The Chicago Bears coaching staff has hemorrhaged assistants this offseason. Not a huge surprise as changes almost became inevitable after another disappointing season. Nowhere was that clearer than on defense. After finishing with an ugly final stretch, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano opted for retirement. Since then, no fewer than three of his primary assistants have departed for other teams. Now his replacement Sean Desai, the Bears’ former safeties coach, must find a way to fill all of those spots.
This despite the common knowledge that head coach Matt Nagy could be entering 2021 on the hot seat. A lot of people expected he might be fired. Even though he wasn’t, it’s apparent that unless he delivers a winning record and a playoff run next season, he is likely out. Why would credible coaches come to such a situation with so little long-term security?
Despite his inexperience, the young new coordinator has to make something happen. Fortunately for him, and the Bears, he has some strong connections at both the NFL and college levels.
Sean Desai has some interesting options he can explore
Jethro Franklin (Defensive line)
This is a connection that Desai goes way back with. He and Franklin first got together in 2010 at Temple University. Franklin was the defensive line coach then and the two would head to Miami together the next year in 2011. The 55-year old has plenty of NFL experience. He was the defensive line coach in Green Bay from 2000 to 2004, during which he helped mold future standout pass rushers like Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Aaron Kampman.
Better still? He was the defensive line coach in Oakland from 2015 to 2017. That’s the same time Khalil Mack won Defensive Player of the Year. Since then he’s been the assistant defensive line coach in Seattle where they’ve gotten great results from guys like Jarran Reed. This is somebody Desai absolutely should bring in.
Mark Collins (Inside linebackers)
Collins actually has connections to head coach Matt Nagy through his friend and Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Collins was the outside linebackers coach in 2015 and 2016 for the New York Jets. Then he headed off to Jacksonville where he took over their linebackers job and morphed guys like Telvin Smith and Myles Jack into playmakers. He has the experience and a solid track record. He even has a big fan in two-time Super Bowl winner Tom Coughlin.
Bill McGovern (Outside linebackers)
This is another connection that Sean Desai has going back to his college days. He spent a year at Boston College in 2012. McGovern was the defensive coordinator on that team. Since then both ended up making their way to the NFL. McGovern found plenty of success as a linebackers coach. Guys like Connor Barwin, Olivier Vernon, and Markus Golden produced really well under his direction. He’s also the one who turned Luke Kuechly into a future top 10 pick at Boston College. The guy knows linebackers.
Paul Williams (Safeties)
Somebody Desai got to know a lot at Temple and has continued to coach defensive backs in the college ranks ever since. He’s produced a number of future draft picks including two-time Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams. His experience and familiarity with the 3-4 defensive system would make him a logical choice to fill Desai’s former position on the staff.