The Bears’ search for a new coach has begun. On Wednesday, the Bears interviewed defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for the head-coach vacancy. While few people expect Fangio to land the job, there is a growing belief that the Bears wish to keep him around.
Brad Biggs and Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune reported, “They would value retaining him as defensive coordinator in the event they hire someone else for the top job.” Without a doubt, Fangio has been a bright spot on the Bears’ coaching staff over the last few years. Fangio has turned the Bears defense into one of the best in the league. In 2014, before Fangio took old of the defense, the Bears ranked 30th in yards allowed. After the 2017 season, the Bears come in at 10th. Few coaches in the NFL have the ability or wherewithal to improve a defense by 20 spots.
Despite the Bears’ understandable interest in retaining Fangio, expect other teams to pursue him as well. Fangio has a long track record of success in the NFL, and a defense-needy team might just be willing to make him their head coach.
Aside from assembling a new coaching staff, the Bears’ front office is tasked with assembling a competent roster as well. After going 14-34 over the last 3 seasons, the Bears have some work to do. What part of the team will garner the most attention?
The Bears’ offense has been in shambles since Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery left. Failure to replace the big-time play-makers has left the offense searching for answers. The combination of Cameron Meredith’s torn ACL, and Kevin White’s inability to stay healthy poses a problem for the Bears’ front office. They need a lot of wide receivers. And healthy ones. So who are some options? Jarvis Landry is the most talented wide receiver on the free agent market. Over his four years in the league, he has averaged over 1,000 yards and 5.5 touchdowns a season. On top of that, he has done so with poor QB play. He could supplement the Bears’ offense with a much needed quality-target. Other names include players like Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson. Both come with major injury concerns, so it might be hard to justify signing them. There is some speculation that Robinson would be willing to take a 1-year “prove it” deal. The Bears might jump at that opportunity in order to give Trubisky a play-maker outside the hash marks. The Bears also are expected to add through the draft. One name that has repeatedly surfaced is Alabama WR Calvin Ridley. The 6 foot 1 wide receiver is as experienced as they come, having played 3 years under Nick Saban. Ridley could very well be available at the 9th pick when the Bears’ turn comes around in the upcoming draft. Regardless of the route they go, the Bears’ wide receiver corps will have a different look in 2018.
Tight end is an interesting position for the 2018 Bears. With Dion Sims and Adam Shaheen slotted for most of the playing time this season, I doubt the Bears will make any major additions in the off-season. The Bears’ money and draft picks are better spent elsewhere for now.
In my last post, I mentioned how the Bears’ offensive line was a strength at the beginning of the season last year. By the end of the year the line looked completely over-matched by the Viking’s stout defense. In a mediocre free-agent market regarding O-linemen, I would not be surprised if the Bears targeted several linemen in the draft. One particularly fascinating prospect is Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame. The gritty guard has pummeled defenders for years for the Irish, and many expect him to continue that trend in the NFL. If available at 9, I can see the Bears taking him in order to make one of the best interior lines in football.
The Bears’ defense was overall pretty good last year. With certain players hitting free agency, the Bears have some shoring up to do. I expect the Bears to explore bringing back both Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller. The two played well in Fangio’s defense, and the Bears would be foolish to let both walk. Also, the Bears are in need of players capable of getting to the quarterback. Leonard Floyd has shown promise, and Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks played high-caliber football all year. However, injuries to Pernell McPhee and others slowed things down a bit. Expect the Bears to target EDGE rushers this off-season. They are also expected to add some depth in the secondary. Overall, gaining depth and play-makers stand out as the most glaring needs this season.
As the Bears’ fan-base becomes increasingly impatient for wins, the Bears need a quick turnaround. With some major pieces already in place, and a new coaching staff in place, expect the Bears to improve in 2018.