The Atlanta Falcons just poached two of the Chicago Bears’ most respected position coaches. Dave Ragone has been the team’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for the last four seasons, and Charles London has been the team’s running backs coach since 2018. Now, both are headed south to join new head coach Arthur Smith’s staff.
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported Thursday that London was leaving for Atlanta to be the team’s new quarterbacks coach, and his colleague Ian Rapoport broke the news that Ragone was slated to be the Falcons new offensive coordinator. Atlanta’s official team Twitter account Ragone’s hiring later Thursday, with an announcement on London likely coming soon.
We have announced three coordinators on Arthur Smith's coaching staff.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 21, 2021
Losing both Ragone and London means the Bears now have multiple coaching spots to fill on both sides of the ball. The team lost defensive line coach Jay Rodgers this week after Rodgers agreed to join new Chargers coach Brandon Staley in Los Angeles, and former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano retired after the season, so Ryan Pace and company have some interviewing to conduct in the coming weeks.
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London Has Been Key to David Montgomery’s Development
The 45-year-old London has been with the Bears for the last three seasons, and he has been a big part of both David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen’s growth on the field. Montgomery had a breakout season in 2020, finishing fifth in the NFL in rushing yards (1,070), averaging 4.3 per carry while scoring eight touchdowns.
He got his start in the NFL as a quality-control coach under former Bears head coach Lovie Smith from 2007-09, and he has also spent time as running backs coach for Penn State (2012-13) and the Houston Texans (2014-17). He’ll now move up the ranks to coach quarterbacks for the first time. London, who played running back at Duke University, spoke recently about how rare it is for running backs coaches to move up the NFL coaching ladder.
“History says being a running backs coach isn’t usually a pipeline that gets you to be a head coach. Obviously [Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy] is an exception. A-Lynn [former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn] is an exception. So it’s not like it’s never occurred. But the natural progression is quarterback coach to coordinator to head coaching position,” London told the Chicago Sun-Times last month.
“There’s a lot of talented guys that I know that are running backs coaches, receiver coaches, and maybe tight ends coaches that if given the opportunity in the league, they’d be very successful. They just need to be given the opportunity.” And now, he’ll have that opportunity — working with Falcons new OC Ragone.
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Ragone’s Departure Likely Means No More Mitch Trubisky
Ragone served as the Bears quarterbacks coach from 2016-19, and he was given the title of passing game coordinator this past season. He has been a source of information and comfort for Mitch Trubisky since the quarterback was drafted in 2017, and his departure could also be the surest sign of change to come at the quarterback position for the Bears.
A former quarterback who had briefs stints with the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals, among others, Ragone said this when he was named the Bears’ passing game coordinator: “First of all, [I’m] thankful for the opportunity to move into this role that coach Nagy and the organization provided,” he said before the season began, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “Having a chance to move into a coordinator role was something I thought was a great opportunity that I wanted to take advantage of.”
Now, he’ll get an even bigger opportunity — in another city with a different team.