the second-most. The Packers didn’t punt against the Bears last year for the first six quarters over two games; during that span, they outscored the Bears, 80-17.
Whether Sunday’s opponent would have been Rodgers or someone else, the Bears’ learning curve remains steep. Exactly one member of the Bears’ starting secondary second-year player Kyle Fuller — played for the team last year. Three of the starting linebackers who were Bears in 2014 played different positions then.
“Obviously they’ve been pretty bad here for two straight years defensively,” Fangio said. “You know, we’ve made some changes, but that’s an on-going process. It’s not an overnight thing. You just have to keep building week-to-week.
“You know, not look at the season as whole, but look at it one game at a time, one series at a time, one play at a time. And make your strides as you go.”
In a scheduling quirk, Sunday will mark the third season opener in four years in which Fangio has faced Rodgers. The quarterback said that didn’t qualify as a defensive advantage. He guessed the Packers’ first-team offense put fewer than 50 plays on tape this preseason, while coach Mike McCarthy said 30 percent of Sunday’s plays will be brand new. That makes scouting difficult, on both sides.
McCarthy said two things stand out about a Fangio defense: “discipline and, really, their ability to take away the football.”
Do either, and the Bears might have a chance to slow Rodgers.
Probably not, though.
“With a great quarterback like him, there is no one key, because there is no one way to stop a great quarterback like himself,” Fangio said. “Some people would say pressure him, but he can hurt you there. Drop a lot of guys, he can hurt you there.
“That’s why he’s a great quarterback. There’s not one way to play him. You just gotta mix it.”
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is 4-0 against Aaron Rodgers, winning in the regular season in 2012 and
2013 and the playoffs in both those seasons. Here’s how Aaron Rodgers did in those games:
Sept. 9, 2012/SF 30, GB 22/30-44-303/2/1
Jan. 12, 2013/SF 45, GB 31/26-39-257/2/1
Sept. 8, 2013/SF 34, GB 28/21-37-333/3/1
Jan. 45, 2014/SF 23, GB 20/17-26-177/1/0