At this time last year, we were thumbing through a list of assistant coaches with the hope of finding the right head-coaching candidate to replace John Fox. But a year later, it’s one of the Chicago Bears’ assistant coaches whose name is starting to pop up as an attractive target.
A source reached out to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio to share a list of recommended head-coaching candidates via the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel, and Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio made the cut. For what it’s worth, last year’s list included Matt Nagy, Steve Wilks, Mike Vrabel, Pat Shurmur, and Matt Patricia – all of whom received head-coaching opportunities.
This list (created by a panel that includes John Madden, Charley Casserley, Bill Cowher, Bruce Arians, and others) carries some clout, so Fangio’s inclusion is certainly note worthy. He’s been the man pushing the buttons behind what’s been a top-5 defense this season and is long overdue for a real shot at a head-coaching opportunity.
Even though the Bears passed on hiring Fangio last offseason, he was the first person they interviewed after firing John Fox. Since then, Fangio’s stock has been on the rise. Back in November, reports surfaced that Fangio was expected to get serious interest as a head-coaching candidate. There were also rumors the Bears were “fearful” Fangio would get a head-coaching opportunity elsewhere, which would leave the team searching for a replacement. Frankly, I’m fearful that opportunity would happen in Green Bay, even if they passed on him for the team’s open defensive coordinator position last winter. But still … it’s time to prepare ourselves emotionally for the possibility Fangio leaves for a head-coaching job elsewhere.
Fangio started coaching in the NFL in 1986 and – save for a brief pit stop as the defensive coordinator at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh – has been an assistant ever since. However, this could be Fangio’s time to shine as his defenses have improved each year since arriving in Chicago with his unit’s best efforts coming in 2018. In addition to having a league-leading 36 takeaways, the Bears rank third in scoring defense and fourth in yards per game. So while offensive-minded coaching candidates are hot to trot right now, it’s not crazy to think that the league eventually pushes back by hiring defensive-minded coaches who have the potential capability of stopping high-scoring offensive attacks. And if that happens to be the case, then Fangio – even at age 60 – fits the bill.