Should Bears be worried about facing ex-defensive coordinator Vic Fangio knowing them too well? Maybe not

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If the Bears shock the NFL world and take the measure of the Denver Broncos under ‘he-really-knows-the-Bears’ head coach Vic Fangio, it shouldn’t be a complete stunner, regardless of the Bears’ apparent shortcomings at quarterback and an opposing head coach with intimate knowledge of the Bears.

Because it will be anything but the first time.

The Bears saw legendary defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan leave after the 1985 season to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. In 1986, the Bears – with Mike Tomczak at quarterback – faced Buddy’s Eagles and rushed for 244 yards against a defense that featured Reggie White. The next year the Bears beat the Eagles 35-3 in a strike season, so set that one off to the side. But those Spare Bears beat Ryan’s strike Eagles with Mike Hohensee (and Sean Payton) at quarterback.

The 1988 Bears-Buddy meeting came in the Fog Bowl, a 20-12 Bears win in which the Bears, again with Tomczak under center (at least when anyone could see him), ran up 341 yards against a defense that had expanded to include Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner and Todd Bell besides White.

1989: Bears 27 Eagles 13.

Buddy was gone from Philadelphia after 1990, then resurfaced in ’94 as Arizona Cardinals head coach and proclaiming, “You’ve got a winner in town.” Not against the Bears – losing 19-16 to Chicago – and not enough in general, fired after going 4-12 the following year.

So, even with a mystique – and Ryan had one every bit as much as Fangio – the NFL still insists that you actually play the games, and they sometimes go no way close to what is expected. 

* * *

Did anything strike you as a little…off…last Monday watching Fangio and the Denver Broncos? 

The Broncos played like the antithesis of a team with a new head coach, which usually amps everything up if only because players are still working to impress the new boss. Presumably they didn’t. 

But what about Fangio impressing his new boss, football chief John Elway? 

Remember when Elway fired John Fox after four straight playoff seasons, including a Super Bowl trip, because he didn’t feel like Fox’s team played with sufficient fire in big games? “Two years in a row, it didn’t feel like we went out kicking and screaming,” were Elway’s words as Fox left.

If there was kicking and screaming against Oakland last Monday, must’ve missed it.

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