Fangio, Broncos welcome Bears to Denver
First-year head coach Vic Fangio will face his former team -- which still includes many friends -- when the Denver Broncos host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon.
The 61-year-old Fangio spent the previous four seasons as the Bears' defensive coordinator before the Broncos hired him for their top job during the offseason. Now, instead of working alongside Chicago head coach Matt Nagy, Fangio will try to frustrate him.
Nagy knows a big challenge awaits.
"We always reference (Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy) Reid as the ‘beautiful mind' on offense, and I think you could easily say on defense that Vic has a beautiful mind," said Nagy, who served as an assistant for Reid before joining Fangio and the Bears. "He's a guy that is very, very, very intelligent football-wise. He understands the game really well.
"There are a lot of guys that are that way, but when you can teach it to the players so it makes sense to them and they can play fast, that's probably one of his biggest strengths."
Fangio downplayed the potential effect of his familiarity with Nagy and the Bears come Sunday.
"I was only there with them one year in their current offensive system," Fangio said. "I don't think it's a tremendous advantage other than knowing the players."
Chicago (0-1) must figure out a way to turn things around against Fangio and the Broncos after a disappointing season opener against the Green Bay Packers. The Bears struggled badly on offense, scoring only three points on a field goal by Eddy Pineiro.
Meanwhile, Denver (0-1) also wants to avoid an early two-game skid. The Broncos will make their home debut after losing 24-16 on the road against the Oakland Raiders on Monday.
The matchup features a pair of hot-and-cold quarterbacks on opposite ends of their careers.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who turned 25 last month, is set to make his 28th start. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has shown glimpses of his potential, but he also has invited criticism with his difficulties reading defensive coverages at times.
Trubisky is confident that he and his teammates can regroup against the Broncos.
"All the mistakes we made, they're fixable," he told reporters.
For Denver, quarterback Joe Flacco will look for his first victory with his new team after spending the previous 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Flacco has played against the Bears three times, posting a 1-2 record with five touchdown passes and four interceptions.
The 34-year-old got a vote of confidence this week from Broncos executive John Elway.
"You could tell that Joe knew what he was doing and had been there before," Elway said during an interview with radio station KOA. "I think Joe would also tell you he wishes he could have some throws back, but again, he did a lot of good things and gave us a chance to win."
Both teams feature star pass rushers in Khalil Mack of Chicago and Von Miller of Denver. Fangio also will rely heavily on second-year defensive end Bradley Chubb, who racked up a dozen sacks as a rookie in 2018.
The Bears could be without tight end Trey Burton, who missed last week's contest and was limited in practice Wednesday because of a groin injury. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman also was limited because of an oblique muscle injury.
Broncos right tackle Ja'Wuan James is expected to miss a few weeks because of a left knee injury. Elijah Wilkinson will start in James' place against the Bears.
--Field Level Media
© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained in this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.