No one on this Bears defense is saying they've forgotten Vic Fangio and what their old defensive coordinator meant to their success.
It's just some are embracing inevitable change, regardless of how small.
"We are seeing some different looks out there that we haven’t seen with Vic," coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday at organized team activities. "It’s been neat.”
Of course, at this point no one is going to reveal what those are.
New coordinator Chuck Pagano hasn't insisted defensive players must adjust to his scheme. He's tried to blend his with the old one, and both have roots from the same team.
Players aren't walking around scratching their heads over what he's done with their old defense.
"We’re still working through that," Pagano said. "Again, it would be foolish on my part not to have some carryover considering what they’ve done.
"Vic and I were together at one point in Baltimore, so there’s some common threads that run through both systems and that’s a good thing for these guys and myself.”
Players have noted some differences in what they're being asked to do.
"He changed the little things around but we're still full go," safety Eddie Jackson said.
Defensive end Akiem Hicks said players ultimately make the defense, anyway.
"There maybe different in other places but one thing that there's no difference in is the guys on the field," Hicks said. "We've got a lot of great athletes on the field. Sometimes when you look out there on the field and you see our front seven and our secondary and you say to yourself there's athletes everywhere on the field. Its a pleasure to play with those types of guys."
Pagano served as defensive coordinator for one season with safety Ed Reed, linebacker Ray Lewis and a stout Baltimore Ravens defense.
Before that he was an effective defensive backs coach for the Ravens and for Cleveland and Oakland. His Browns secondary in 2003 tied a team record for fewest TD passes allowed and the Browns had 33 interceptions, including 28 by the defensive backs. The Ravens, under Pagano, went from ninth in fewest TD passes allowed to first.
He doesn't hesitate when asked if there's a similarity between this defense's personnel and Baltimore's of the earlier part of this decade.
"There's a ton," Pagano said. "Again I go back to the football character. We had a bunch of guys that loved football and loved playing for one another. The (Bears) football IQ is very very high. These guys study the game, they know the game and they spend a lot of time with each other studying the game. And then just from an athletic standpoint, personnel standpoint, the team that coach Nagy and Ryan have put together front to back, I mean, you've got speed, you've got athleticism at all three levels.
"And they work great together, they communicate really well together. So you've got to have pass rushers, we've got that. You've got to have corners who can cover, we've got that. You've got to have guys that can run and hit. We've got that. So a lot of parallels there, a lot of similarities."
One might be Ed Reed and Eddie Jackson at safety. Reed was seventh all time in the with 64 interceptions and Jackson just made All-Pro with six interceptions. He already has five TD returns off turnovers.
"Again, from a talent standpoint very, very similar," Pagano said. "Great instincts. Great range. Great ball skills. (Jackson's) only three years into it. Ed has a lot more time on task, obviously. He’s got a lot of the same traits."
Besides the twists in scheme, Bears players noticed a different personality type right away. Fangio often was described as a curmudgeon who didn't say a lot. But Pagano is always talking, and players said he showed up for practices ready to go.
After sitting out a year, like he did after being let go by the Colts, he had a lot of pent up fire.
"I was energized," Pagano said. "I had time to re-set, recharge. Again, when what you love, it’s been taken away from you and you know you have an opportunity to be back doing what you love, that’s coaching and being around great coaches and great players and guys that love ball — it’s real easy.
"The culture around here — you’ve got to have energy and you’ve got to have juice. And if you don’t have energy and you don’t have juice and you don’t have passion, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb and probably not going to be around long."