New Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai hopes to bring back the dominant unit that Vic Fangio left. He met with the media for the first time and shared some of his ideas on how to do that.
One of the disappointing aspects of the Chicago Bears in the 2020 season was the subpar play of the defense. The unit ranked 14th in points allowed and 11th in total yards. Against the pass, the Bears defense ranked 12th in yards and 16th in touchdowns allowed. Against the run, they ranked 15th in yards allowed and 2nd in touchdowns allowed.
On the surface, those aren’t bad numbers. It’s a middle-of-the-road unit that had some success. The defense was stingy in giving up rushing touchdowns as you could see. Additionally, they ranked 8th in third-down conversions allowed and 5th in red zone touchdown percentage.
This is not a middle-of-the-road defense, however. With players like Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn, Kyle Fuller, and Eddie Jackson, among others, this should be a dominating defense. That hasn’t happened in the past two seasons, though. The Bears spent a lot of money on this defense for it to be an okay unit.
In 2018, Vic Fangio’s last season in Chicago, he had one of the best defenses of the decade. The unit ranked at the top of most of the major categories. Opposing quarterbacks could barely keep their throws away from Chicago Bears defenders, let alone complete them to their own receivers. Furthermore, running against the defense was nearly impossible. It took nine weeks until the Bears gave up a rushing touchdown, and it was quarterback Nathan Peterson of the Buffalo Bills who did it.
Fangio leaves and Chuck Pagano steps in
In 2019, Fangio departed Chicago to take the head coaching job for the Denver Broncos. As a result, the Bears went out and hired former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. Many felt that Pagano’s philosophy was having a more aggressive defense than what Fangio had. That didn’t happen, though. The defense regressed in the two seasons under Pagano. The defense went from being the most dominant in the league to a regular, non-descript unit.
Many expected big changes in Bears leadership after the season ended. Fans wanted to see either team president Ted Phillips, general manager Ryan Pace, and head coach Matt Nagy to leave. They also wanted Pagano gone.
Any combination of the four would make the fans happy. Instead, the only one gone was Pagano when he retired. The Bears started a search for a defensive coordinator again.
An old face becomes a new one
The Chicago Bears decided to hire from within. They hired safeties coach Sean Desai to take over the defense. Desai was Fangio’s top assistant when he was in Chicago. That means the Bears wanted to return to the success Fangio had.
The move was the first one that was applauded by many. The fans got excited and hopeful that the defense can return to its old, dominant ways. The players were also happy. They love Desai as a coach and loved that he got the promotion.
Desai recently met with the media. He gave his ideas on what he wants from the defense. The first thing he said that made people happy was that he would continue the philosophy Fangio had. He sat with Fangio in the coach’s booth and learned a lot from the great coach. He wants to continue what Fangio did.
Another thing Desai said was that the defense didn’t need an overhaul, just a tuneup.
So my analogies may not be great but this is like a tune-up. You know, we’re going to refine some things and make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis and they’re going to buy into the system and the whys and the hows of why we’re doing certain things. But we’ve got a good defense. We got really good players here.
A big thing that Desai mentioned was pressure and turnovers. The Bears had 50 sacks in 2018, then had 36 in 2019 and 35 this season. In terms of turnovers, the Bears had 36 turnovers in 2018. In the past two seasons, they had 37 turnovers combined.
Latest Bears News
- Chicago Bears: Desperation Could Help Team Land Big Quarterback
- Chicago Bears: Team Makes First Move To Add Salary Cap Space
- Chicago Bears: New Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai Meets With Media
- Chicago Bears Willing To Use Franchise Tag on Allen Robinson
- Chicago Bears: Quarterback Situation Could Be Better With Orlando Brown
It’s good to see that the old attitude of aggressiveness will return. With the pressure coming from the front, it’ll cause quarterbacks to make mistakes and create turnovers. Also, Desai wants the defense to be more physical. That is the best way to help the offense. If you check the statistics for the Chicago Bears offense in 2018, it wasn’t much different than in the years since. The offense ranked 21st in total yards and passing yards. However, it ranked 9th in scoring because of six touchdowns scored by the defense and the scores on short fields given to it by the defense.
Some people may have concerns about Desai’s inexperience. Yes, he’s been with the Chicago Bears for a decade but this is his highest position. Because of that, the team hired former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to assist him. Desai can run things by him and get advice on moves. Ultimately, Desai has the final word, but it’s nice to see he has a sounding board to assist him.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see if the Monsters of the Midway defense returns. If it does, it makes life easier for everyone on the offense.