Vic Fangio

Extra Points: XFL, Helmet Rule, Bucs, Bears

Although fewer details are known about the XFL’s relaunch compared to the Alliance of American Football’s debut, XFL 2.0 have an edge on the AAF when it comes to adding talent. The previous figure that’s surfaced regarding XFL salaries has been $75K, but league commissioner Oliver Luck said recently (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) that exceptional players could earn more than $200K per season. (The NFL’s 2018 league minimum is $480K for rookies.) The AAF plans to structure three-year, $250K contracts. Both the XFL and AAF plan to have outs in deals in order to allow for players to try and make NFL rosters. Length of these contracts will vary from player to player, per Luck.

Additionally, the XFL plans to move forward with its location unveilings later this year. The AAF will station teams in Atlanta, Birmingham (Ala.), Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego. It would stand to reason the XFL will choose other markets, but that’s not certain at this point. But this will also be an eight-team league. Both the XFL and AAF will feature 10-game seasons.

Shifting back to the NFL, here’s the latest:

  • The NFL’s helmet rule has probably been the most discussed topic during the preseason slate, and the competition committee convened this week to discuss the radical change. However, the committee determined the rule will not be tweaked at this time, despite the rule enduring scrutiny from all sides. NFL executive VP Troy Vincent added (Twitter link) instant replay will not be permitted to review these calls, but the committee did review feedback from players, coaches and referees. Additional video tutorials will be provided for what may be the defining component for the 2018 season.
  • Perhaps the 2016 and ’17 seasons’ defining sequences, the racial inequality-themed protests continue to spur meetings. Some NFLPA executive committee members will meet with a few owners Monday at the Giants’ facility to discuss the anthem controversy, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken has called plays during Tampa Bay’s preseason, but Dirk Koetter will take back the reins once the regular season starts, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Koetter enters the season on one of the hottest seats in the league, and his play-calling will go a long way toward determining if the Bucs can improve and if he’ll be given a fourth season as head coach. The Bucs have ranked 18th in scoring in each of Koetter’s two HC seasons.
  • Vic Fangio‘s coached pro football long enough he has USFL experience, and he had options to leave Chicago as new Bears coach Matt Nagy formed his staff. However, he returned in part because the Bears’ front office “badly” wanted him to stay, NFL reporter Adam Caplan tweets. Despite not having many household names on its 2017 unit, the Bears’ defense ranked as a top-10 group in both total and scoring defense. While Nagy and Ryan Pace made wholesale changes on offense, Fangio’s defense remains largely the same — albeit with Roquan Smith in the picture now.

NFC Notes: Cardinals, Giants, Fangio, Vikings

David Johnson is doing his part to keep the Cardinals‘ offense together. Since he was last on the field, Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer retired. And Larry Fitzgerald isn’t certain to come back for a 15th season. Johnson, though, tried to coax Palmer into a 16th slate — one for which he was under contract.

I think Carson’s done,” Johnson said on the Pro Football Talk PM Podcast (via PFT’s Mike Florio). “I’ve talked to him. I was trying to get him to come back just because he was another person who was very impactful not just on the field but also off the field. I was trying to recruit him to come back but I think his mindset is [to retire] — and I definitely understand where he’s coming from.”

Johnson was more bullish on Fitzgerald’s chances of coming back following another 100-reception, 1,000-yard campaign.

Larry is going to come back,” Johnson said, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “He’s still playing at a high level.”

Johnson told Florio he hopes the team and his representation can begin negotiations on a new contract but added he remains focused on his rehab process.

Here’s the latest from the NFC:

  • Vic Fangio‘s new Bears contract is a three-year agreement, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com reports. The veteran DC said he had “a lot” of options but chose to stay in Chicago because he’s confident in Matt Nagy‘s direction for the team. Fangio said he won’t be gaining more defensive responsibility under Nagy than he had under the defensive-oriented John Fox, per Dickerson, because Fox gave him full autonomy to run the Bears’ defense.
  • Eli Manning and Dave Gettleman met recently, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports. While the new Giants GM described this as a “great conversation,” he added “I don’t want to go there” when asked about if the parties reached any closure about Manning’s status following the summit. Schwartz adds the Giants are “very likely” to select their quarterback of the future with the No. 2 overall pick.
  • The Giants are still likely to reach out to Patriots OC Josh McDaniels on Monday to see if he’s committed to becoming the Colts‘ HC as has been reported, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports. A source told Vacchiano that McDaniels would be the favorite if all of their finalists wanted the job, although Vacchiano reports a Giants source also described this year’s HC candidate pool as “uninspiring.” Pat Shurmur remains in line to become Big Blue’s next HC.
  • While it still sounds like Joe Berger has a maximum of two NFL games left, the Vikings guard (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) said he won’t decide until March or April if he’s done after this season or not. Berger said before the season he was likely to retire after 2017 and added one of the reasons he decided to come back was Mike Remmers‘ addition. “My thought is that this is it, but I’m not going to try to make that decision now in the middle of all this,” Berger said. Pro Football Focus graded the 35-year-old blocker as the No. 15 NFL guard this season.
  • Conversely, the Vikings winning a Super Bowl would not seem to dissuade Terence Newman from coming back for a 16th season and what would be his age-40 campaign. Newman said he’s optimistic he can remain an impact player in 2018, were he to decide to come back. “Let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, that I was able to (win a Super Bowl), then why not try to get two?’’ Newman said, via Tomasson. “You can look at it at both sides.” PFF graded Newman as a middle-of-the-pack corner this season. Newman’s playing on a one-year contract.

Vic Fangio To Return As Bears DC

It’s a done deal. On Friday, Vic Fangio agreed to return as the Bears’ defensive coordinator, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes. Vic Fangio (vertical)

There was some question as to whether Fangio would want to stay in Chicago after the firing of head coach John Fox and the hiring of Matt Nagy. Fangio was sought after by multiple teams, but he opted to stay put under the new administration.

The Packers were pushing hard to sign Fangio, but they instead chose to hire Mike Pettine. That might have something to do with Fangio’s price tag. Last year, he earned more than $2MM, and it’s possible that Chicago has given him an additional bump to stay on board. The Ravens also connected to Fangio and there were rumblings that Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur would recruit him if hired as a head coach.

The Bears ranked just 24th in points allowed last year, but placed 14th in defensive DVOA, so there’s definitely something for Fangio & Co. to build on. The team also has ~$42MM in cap space and the No. 8 overall pick to work with, so the Bears’ D could get even better in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Expected To Retain DC Vic Fangio

The Bears are now expected to retain defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to serve under new head coach Matt Nagy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Vic Fangio (vertical)

Chicago had reportedly to preferred to keep the 59-year-old Fangio (who is 20 years Nagy’s senior) in the fold, but Fangio — who also interviewed for the Bears’ head coaching position earlier this month — drew interest from several clubs around the league. The Bears put on a “full court press” to retain Fangio, tweets Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel, hinting that Green Bay’s decision to hire Mike Pettine may have been a result of Fangio’s reported $2MM price tag.

If he does indeed return to the Bears, Fangio will once again lead a defensive unit that ranked just 24th in points allowed but 14th in defensive DVOA, an indication the club was better on a play-by-play basis than overall. Defenders such as defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller, and safety Adrian Amos posted excellent seasons under Fangio’s leadership, and Chicago could use some its $42MM in cap space and/or the eighth overall selection to bolster the defensive personnel even further.

As PFR’s 2018 NFL Coordinator Tracker indicates, every team that had a defensive coordinator vacancy at the conclusion of the regular season has now either retained its incumbent DC or hired an external candidate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Fangio, Rams, Broncos

Free agent coach Vic Fangio is an extremely popular man at the moment — as PFR’s 2018 Coordinator Tracker indicates, Fangio is a candidate to return to the Bears or join the division rival Packers, and he could certainly be linked to more jobs as other head coaching vacancies are filled. But hiring Fangio won’t come cheap, as he was reportedly among the NFL’s highest-paid defensive coordinators last season with a salary in excess of $2MM, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The average DC, per Biggs, earns closer to $1.5MM annually, so any club that wants to add Fangio will likely need to pony up.

Here’s more from the coaching front:

  • The Rams have promoted assistant wide receivers coach Zac Taylor to quarterbacks coach, the club announced today. Taylor will replace Greg Olson, who left Los Angeles to become the Raiders’ next offensive coordinator under new head coach Jon Gruden. Taylor has previous play-calling experience, having served as the OC for both the University of Cincinnati and the Dolphins. But he won’t be leading the offense with the Rams, who also employ head coach Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. Instead, Taylor will help guide former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff as he enters his third NFL campaign.
  • The Broncos have a new special teams coordinator in Tom McMahon, tweets former NFL punter Pat McAfee. McMahon, who’s coached in the NFL for more than a decade, comes to Denver from Indianapolis, where he helped the Colts rank eighth in special teams DVOA. The Broncos, on the other hand, ranked 30th in ST DVOA under former coordinator Brock Olivo.
  • Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin has set up assistant coaching interviews with multiple AFC teams, reports Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link). While Arizona defensive coordinator James Bettcher was given a head coaching interview after Bruce Arians retired, Goodwin wasn’t afforded the same opportunity. Goodwin has interviewed for four head coaching positions over the past two seasons.
  • While the final decision to fire former offensive coordinator Mike Shula was ultimately left to Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, Rivera “kept the lines of communication” open with interim general manager Marty Hurney during the process, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

Packers Eyeing Vic Fangio For DC

The Packers are casting a wide net in their search for a new defensive coordinator, but one candidate stands at the top of their wish list. Vic Fangio is considered Green Bay’s top choice for the job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Vic Fangio (vertical)

As of this writing, the Packers have yet to schedule an interview, but they’re pushing to set one up. Meanwhile, new Bears head coach Matt Nagy is working to keep the highly respected coordinator in Chicago. The two NFC North teams may have to slug it out over Fangio and it may result in a bidding war.

Fangio, 60 in August, has NFL coaching experience dating back to 1986 and defensive coordinator experience beginning in 1995. He is a big proponent of the 3-4 defense, making him a natural fit for the Packers.

As shown on PFR’s Defensive Coordinator Tracker, the Packers are also considering former Browns head coach Mike Pettine for the job along with three assistants already on staff Winston MossDarren Perry, and Joe Whitt.

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Wilks, Bears, Chiefs, Cards

Steve Wilks has set up three interviews for this week. The Giants will receive the first opportunity to meet with the Panthers’ DC, with ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reporting (on Twitter) Wilks will trek to New Jersey to meet with the Dave Gettleman-led group on Tuesday before flying to Arizona to meet with the Cardinals on Wednesday. Following those meetings, the Colts will host Wilks on Thursday, Mike Wells of ESPN.com tweets. These aren’t the only teams interested in securing a sitdown with Wilks. The Lions remain interested in doing so as well, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

The Giants will complete both Wilks’ and Eric Studesville‘s interviews by Wednesday, with the former Broncos running backs coach set for a Wednesday powwow, per ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (Twitter link). This duo will mark the fifth and sixth interviews the Giants will have conducted. After these summits, Big Blue management could be ready to make a decision. With the Eagles still in the playoffs and no Jim Schwartz interview conducted, it could put the Giants to a decision: wait on Schwartz and risk losing some of these aforementioned candidates or hire one of them instead.

Here’s the latest from the coaching circuit.

  • A possible favorite has already emerged to replace Matt Nagy as the Chiefs‘ OC. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy will be “strongly considered,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The 48-year-old Bienemy served as Colorado’s OC from 2011-12 and has coached the Chiefs’ running backs since Andy Reid‘s arrival in 2013. Bienemy could have a clearer path to this job with former K.C. OC Brad Childress planning to retire.
  • Nagy wants to retain Vic Fangio with the Bears, both Peter Schrager of NFL.com and the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs note (Twitter links). But Fangio has interest elsewhere — from the Bengals and Packers — and could opt to depart Chicago after being passed over for the HC job.
  • Chicago may also look to retain a few assistants who worked under John Fox. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone is a candidate to stay under Nagy despite the new HC making his NFL name by working with QBs. The Bears respected Ragone’s work with Trubisky, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets, and adds Nagy and Ragone share an agent. Biggs tweets tight ends coach Frank Smith and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers are candidates to stay put as well.
  • The Browns‘ interviews with OC candidates Ken Zampese and Sean Ryan will take place this week. Rapoport reports (via Twitter) Zampese will receive the first meeting, which will occur today, with Ryan’s interview scheduled for Wednesday. A second-generation NFL assistant, Zampese spent the past 15 seasons with the Bengals before his second year as OC ended after just two games. A nine-year Giants staffer who is currently the Texans’ QBs coach, Ryan does not have any history with Hue Jackson like Zampese does.
  • Ron Rivera does not anticipate the Panthers making any staff changes beyond possibly replacing Wilks, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. This would mean OC Mike Shula is in line to return for a sixth season.
  • Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong‘s Cardinals interview is set for Monday in Atlanta, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. Armstrong is allowed to interview under NFL rules despite the Falcons winning in the wild-card round.

Packers, Bengals Interested In Vic Fangio

Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is receiving head coaching consideration from Chicago — he interviewed for that position on January 3 — and he is also drawing plenty of interest as a defensive coordinator elsewhere. Per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, at least the Bengals and the Packers wants to talk to Fangio about their DC vacancies.

Vic Fangio (vertical)

Biggs reports that Chicago recently denied the Bengals’ request to interview Fangio, but as of Tuesday, Fangio will be able to meet with whomever he wants, as both his three-year contract with the Bears and the end-of-season grace period that prevents coaches from bolting immediately without permission will have expired.

We learned yesterday that John DeFilippo would be open to retaining Fangio if DeFilippo is hired to become the next Bears head coach, and Biggs suggests that the Bears would like to keep Fangio as DC regardless of whom they hire as a head coach. Nonetheless, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune tweets that there are “significant doubts” as to whether Fangio would want to stay in Chicago under such a scenario.

The Bears have already interviewed a number of head coaching candidates and are interviewing Chiefs OC Matt Nagy today (see our up-to-date head coaching tracker here). But even if Fangio is open to remaining with the Bears as a DC, it could be difficult for Chicago to keep him if their head coaching search stretches on too long, as he is likely to have opportunities to accept or decline in the near future. Nagy, though, is the last-known candidate for the Bears to interview, as it does not appear as if they will get a shot at the highly-coveted Steve Wilks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Cardinals, Bears, Bengals

After the Titans’ exciting victory over the Chiefs, one has to imagine that coach Mike Mularkey is off the hot seat. Still, there are a number of head coaching vacancies left around the league.

Here are the latest coaching rumors from around the NFL:

  • Mike Munchak‘s interview with the Cardinals will take place on Sunday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • If hired by the BearsJohn DeFilippo would be be willing to retain Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, Peter Schrager of NFL Network (on Twitter) hears. The Bears want Fangio back, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter) adds, but other teams and head coaching candidates are interested in bringing him on staff.
  • Linebackers coach Jim Haslett will remain on the Bengals‘ defensive staff, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). However, Jacob Burney (defensive line) will not be returning, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News tweets.

Bears Interview Vic Fangio For HC Job

The Bears announced that they have interviewed defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for their vacant head coaching position today. The interview was conducted by GM Ryan PaceVic Fangio (vertical)

Fangio could have a leg-up on the competition as an in-house candidate. This obviously wasn’t a banner year for the Bears, but Fangio’s defense did manage to finish 14th in league DVOA in 2017, according to Football Outsiders. That’s rather impressive considering the so-so talent that he had to work with and injuries to linebackers Leonard Floyd, Willie Young, and Pernell McPhee.

Fangio joins Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks as known candidates for the job. Fangio could have the inside track, though the team may prefer an offensive-minded coach to work with young quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.