DL Coach Jay Rodgers and Safeties Coach Sean Desai Emerge as Top Internal Candidates to Replace Chuck Pagano

Chuck Pagano’s retirement opened up what should be one of the most desirable assistant coaching jobs in the NFL.

No matter how you feel about the Bears’ postseason ouster, Chicago’s defensive coordinator gig is a premier one. It should entice an attractive field of candidates. Among them, a pair of internal options have emerged as possible fits:

Defensive Line Coach Jay Rodgers and Safeties Coach Sean Desai are top in-house candidates, per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. Rodgers is one of the holdovers from the John Fox era, having coached Bears defensive linemen since 2015. Desai has been on Chicago’s staff for longer than Rodgers. The Bears’ safeties coach started as a quality control assistant in 2013. Which, yes, means he coached during the Marc Trestman era. You must be doing something right as a coach to survive the Trestman and Fox dismissals.

Both internal candidates figure to get real consideration, but Chicago might have to move with the swiftness to retain Rodgers. As Rapoport notes, Rodgers’ contract expires next week. Moreover, Rodgers figures to be a candidate for coordinator roles elsewhere around the league.

In other words, the Bears need to move quickly if they feel strongly about Rodgers as their next DC.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

To be clear, Rodgers and Desai don’t figure to be the only candidates vying for the job. However, they appear to be early favorites for the time being. And while we’ll get to other, external possibilities later, I think it might be best to temper expectations right now.

With Head Coach Matt Nagy having just two seasons left on his deal, he could be on the hot seat early in 2021 if things don’t start with a bang in Chicago. Because that possibility exists, potential defensive coordinators could be hesitant to want a job that comes with minimal job security. On the other hand, a coordinator could see an opportunity to get their hands on some stars and coach their way onto the next staff. Remember, Vic Fangio and his staff were holdovers from the John Fox era — so that timeline repeating itself is a real possibility if the right candidate lands in Chicago.

So stay tuned. Our obsessive defensive coordinator watch is only beginning.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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