Joniak's Journal: Vic Fangio Supports New Helmet Hit Rule

It could be a mess at first, but Vic Fangio believes players will adjust soon.

Jeff Joniak
July 31, 2018 - 6:02 pm

BOURBONNAIS (670/WBBM) -- The Bears continued with another practice session at training camp Tuesday. Soon enough, they'll be in game action. Chicago faces Baltimore in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Thursday evening. Here are the notes and observations of the day.

First impression

Now in his fourth season in Chicago, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio remains refreshingly honest and never prone to hyperbole. His media sessions are always informative, direct and good for at least one history lesson, which I love. On Tuesday, his take on the difficulty officiating the new helmet rule was a beauty. 

"One of the most non-football rules ever put into football was the five-yard illegal contact rule," Fangio said. "Coaches from the '60s rose from the dead. Today, they would want to go back in their grave with that rule."

If you don’t love that quote, you don’t love veteran football coaches.  

His point is that coaches and players adjusted to that rule. Players will eventually adjust the way they tackle, block and run now that it’s an enforced foul to initiate contact with the helmet.  

Fangio is all for improving the safety of the game and the motives behind the rule. He just doesn’t know how it’s going to look here in the preseason. 

Some of his other comments showing skepticism were:

"I’m just not sure in some cases if it’s feasible."

"It's going to be an extremely hard play to officiate other than the super obvious."

"We'll see. I don't know."

Players are expecting the preseason to be difficult as it pertains to this rule. Everyone knows preseason games could be littered with yellow laundry.

Second thought

Coaches often have different perspectives than fans and media when it comes players who are absent, be it because of injury or in the case of Bears rookie Roquan Smith because of a contract holdout. Coaches coach who’s available and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about who's not in uniform. Missed practices are missed opportunities, and when they begin to stack up, the worry grows.

"Great ones adjust," Fangio said of Smith's absence. "We'll adjust. Obviously, it’s not advantageous to anybody that he’s not here. I’ll just leave it at that."

Fangio used linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski as an example of a recent player who missed practice in his rookie season. He was injured in his rookie camp and also missed games last season before finishing strong. Many believe he’s an ascending player. 

Third degree

Bears rookies and young players will receive more chances with an additional preseason game on the slate with the Hall of Fame Game.

A player like undrafted rookie running back Ryan Nall will likely get more touches than he would otherwise get to impress the coaches and front office.

"I’ll be pretty excited," Nall said. "A little amped up, a little bit juiced, but at the same time trying to stay calm, trying to keep my head level and remember it’s just a game."

Nall started playing football in fourth grade. That his first NFL snap set to come on the grounds of the Pro Football Hall of Fame resonates with Nall, who's hopeful he can meet Bears legend Brian Urlacher, who will be inducted into the Hall on Saturday.

"He’s obviously one of the greatest players to play this game," Nall said. "It’s an honestly and honor to play in this game."

Nall was recruited out of high school to play linebacker, but Oregon State was one of the only schools to offer him a scholarship to run the ball. And running back was his first love. 

Nall believes his skill set, size, speed and traits fit in the Bears' new offensive system under first-year coach Matt Nagy.

"I can complement that nicely, kind of doing the same thing in terms of being kind of a power back when needs to be but at the same time can go out and space and catch a ball and at the same time make somebody miss in space," Nall said.

Nall hasn't played special teams since his freshman season at Oregon State. He's aiming to be a four-phase special teams player as well and will need to put a dent into that in order to have the best chance to make the final roster. 


Have I mentioned that rookie Anthony Miller is an outstanding receiver? Every practice, he makes a play. This offense is going to be ideal for him. I sound like a broken record, but it’s true.  

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