Should the Chicago Bears lose their defensive coordinator to a head-coaching position elsewhere, at least we know they’ll be prepared to tackle the situation.
#Bears coach Matt Nagy on possibility of DC Vic Fangio leaving to take a HC job: "I always have to have a contingency plan for every coach on our staff (leaving)."
— Bob LeGere (@BobLeGere) January 3, 2019
Head Coach Matt Nagy said there is a contingency plan in place if Fangio (or any coach) leaves. Well, that’s encouraging. I’d hate to think a head coach as detail-oriented and prepared as Nagy isn’t prepared to deal with the possibility of losing an assistant coach on a well-built staff. *snickers in John Fox’s general direction*
Contingency plans aren’t just good, they’re expected. Assistants who interview for head-coaching gigs are expected to have a list of potential coaches (yes, coaches … as in plural) they want to bring on their staff. Having a variety of names shows potential bosses you have a network you can dial into if needed, an ability to fall back to a Plan B or even Plan C if Option A is unavailable, and – to an extent – a level of preparedness that is an admirable trait for those involved in the hiring process. So at least Nagy is ready for Fangio’s departure if it gets that far.
It’s far too early to do a deep dive on which direction Nagy would go if it comes to it because, well, Fangio is still his defensive coordinator. And since the dynamic of Nagy doing his thing and Fangio running the defense as he sees fit as a de facto head coach is going so well, I don’t see a scenario where the DC is chased out of town by the head coach. As they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But still … there are some early names worth keeping tabs on moving forward.
Todd Bowles has a long-standing relationship with Nagy and would be the most logical outsider candidate to take Fangio’s place if he leaves to take a head coaching opportunity. Bowles has been a successful defensive coordinator in the past and has familiarity with running successful 3-4 defenses.
Should the Bears lean toward hiring an in-house replacement, Defensive Backs Coach Ed Donatell seems like an ideal choice. Donatell has previous experience as a DC (Packers, 2000-03; Falcons 2004-06) and has been the leader of the most improved group on the defensive side of the ball. Donatell has been coached with Fangio since the two were assistants on Jim Harbaugh’s staff on the San Francisco 49ers. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fangio poached Donatell to be his DC if he became a head coach.
An outside-the-box candidate for the position might be Steve Wilks. The Bears wanted to interview Wilks for their head coach opening last offseason, but Wilks declined to participate. He eventually became the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach before being fired at the end of the 2018 season. Tough break. Wilks has a past in Chicago, serving as a DBs coach under Lovie Smith from 2006-09 before following Ron Rivera to San Diego (DBs Coach, 2009-11) and Carolina (2012-17). It appeared as if Wilks’ stock was on the rise in recent years. He added the title of Assistant Head Coach in 2015, then became the team’s DC two years later. I can’t help but wonder if Wilks (who having coached under Rivera makes him a branch off of a branch of the Andy Reid tree) is a fit in Chicago for this position.
In the end, it’s probably too early to make a call as far as the future goes. The Bears (including Fangio) are focused on the here-and-now, and we should probably follow suit. After all, it’s playoff week in Chicago. We can cross future bridges when we get there.