Joniak's Journal: Bears' Vic Fangio Sees Defense Working Together

Jeff Joniak
September 06, 2018 - 6:17 pm

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Jeff Joniak's latest reporter's notes, as the Chicago Bears get ready for their season opener at Green Bay on Sunday.

First Impression

Always blunt and to the point, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is great with context and perspective. When told he was getting Khahil Mack last week, his response was simply, “Great”. Gauging Mack’s immediate impact on the defense for Fangio comes with a cautionary tale.

“He’s been the same player in Oakland throughout his career,” Fangio said. “Very well decorated and a lot of honors that he’s deserved. You know, Oakland was never better than the mid-20’s on defense, so one guy doesn’t make a whole unit.”

One fact is undebatable: Fangio knows Mack will make others on the unit better, and vice-versa.

“I mean, anytime you add a good player it makes other players better. Just like good corner play will make him better. Good inside linebacker will make everybody better. It’s a chain reaction, domino effect and hopefully that’s what we will see.”

Kyle Fuller worked out with Mack during the 2014 draft process and praised his work ethic and tenacity. The new teammates are poised to help make the defense dominant. Fuller’s coverage could lead to Mack sacks and pressures.  Those would speed up the opposing quarterback’s clock and ideally lead to more interceptions and errant throws.


Second Thought

Rookie receiver Anthony Miller is ready for the bright lights of prime-time football.  Not one time has this young man from Memphis shied from the spotlight.

“I’m going to dive right in, man. As soon as I get out there I will give it everything I’ve got,” Miller said. “I don’t care who’s across from me. I am going to give a 100 percent every play.” 

Hearing Bears-Packers is the biggest rivalry in football piques Miller’s curiosity and competitiveness.

“I couldn’t have come into a better situation as a rookie to show my talent than to be in a game like this. I am just blessed with the opportunity, and you know I am going to give it everything I’ve got Sunday night.”

Miller called the week of preparation “great.”  He said plays have been set up for everyone in the offense.


Third Degree

Every team has what coaches and front office personnel men like to refer to as “glue guys.” The contenders have more than just one. The Bears have several, including running back Benny Cunningham.

“Yeah, I would consider myself one of those guys on this team,” Cunningham said. “It’s fortunate that we have a lot of those guys this season, but I most definitely consider myself one, you know, to try pull guys together, push the practices, compete with guys like Jordan (Howard) and make sure he’s being who he can be and the little things like that.”

Cunningham is one of the three captains selected by Head Coach Matt Nagy for Sunday. 

“I really appreciate it from the coaching staff and my teammates. It is always an honor and privilege when you get the opportunity to represent the team as a captain.”

Cunningham is an outstanding communicator. He commands the respect of the running back room and on the special team units. 

“I love people. I love football. I love my teammates. I love the game itself. Just the opportunity to play this game—how blessed we are to be around guys from different places, from different ethnic groups. Just to be around all of that in one and see how it works together, I just love it.”

You can hear more about Cunningham and his leadership in the five o’clock hour of Sunday’s Countdown to Kickoff on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM.



Online sports retailer Fanatics reports Khalil Mack’s new Bears jersey ranks as the fifth-highest seller in the NFL during the preseason, and he hasn’t even been a Bear for a week.

“Oh no, I didn’t see that,” said Bears running back Tarik Cohen. “I don’t know how he passed mine.”  

That signature quick wit of Cohen’s makes him fun to interview.  


Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.