The Chicago Bears defensive coordinator hunt remains ongoing. With plenty of twists and turns too. Chuck Pagano retired. Top in-house candidate Jay Rodgers elected to leave for Los Angeles to join the Chargers. Meanwhile several of their external options have created mixed reactions. James Bettcher and George Edwards have prior coordinating experience but in different schemes. Jonathan Gannon is an up-and-coming name in Indianapolis as is Aaron Glenn in New Orleans. Then on top of that, Bears legend Mike Singletary popped on the radar as well.
It’s clear the team isn’t being constrained by things like scheme or background. They’re looking for the best candidate they can possibly land. Amidst the search, there are some interesting additional details. A source informed me that two other noteworthy names besides head coach Matt Nagy are involved in the process. One is GM Ryan Pace and the other is star pass rusher Khalil Mack.
This isn’t such a bad approach.
Mack is the best player on that defense. Getting him involved in the process sends the right message since keeping him happy is one of the main goals for the coaching staff. Word is he made a couple of recommendations including Jack Del Rio and Dennis Allen. Both are currently defensive coordinators with other teams though. Mack worked with both during his days in Oakland.
Pace? People might see that as him meddling but this isn’t entirely fair. The GM was involved in the search that eventually landed Vic Fangio back in 2015. He has a deep background on the defensive side of the ball that should aid Nagy in the search process. Word is he was a big advocate of Glenn as one of the top candidates before Detroit officially hired him.
Next Bears defensive coordinator is taking a big risk
If they do end up hiring from the outside, whoever the guy ends up being will face a tricky situation. He’ll inherit a talented roster but one that is also getting a bit on the older side. Mack will soon turn 30. Akiem Hicks, Robert Quinn, and Danny Trevathan are also in their 30s. This is typically around the time when players start to slow down. Hence why the defense lost a lot of its edge towards the end of the season.
The hope would be that the next Bears defensive coordinator can squeeze at least one more really good season out of them. If they succeed? Their profile gets instantly elevated. However, if they fail then the team likely flops in 2021 and he could find himself out of a job after just one season. This reality can make it difficult to land quality candidates. So the team must be careful and explore every possible avenue to find the right guy.
A lot of jobs are at stake. They can’t afford to get it wrong.
If one could be called a favorite at this point, it is probably Bettcher. He worked with the team as a consultant this past season. He runs a 3-4 defensive system and is the only one they’ve interviewed with actual coordinating experience where he called plays. On top of that, he has ties to Todd Bowles who is good friends with Nagy. Unless another name emerges, he is the one to watch.