LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Vic Fangio says he intends to return for a third year as Chicago's defensive coordinator.
Fangio denied a report saying he might be out after the season because of philosophical differences with Bears coach John Fox. Fangio said there is no friction between them and he wants to return next season. Asked if he expects to remain Chicago's defensive coordinator beyond this year, he said, ''I do.''
Fangio said he wasn't aware of the report until Fox informed him.
''He told me about it because he was all nervous about it, so I said, `Don't worry about it,''' Fangio said.
Big changes could be looming with the Bears last in the NFC North at 3-9 heading into Sunday's game at division leader Detroit.
Quarterback Jay Cutler might have played his final game in Chicago, with a season-ending shoulder injury and little guaranteed money remaining on the seven-year contract extension he signed in January 2014. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains could be on shaky ground with the Bears 30th in points scored. But Fox - who like Fangio is in his second year - had high praise for his assistants.
''I want our whole staff back,'' he said. ''Now whether that proves to be a reality or not, things happen. Guys get jobs, get head jobs, get chances to advance their careers. Like any of the projection stuff, I just stay away from.''
The report about Fangio was a surprise because the defense has been one of the bright spots in a lost season.
''I think our staff is tremendous. ... I couldn't be more proud of our staff,'' Fox said. ''I'll just leave it at I am very, very pleased with our staff.''
Fangio came to Chicago with a reputation as one of the league's top defensive coordinators following a successful four-year run in San Francisco. Chicago, which has prided itself over the years on stifling opponents with units led by Butkus and Singletary and Urlacher, had a defense that ranked among the worst in franchise history before Fangio arrived.
The defense comes into Sunday's game ranked seventh overall and sixth against the pass despite a lengthy line of injuries, not to mention linebacker Jerrell Freeman's four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs. The Bears have been getting production from young players such as rookie linebackers Leonard Floyd and Nick Kwiatkoski.
Floyd, the ninth overall pick, had two sacks in last week's win over San Francisco. He has seven on the season, along with a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a safety, despite missing three games with injuries.
Fangio insisted his relationship with Fox is fine, that it hasn't changed, and that he gets plenty of autonomy from a head coach with a defensive background.
''We pretty much do what I see fit to do 98 percent of the time,'' he said.
The other two percent?
''Well, I'm always going to leave you a little bit there. Nothing's . that's just the way it is,'' Fangio said.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL.