The Chicago Bears cooked up top-10 defenses in each of the last two seasons under Chuck Pagano, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. And while Chicago’s defense is still loaded with stars, the unit saw Pagano ride off into the sunset and into retirement. So for the second time since becoming a head coach, Matt Nagy is looking for a defensive coordinator. Over the following days, we’re taking a closer look at some rumored candidates, their coaching history, what they bring to the table, their general desirability, and more.
Name, Current Team, Current Position
Jonathan Gannon, Indianapolis Colts, Defensive Backs/Cornerbacks Coach
• Indianapolis Colts (Cornerbacks/Defensive Backs, 2018-present)
• Minnesota Vikings (Assistant Defensive Backs/Quality Control 2014-17)
• Tennessee Titans (Defensive Assistant/Quality Control, 2012-13)
• St. Louis Rams (Pro Scout, 2011; College Scout 2009-10)
• Atlanta Falcons (Defensive Assistant/Quality Control, 2007)
Well, looky here:
The Bears interviewed Colts DBs coach Jonathan Gannon for defensive coordinator today, according to a league source.
He’s a popular DC candidate this cycle. There’s been reported interest from the Chargers and Falcons.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) January 20, 2021
A couple of nuggets from The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain, who tweets the Bears interviewed Gannon on Tuesday. Gannon is the second known candidate to interview with Chicago, after reportedly interviewing James Bettcher on Monday.
Gannon jumped on our radar earlier in the week when reports surfaced that the Bears were requesting an interview with the Colts assistant. Naturally, the Bears aren’t the only team interested in possibly hiring Gannon.
Albert Breer (SI.com) reports the Falcons could poach Gannon and have him serve in a Co-Defensive Coordinator role with Dean Pees. And that’s on the condition that the retired coordinator returns to the league after taking 2020 off. Let’s not discount the Chargers’ interest in Gannon, as noted by Fishbain. New coach Brandon Staley figures to handle defensive play-calling duties. However, this could leave Staley to snag a younger position coach to ride along as his coordinator.
If the Bears are looking for a young position coach who can possibly grow into a defensive coordinator role — much like the leap Brandon Staley experienced in going from an OLBs Coach to DC in L.A> — Gannon might be that guy. Gannon, who just wrapped up his third year as the Colts’ DBs/Cornerbacks Coach, has previous experience coaching defense while with the Vikings and Titans. Gannon received praise for his work coaching Xavier Rhodes with Minnesota and Indianapolis. Considering the Bears have young corners in the fold and primed to play significant roles, perhaps a coordinator who specializes in getting the most out of that position group makes sense. Getting the most out of Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, and Duke Shelley (among others) should be a priority.
They Said It …
“You know, when we had some new guys in there playing, the communication — everyone’s speaking Spanish for six weeks, and then all of a sudden a couple guys are speaking French. And what I mean by that is everyone has to be on the same page in the back end — not just the corner, nickel and the safeties, but the linebackers as well. So everyone needs to be on the same page. Everyone has to know what each guy’s doing within that call.”
Jonathan Gannon discussing the importance of communication in the secondary back in August. I’m reminded of a handful of costly communications breakdowns that led to opponent chunk plays. Cleaning that up could help more than we might otherwise think.