The Chicago Bears hiring Chuck Pagano to replace Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator was eventually going to have a domino effect. It was only a matter of time before the first one fell.
A source informs Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune that Outside Linebackers Coach Brandon Staley will not return for a third season with the Bears. That means Pagano won’t be the only new coach on the defensive side of the ball in 2019.
Staley coached outside linebackers the last two seasons after replacing Clint Hurtt, with the 2018 campaign being the most successful. Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, and Isaiah Irving combined for 20.5 sacks, 38 quarterback hits, and 24 tackles for loss in what was a strong year for that position group. And while Mack obviously elevated the play around him, we saw Floyd and Irving show some strides in their development, with Lynch showing flashes of the player he was in San Francisco.
As for a replacement for Staley, Biggs reports the rumor mill churned out an intriguing name that will certainly pique the interest of some Bears fans.
Rob Ryan could be in line to replace Staley as outside linebackers coach. Rob is a seasoned NFL coach who happens to be the son of Buddy Ryan, the legendary mastermind behind the 46 Defense that propelled the 1985 Chicago Bears to Super Bowl glory.
Ryan hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2016 when he was an Assistant Head Coach under his brother Rex with the Buffalo Bills, but spent time with the Miami Dolphins during training camp in 2018 in something of a consultant’s role. Prior to that, Ryan has 12 years of experience as a defensive coordinator in the pro ranks and four more years of running defenses at the collegiate level. He also has four years under his belt as a linebackers coach for the New England Patriots.
It’s worth noting that Ryan has connections to both Pagano and Bears GM Ryan Pace. Pagano coached the Raiders’ defensive backs in 2005 and 2006 when Ryan was Oakland’s DC. Ryan also crossed paths with Pace in New Orleans. Pace was the Saints’ Director of Player Personnel in 2013 and 2014 while Ryan was running Sean Payton’s defense from 2013-15. Don’t you love it when connections bring everyone together?
Hiring Ryan would be a nod to the franchise’s past, while also looking toward its future – especially when it comes to the development of Floyd, Irving, and whoever else the Bears bring in to round out their group of outside linebackers. The addition of Ryan could also set the team up with an in-house candidate should Pagano use this opportunity to run the Bears defense as a one-year springboard to get a second shot at being an NFL head coach. Pagano interviewed with the Packers and Broncos for their positions, and we just saw what a dominant Bears defense can do for someone’s résumé and how it can help a long-time assistant achieve a long-time goal of becoming a head coach in the NFL.
If anything, bringing in Ryan to Chicago would spice things up and bring a little added juice to Halas Hall. But until an announcement comes down, we’re left to wait and wonder what changes could come about with a new sheriff in town running the defense.