Packers finally free to talk to Vic Fangio about defensive coordinator job

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio watches before a game against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 24, 2017.

GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy concluded his interviews with in-house candidates for the open defensive coordinator position Monday and now will begin the process of assessing outside candidates.

Safeties coach Darren Perry and associate head coach/linebackers Winston Moss interviewed with McCarthy on Monday. Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. interviewed with McCarthy on Sunday.

A source said one of the established defensive coordinators McCarthy is expected to talk with is the Chicago Bears’ Vic Fangio, who has been mentioned often as a good fit for the Packers’ personnel.

Fangio was to become a free agent at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday after his contract officially expired with the Bears. He interviewed for the team's head-coaching position, but the Bears went with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.

Another source said it was likely Fangio and McCarthy would talk, but that so far he had not heard of any contact between the two. Fangio probably will receive inquiries from several teams, but the biggest selling point McCarthy has going for him is quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

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Fangio hasn’t been part of a winning team since coach Jim Harbaugh left the San Francisco 49ers after the 2014 season. He has been the Bears' defensive coordinator the past three years and oversaw their improvement from 14th in ’15 to 10th this season.

The Bears were working hard to try to keep Fangio, but the 59-year-old coach was keeping his options open. The Cincinnati Bengals were also interested in Fangio and asked for permission to speak with him Monday.

However, the Bears denied permission in a last-ditch effort to keep him, the Chicago Tribune reported.

On Tuesday, Fangio would be free to speak to any team in the NFL.

An outside candidate McCarthy reportedly will interview is former Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine. ESPN reported Pettine would meet with McCarthy on Tuesday.

Pettine has been out of football since posting a 10-22 record in two seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2014-15. Before that, Pettine was defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills (2013) and New York Jets (2009-12).

Pettine comes from the Rex Ryan coaching tree, having worked under him in Baltimore and New York.

In the same situation as Fangio is Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. His one-year deal also was to expire at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and it’s possible McCarthy will reach out to him.

Bradley runs the Cover-3 defense that Seattle made popular in recent years and was their defensive coordinator the year before they won the Super Bowl, leading them to the No. 1 ranking in scoring defense. He left in 2013 to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he went 14-48 in four seasons before being fired.

Another defensive coordinator McCarthy might be interested in talking with is the New York Giants’ Steve Spagnuolo. He was part of coach Ben McAdoo’s staff and received an interview to be their next head coach.

McCarthy is giving serious consideration to his three in-house candidates, particularly Perry and Whitt.

McCarthy is looking to revamp a large portion of his defensive staff. In addition to firing defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley, quality control coach Tim McGarigle left to take a job with Northwestern. And according to the Houston Chronicle, assistant defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery accepted a job Monday to be defensive line coach at Texas A&M.                             

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