Bears coaching changes trickling out, for different reasons

Bears coaching changes trickling out, for different reasons

John Fox laid out the NFL reality that there would be changes in his coaching staff after a 3-13 season. In the day since the final loss, at Minnesota, four coaches have exited, for different reasons, but coming with interesting possible implications.

Exact details of any personnel move, staff or player, are difficult to ascertain.

Running backs coach Stan Drayton, whose career goal is to become a college head coach, left to join the staff at Texas. Outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, who was blocked by the Bears from considering a move to the Miami Dolphins and coach Adam Gase last offseason, passed on a contract extension from the Bears and is on the market. The Dolphins, who are at Pittsburgh on Sunday in one AFC wild-card playoff game, hired Matt Burke last January to coach linebackers after Hurtt was unavailable.

Fox said on Tuesday that his coordinators remained “intact” but the organization did not retain assistant secondary coach Sam Garnes, who played safety five seasons under Fox while the latter was defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Garnes was an assistant DB’s coach under Fox in Denver, and he coached safeties there from 2011-14 and with the Bears the past two seasons.

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But Garnes was not a choice of coordinator Vic Fangio, who was not pleased with safety play during seasons marked by the two lowest takeaway totals in franchise history, including tying the NFL record for fewest takeaways with 11 this season.

Over Garnes’ two years working with safeties, the group had just two interceptions (both by Harold Jones-Quartey), four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in a total of 1,992 opponent plays.

The Bears also fired offensive line coach Dave Magazu, who oversaw a generally successful season that saw the Bears tied for seventh in fewest sacks allowed and No. 6 in rushing average. Magazu had coached with Fox since 2003, in Carolina, Denver and finally Chicago.

Bears keep coordinators Dowell Loggains, Vic Fangio 'intact'

Bears keep coordinators Dowell Loggains, Vic Fangio 'intact'

Shakeups are inevitable at the ends of football seasons, all the more so when the result is the 3-13 disaster that the Bears’ 2016 was. And a number of changes within the coaching staff were in process on Wednesday, although none at the highest levels.

Besides GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox being retained for the third years of their tenures – “Under Ryan’s leadership and with John’s coaching, we think we can get there,” said Chairman George McCaskey after coach and GM had addressed fans and media at Halas Hall – both offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will remain in place for 2017.

“I can tell you that our coordinators are intact,” Fox said. “There were different reports throughout the season. It's probably too early to say [as far as changes], almost like who you're going to sign as a player. We're in that process, guys are under contract.”

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Offensive line coach Dave Magazu and safeties coach Sam Garnes were let go after their two seasons here despite long working histories with Fox, who declined any comment on those situations.

Running backs coach Stan Drayton is leaving for a post at the University of Texas.

“His goal in life was to be a head coach in college and it was a great opportunity for him,” Fox said. “Those kinds of things happen when you have good coaches, but we're excited for [Stan].”

Cre'Von LeBlanc sees 'blame' differently than Vic Fangio on Rodgers-Nelson play

Cre'Von LeBlanc sees 'blame' differently than Vic Fangio on Rodgers-Nelson play

The nightmare of Jordy Nelson streaking by Cre’Von LeBlanc and under a 60-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers is past, and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was blunt on Tuesday that the rookie defensive back was not the culprit.

“Obviously if anybody’s at fault there, it’s me,” Fangio said. “I wouldn’t lay that blame on Cre’Von.”

LeBlanc hadn’t heard or read Fangio’s comments as of Wednesday. And he would never flatly contradict his boss’ boss. But LeBlanc pointed to his own technique error and mental mistake and did not agree with Fangio blaming himself for something the veteran coordinator had no control over.

“At the end of the day, you appreciate it,” LeBlanc said of Fangio’s comments. “But Coach is not out there on the field. He made the call but no matter what call he relays to us on the field, on the defense we’ve got to execute it to the best of our ability.”

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LeBlanc started turning to his right to run with Nelson as the receiver bore down on his spot in the deep middle. When LeBlanc turned, Nelson adjusted immediately and broke to LeBlanc’s left, gaining two steps and enough separation for Rodgers’ pass to settle uncontested into Nelson’s hands.

It was a lesson for a rookie at the expense of two elite-level veterans, and LeBlanc’s first reaction was his own accountability.

“As a player I can’t sit here and say the blame is on coach Vic,” LeBlanc said. “My technique has to be better, I’ve got to not stay so heavy on the [first-down] sticks and play from top-down [taking away the deep throw first].”