The Chicago Bears know they have to get their defensive coordinator position right. Vic Fangio is gone, plucked by the Denver Broncos to become their head coach. While he’s earned that job, it leaves his former team in a bind trying to move forward without losing the steam they’ve built on defense. That means finding a quality replacement.
That’s easier said than done. Fangio was one of the best, most respected defensive coordinators in football. Finding somebody who can equal the savvy he brought is a tall order. Odds are the Bears are casting a wide net, seeking out plenty of proven names in a hope of finding somebody with that same know-how and swagger.
Rex Ryan? Chuck Pagano? Dom Capers? They and others are almost certainly on the list. However, there is a possibility the Bears may seek out quality assistance from other teams. Men who may not have been coordinators before but seem more than ready for that next step. Often teams have success when they bring in somebody who has actually been on their payroll before.
For the Bears, one name who may have popped up on their radar is Mike Phair.
A Chicago Bears Mike Phair reunion may continue defensive excellence
Don’t recognize the name? That’s okay. Most won’t. For a quick history lesson, Phair was hired by Lovie Smith back in 2011 to take over the Bears defensive line coaching. This would be a job he’d do quite well at. He turned Henry Melton into a Pro Bowler, got 11.5 sacks from Julius Peppers in 2012 which is the most he ever had away from Carolina, and even seven sacks from Cory Wootton.
After leaving in 2014, Phair spent some time down at Illinois as their defensive line coach before the Indianapolis Colts came calling this past year in 2018. The job he’s done for their defense this season is nothing short of remarkable. He got nine sacks from Denico Autry and five each from journeymen like Jabaal Sheard and Margus Hunt. Not exactly a collection of top tier talent.
Phair is 49-years old and plenty experienced at both the NFL and college levels. If the Bears were looking to bring in somebody familiar with the organization who has a reputation for motivating and elevating his players, this would be a guy to look at.
Besides that, history shows that defensive line coaches tend to have successful runs as coordinators. It was true of Buddy Ryan, Wade Phillips, Dan Quinn, Romeo Crennel, Chuck Noll, and Bill Arnsparger among others.