The Bears have one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, but he alone won’t make the defense respectable.
No team upgraded any position more than the Bears did by replacing Mel Tucker with Vic Fangio. Tucker is one of the worst defensive coordinators in the history of the league and Fangio is pretty good. That’s a huge jump, but it might be the only jump they made. You could argue that the team’s talent level is about the same as it was the last two years.
Yes, they added Pernell McPhee to pressure the quarterback, but they also lost Stephen Paea (six sacks) and it would be a surprise if Willie Young had anywhere near the same impact he had a year ago, registering ten sacks. Is that a net positive for the Bears?
The secondary is still a disaster.
Antrel Rolle, the other big free agent addition, couldn’t cover last year and that isn’t likely to change. Brock Vereen was completely lost and it’s hard for me to believe that he will actually play over Ryan Mundy, arguably the team’s best defensive back a year ago. Tim Jennings didn’t produce the turnovers that got him a big payday after 2013 and Kyle Fuller was more bad than he was good – expected from a rookie campaign. Free agent Alan Ball is solid but has shown an inability to stay on the field.
It’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that the Bears will start this season with the same two off-the-ball linebackers they ended last year with in Christian Jones and Jon Bostic. The success of their defensive line is based almost entirely on Jay Ratliff being great for 16 games, something he hasn’t achieved in half a decade. If he goes down, the Bears are going to be in big trouble up front. Naturally some players are expected to improve, especially Fuller and Jones, but neither are sure bets.
All that said, having Fangio instead of Tucker is going to make a lot of the players look better. Everything Tucker did was vanilla, Fangio is the complete opposite.
What does def coordinator Vic Fangio provide the #Bears that wasn’t here before? “Strategy,” CB Tim Jennings said.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) July 31, 2015
But Fangio isn’t perfect.
Prior to coming to San Francisco, where they already had a solid defense, his teams finished 15th or worst in scoring defense eight straight years. He’s a better coach now than he was then. Last year was proof of that because the 49ers defense had no business being as good as they were with the players they had on the field.
Adding Fangio does guarantee improvement but it’s tough to say how much. Expect the Bears to be better. Expect them to be professional. Expect them to show signs that they’re working toward something great. Fangio brings that to the table. But don’t expect them to be great right away. That is going to take more time and more talent. With Fangio on board, however, they have someone capable of getting them there.