Chicago Bears DC Vic Fangio takes shot at group he 'inherited'

By The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 15, 2016 at 1:47 AM
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Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman might not be sending holiday greetings to current defensive coordinator Vic Fangio after hearing his comments this week.

The Bears' defense remains a solid seventh in the league in Fangio's 3-4 scheme despite numerous injuries and player changes.

Chicago had been 30th two straight years in Tucker's 4-3.

"Well the most frustrating part about it is our record," Fangio said. "You know, when you have our record nothing seems rosy. But I think we've made improvements. I think there's only one or two guys that we inherited still playing on defense. And I think those are mainly backups. So there's been a big transition."

Fangio didn't stop there, however.

"I think the scheme thing is overblown because you're playing a lot of nickel right now and the group we inherited wasn't built for the 4-3 either, obviously, by the two years they had prior to us getting here," Fangio said. "So they weren't built for anything. We had to start at Ground Zero."

--The Bears turned back to Adrian Amos at safety last week during the second half of the loss to Detroit after rookie Deon Bush struggled.

Fangio called the play of all the safeties insufficient.

"Overall it wasn't good enough," he said. "But it was one game. We're just looking to find the best combination back there to play."

It might not mean the end of playing time for Bush, though. He appears to be learning from his mistakes.

"There's evidence," Fangio said. "But we'll see how he does in these final three games."

-- Much was made before the last Bears-Packers game about Aaron Rodgers playing poorly and being booed, and also about Green Bay not having any healthy or productive running backs.

Then Rodgers completed 39-of-56 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.

"A lot was made of Aaron Rodgers at the time," coach John Fox said. "Even from their media.

"But we never saw any difference. We know what he's capable of and what he can do. Now that they've run off three wins, I don't think they're talking about that quite as much now."

Nor is anyone worrying about Green Bay's running game. They got 81 combined yards rushing from receivers Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb playing at running back, and have continued using Montgomery there. He had 81 yards total the last two games.

"They lost (Eddie) Lacy and (James) Starks kind of about the same time," Fangio said. "And (Montgomery) has running back ability both in high school and college. He played a lot of Wildcat quarterback at Stanford. He's a big guy. He's not your normal looking receiver.

"He's 220-some pounds and he's more built like a running back so I don't think it's as foreign to him to go back there and become a running back as it would for most receivers."

-- Sunday's game is to be played in some of the most brutally cold conditions to hit a Bears game in years. Weather forecasts call for zero to minus-15 degrees, with a 13-mph wind making it possibly the coldest Bears home game ever.

"I don't think the weather really matters," wideout Alshon Jeffery said. "I'm just ready to play football. I could care less how cold it is. I've played in colder games. I'm just ready to play football."

Bold talk, but the Bears' coldest home game in history was 3 degrees on Dec. 18, 1983 when a 14-mph wind made the wind chill minus-15. The air temperature was 3 degrees that day.

The second-coldest game was also against Green Bay, Dec. 22, 2008 when it was minus-13 wind chill on a 2-degree day because of a 9-mph wind.

"We're all over the forecast," Fox said. "In fact, it's going to be very similar tomorrow (Thursday), I believe. It's something we talked to the team about.

"Again, I'm not sure you ever get used to that kind of weather. But it takes some mentally tough-minded people to deal with it."

Fox said the Bears would "practice in it a little bit tomorrow (Thursday)."

Asked if they'd leave the Payton Center and go outside all day, Fox said, "All day would probably be stretching it."

-- Special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers saw former Bear Shea McClellin hurdle the center untouched for New England and block a field goal and called the strategy nothing new. He cited several other games when this occurred in recent years.

"That play is not happening unless the defense feels confident that they've got a beat on your rhythm," he said. "To combat those types of things, you can change your rhythm in terms of the snap. The holder can change his mechanics. The kicker can change his mechanics.

"You don't wanna be changing all that much. You can go on to the center's head bob. You don't wanna change all that much. You don't wanna change the rhythm of those guys. From a blocking standpoint, the center can do things to discourage that. The guards can do things to discourage that. You can pull the wing and have him sitting there."

--Although Jeffery didn't want to talk specifics about his PED violation, the wide receiver didn't mind saying what he did to stay in shape while away from the team four weeks.

"I was in Washington," he said. "I did some yoga. I was doing yoga every day. Working out every day.

"I did it before ... I thought why not? I've got nothing else to do."

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