CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears promoted safeties coach Sean Desai to replace retired defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano on Friday.
The longest-tenured member of the Bears’ coaching staff, Desai was hired as a quality control coach in 2013 under Marc Trestman. He worked with defensive backs and linebackers while also assisting on special teams through the 2018 season before being promoted to safeties coach.
Coach Matt Nagy called Desai “a person of high football intelligence” while announcing his promotion.
“The respect he has within our building from coaches, players and staff is unparalleled,” Nagy said in a statement.
The Bears made the playoffs for the second time in Nagy’s three seasons despite going 8-8 for the second straight year. They dropped six straight and eight of their final 11 games counting a wild-card loss at New Orleans.
Pagano retired after two seasons in Chicago and more than three-and-half decades coaching at the college and NFL levels.
Chairman George McCaskey announced last week the team is retaining Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace for at least another year, insisting the Bears have the culture to become a consistent winner.
The 37-year-old Desai will try to re-energize an effective unit that has taken a step back after dominating under former coordinator Vic Fangio.
The Bears’ defense spent most of the year in the top 10, only to struggle down the stretch and finish ranked 11th overall. A big issue was an inability to create game-changing plays. The Bears tied for 25th in the NFL in takeaways with 18 and finished with 35 sacks, 17th in the league.
Three-time All-Pro Khalil Mack had nine sacks in his second straight season finishing in single digits.
Desai joined the Bears after spending the 2012 season as Boston College’s running backs/special teams coordinator. He was assistant director of football operations at Miami (Fla.) in 2011 after five years at Temple as a defensive and special teams coach. He became one of the youngest coordinators in the country in 2010 when at age 27, he was put in charge of the Owls’ special teams.
Desai also earned a doctorate in educational administration from Temple in May 2008. He was an adjunct professor in the school’s master’s and doctor’s programs in educational administration in 2009 and 2010.
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