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Bears: Evaluating the Two Most Sensible Options at Defensive Coordinator

Remember when the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers filled their defensive coordinator vacancies and everyone thought Vic Fangio was going to re-sign with the Chicago Bears?

Yea, me too.  

It’s now Thursday and it doesn’t look like the Bears are any closer to bringing Fangio back. There is still plenty of time for first-time Head Coach Matt Nagy to find this guy, but it would be nice if a decision is made sooner rather than later. 

Another name that has been mentioned as a possible Fangio replacement is Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher. The Bears reportedly wanted to “talk with” Bettcher. However, it’s unknown at this time if those talks actually happened. Technically, the Cardinals could have blocked the Bears from speaking with Bettcher. 

When it’s all said and done, either Fangio or Bettcher will get the job of defensive coordinator for the Bears, barring any surprising outside candidate. They are the two men most qualified for the job. Now the question becomes what man is best for the Bears? 

Let’s take a deeper look. 

Vic Fangio’s Case  

Most Bears fan know and understand how important Fangio has been to the turnaround of the Bears defense. In 2017, the Bears were a top-10 defense despite losing many players to injury. Jerrell Freeman, Quintin Demps, Willie Young and Leonard Floyd just to name a few. The Bears were able to get the most out of their players on the defensive side of the ball, which says something about Fangio’s abilities as a coach in the NFL. 

His players have high praise for him. Just ask Lamarr Houston and Kyle Fuller

“He’s a great coach,” linebacker Lamarr Houston said. “Even though we didn’t have the best record, the defense did have a lot of good stats. That goes to show his worth as a coach.”

“He’s been around the league for a long time,” Fuller continued. “He’s seen a lot. He’s been through a lot. It’s definitely something that he could, you know, provide for a team, players like myself.”

Players want to come to Chicago and play for Fangio. That’s important, especially for a team with a lot of unknown with a new head coach. Selling future free agents is something Fangio can do well just by his track record alone. I’m all for building in the draft, but the NFL is a season-to-season league. Meaning turnarounds can happen in a short amount of time if the right personnel moves are made. 

I could go on forever about Fangio and why he would make sense to bring back. There is one problem with Fangio though: he’s expensive. Reports indicate that Fangio is seeking more money to come back to Chicago, which isn’t surprising considering the job he’s done. 

The issue with that is Fangio could end up making something similar in salary to the head coach. That’s not something that will go over well with the organization, so you can understand why a deal has yet to get done. Everything on the field says Fangio should be back. In the end, it could be the money that keeps him from being back with the Bears. 

This is where James Bettcher comes in. 

James Bettcher’s Case  

James Bettcher grew up a Chicago Bears fan. Sources say Bettcher would be interested in speaking with the Bears once the Cardinals figure out who their next head coach will be. Bettcher is in the running to fill the vacancy at that position for the Cardinals, and Bruce Arians has even advised the Cardinals to promote him. However, it appears Pat Shurmur is the favorite for the job. 

This tells us two things. One is that Bettcher isn’t doing anything until he is told he will not be the next head coach of the Cardinals. It also tells us that Bettcher will talk to the Bears if the Cardinals decide to go in another direction. The bad news for the Bears is that they will likely have to wait a few more weeks for the Cardinals to make a decision. 

Bettcher is another young NFL coach on the rise. Even if he doesn’t get the Cardinals job, people believe he will be a head coach in the next two or three seasons. That’s a risk for the Bears, who will want to keep their coaching staff together as long as possible under Nagy. Though, with Bettcher, the risk may be worth the reward. 

Like Fangio, Bettcher runs a 3-4, but it’s more of a hybrid if anything. He’s known for being creative and aggressive, which makes him intriguing. He likes to blitz, which is the opposite of what Fangio likes to do. It’s important to note that Bettcher isn’t “blitz-happy,” he takes calculated risks.

His defense has been in the top six of the NFL the last three years. Of course, it helps to have players like Patrick Peterson, but that’s still pretty damn impressive. His units have also had success against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. That is big considering the Packers have dominated the Bears for what feels like forever now. 

If the Cardinals don’t block the Bears, they would be foolish to not at least consider Bettcher as a possible Fangio replacement. 

And the Best Man for the Job is…   

Again, these are the top two coaches for the Bears defensive coordinator position. Personally, I would prefer Fangio over Bettcher. He’s just more familiar with the personal and could convince some free agents to return to Chicago (i.e. Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and Lamar Houston). With that being said, Bettcher may come at a cheaper price and could do a lot of exotic things with the defense. 

The risk with him is he may leave in a couple years to become a head coach. It appears the time has passed for Fangio to become a head coach, so we can expect him to stay in Chicago a while. 

By default, I prefer the coach who is most familiar with the Bears situation and that man if Fangio. However, I don’t think the Bears can go wrong here. I and most Bears fans would be ecstatic about either one of these guys being the DC. 

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Nick is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University and passionate about everything Chicago sports (except the Cubs). He has run his own website, been featured on Bleacher Report, and tried to sell his soul on eBay (which he hasn’t gotten back). He hopes to one day see his beloved Bears win the Super Bowl and is still trying to figure out why Jay Cutler gets so much hate.

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