Bears promote Desai to defensive coordinator

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — [Bears news release] Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has named longtime assistant coach Sean Desai defensive coordinator. He replaces Chuck Pagano, who retired last week following the 2020 season.

Desai, who has over a decade of experience as a coach at the NFL and collegiate levels, is no stranger to the Bears, having served on staff since 2013. He served as a defensive quality control coach from 2013-18 before coaching safeties the past two seasons. He will be in his ninth season with the Bears in 2021.

“We are very fortunate and excited to promote from within and announce Sean Desai has been named defensive coordinator for our football team,” Nagy said. “He is a person of high football intelligence, extremely detail oriented, has a very strong work ethic and I cannot think of someone more deserving to lead our defense. Sean is a family man of high character and the respect he has within our building from coaches, players and staff is unparalleled.”

Most recently in 2020, the Bears safety position was held down by fourth-year veteran Eddie Jackson and veteran newcomer Tashaun Gipson Sr. The group as a whole helped aid a defense that kept opponent passing attacks to 231.6 yards per game. Three of the position highlights last season were game-winning interceptions on the opponent’s final drives as Gipson picked off Matt Ryan in the final seconds of a Week 3 road win at Atlanta, DeAndre Houston-Carson taking one away from Teddy Bridgewater in a Week 6 victory at Carolina (and also breaking up a Tom Brady pass on Tampa’s final play the week before) and Sherrick McManis on the road at Minnesota on the final play.

In 2019, Desai helped guide Jackson (60 tackles, 2 INTs) to his second-straight Pro Bowl while safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix shined in his first season with the Bears (78 tackles, 2 INTs). Jackson and Clinton-Dix played a key role in limiting opposing offenses to 222.1 passing yards per game in 2019, a figure that ranked second in the NFC and ninth among all NFL teams.

As a quality control assistant from 2013-18, Desai worked with the Bears’ defensive backs and linebackers while also assisting the special teams coaches.

Desai joined the Bears after spending the 2012 season as the running backs coach/special teams coordinator at Boston College. In 2012, the Eagles led the NCAA in punt returns, averaging 21.7 yards per return. That season, Desai also coached Boston College running back Andre Williams, who went on to win the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back a year later.

Prior to his time at BC, Desai was the assistant director of football operations at the University of Miami (Fla.) in 2011 after spending five seasons at Temple (2006-10) as a defensive and special teams coach. In 2010, Desai was Temple’s special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach. At age 27, he was one of the youngest coordinators in the country. That season, Temple’s special teams ranked second in the nation in kickoff coverage, allowing just 17.4 yards per return. The defense ranked 16th in the nation in both total defense (317.7 ypg) and scoring defense (19.1 ppg). Temple’s defense also finished 15th in passing yards per game allowed (178.2 ypg) and their nine passing touchdowns allowed were tied for the second fewest in the FBS.

From 2007-10, Desai served as a graduate assistant for the Owls defense/special teams and academics. During his time as a graduate assistant, Temple’s special teams had the nation’s top kickoff return unit in 2008, averaging 26.6 yards per return while tying for second in the nation with two kickoff return touchdowns. In 2009, the Owls compiled their longest winning streak in program history (9), en route to the Mid-American Conference East Division Co-Championship and their first bowl game in 30 years.

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