CHICAGO – When the Bears play the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, take a good look at Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
When asked Thursday what he thought of Zimmer, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had this to say: “He’s done a great job.
“Mike’s been a coordinator in the league for a while. Finally got his opportunity, was qualified and capable, and Minnesota recognized that and didn’t worry about where he came from or what his playoff success had been; they just knew they were getting a good football coach.
“Ultimately that’s what you want in your head coach – a leader and a good football coach. Mike’s been that for a long time and been able to continue that as a head coach.”
So has Vic Fangio, and I don’t know about you, but it’s impossible for me not to imagine he was stating his own case for the soon-to-be-vacant Bears position.
John Fox could keep the job.
But the cow could jump over the moon, Santa could trade in his sleigh for a Hummer, and the National Organization for Women could vote Harvey Weinstein as Man of the Year.
It seems nearly certain the horse already is out of the barn leading Fox out of town, so is that a reason to throw the baby out with the bath water?
The Bears are really close to being a very good defense, and the biggest reason is Fangio.
Obviously, Bears general manager Ryan Pace agreed when he denied the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan a chance to talk to Fangio last offseason about their open coordinator spot.
Sometime between now and my deadline early next week, Zimmer is going to get my vote for 2017 Coach of the Year, based on his No. 1-ranked defense and No. 10-ranked offense, not to mention “Zim” took his main competitor – Sean McVay’s Rams – to school a few weeks ago in a 24-7 beatdown.
The Vikings’ boss didn’t have to wait quite as long as Fangio, but he did spend 20 years bouncing around before Minnesota GM Rick Spielman and the Wilf family struck gold.
Zimmer was turning 58 in 2014 when he got the Vikings job.
For Fangio, it has been 31 years and seven NFL stops in search of his chance at the age of 59.
I wondered some more whether Fangio was campaigning or just being glib Thursday when he responded to a statement about the rarity of Zimmer finally getting a chance as a graybeard when he said, “Especially if they’re not coaching offense.”
The idea that the Bears must hire an offensive-minded head coach is really dumb. They need a highly qualified head coach – offense- or defense-oriented – capable of identifying a great offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
My gut tells me Fangio is that guy, and if he needs a little help in his offensive search, I expect buddies such as Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw could give him plenty.
Asked whether being a head job is his ultimate dream, Fangio responded, “My ultimate dream when I got into coaching was to be a high school head coach and live happily ever after.
“You know, things happen. Sure, I’d like it, but I don’t take it personal or think I’m any less better or less qualified than anybody else because certain people are looking for certain parameters in their searches.”
When asked Thursday about the Bears re-signing Kyle Fuller, Fangio replied, “You want to keep as many guys as you can because there’s carryover. But that isn’t always possible. That’s between Kyle and the management.”
Yes, this time he was talking about Fuller, but is that all he was talking about?
Assuming Fox is a “Black Monday” casualty, Pace can search as far and wide as he wants for the best next head coach of the Bears.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t make the mistake of not at least taking a really good look at who is right under his nose.
• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.