Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio returning to Bears
(AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez, File)
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Vic Fangio is returning to the Chicago Bears as defensive coordinator after being passed up for their head coaching job.
Fangio re-signed Friday and will continue to lead a defense he helped transform the past three seasons. He was the first candidate to interview for the Bears' coaching job after John Fox was fired, but general manager Ryan Pace ultimately decided to go with former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.
Fangio was free to go elsewhere after his contract expired. Before he arrived in Chicago, the Bears' defense ranked among the worst in franchise history. They were more than respectable in 2017 under Fangio despite losing several players to injuries, including linebacker Leonard Floyd.
Chicago's defense ranked 10th overall, seventh against the pass, ninth in scoring and 11th against the run.
With Fangio back, the Bears have filled all three coordinator spots.
The team announced Friday that it has hired former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator and Chris Tabor as special teams coordinator. The Bears also brought in Charles London to coach running backs and Mike Furrey as wide receivers coach.
Helfrich led Oregon to a 37-16 record in four seasons. That included a run to the first College Football Playoff championship game during the 2014 season with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota at quarterback. He was fired after a 4-8 finish in 2016.
Before becoming the Ducks' coach, Helfrich was their quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 2009-12 under Chip Kelly. With their fast-paced and prolific spread-option offense, the Ducks went 46-7 during that span.
Helfrich didn't call plays as Oregon's offensive coordinator and he won't in Chicago. Nagy plans to do that.
The Bears are looking to get the most out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and emerge from one of the worst runs in franchise history.
They fired Fox after three seasons with a 14-34 record that gave him the second-worst winning percentage for a Chicago coach. Nagy spent the past decade working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City and served as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator this past season.
He is trying to help turn around a team that missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season and hasn't finished above .500 since Lovie Smith was fired after going 10-6 in 2012. The Bears were 5-11 in 2017.
The development of Trubisky, the No. 2 overall draft pick last spring, could go a long way toward lifting an offense that ranked 30th overall and last in passing. But the Bears will need to acquire some playmaking receivers.
Tabor spent the past seven seasons as Cleveland's special teams coordinator. The Browns ranked sixth in kickoff return average against (21.8), seventh in the NFL in punt return average (9.9), ninth in total kick return yards (8,974) and 10th in total return yards allowed (7,627) during that time. Tabor was Chicago's assistant special teams coach from 2008-2010.
London has spent nine seasons in the NFL - the past four as Houston's running backs coach. He was an offensive assistant with the Bears from 2007-09.
Furrey played eight seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. With Detroit in 2006, he ranked second in the league with 98 receptions while recording 1,086 yards and six touchdowns.
Furrey spent the past two years coaching at Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C.
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Updated January 12, 2018