The Chicago Bears are losing a quality position coach on the defensive side of the ball, and they’re going to have a huge hole to fill as a result. Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers is well-respected throughout the NFL, and he has been with the team since 2015. As first reported by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Rodgers will be heading out of the Windy City to pursue a new opportunity in sunny Los Angeles, as he just joined new Chargers head coach Brandon Stanley’s staff.
The Defensive Line Coach of the Year in 2018, Rodgers was said to be one of two in-house candidates for the Bears vacant defensive coordinator position in the wake of Chuck Pagano’s retirement. Instead, he will likely be the Chargers’ new defensive coordinator, although his role hasn’t been officially specified with his new team yet. The 44-year-old assistant came to Chicago from Denver in 2015, when John Fox was named the Bears’ head coach, and he has made his mark and earned the respect of his players.
Defensive linemen Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris, Bilal Nichols and Eddie Goldman have all excelled under his tutelage, and role players like Nick Williams, Brent Urban, Mitch Unrein and Mario Edwards have blossomed working with Rodgers, as well.
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Rodgers Was One of Bears Most Talented & Respected Coaches
His colleagues and players have had nothing but high praise for the journeyman coach, and it’s clear how much he’ll be missed in Chicago. “Great coach, great coach,” Hicks said about Rodgers in 2019, via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports. “Jay Rodgers’ strengths are my weaknesses. My strengths are his weaknesses. I think we pair pretty well together — like Jack and Coke.”
Pagano once called Rodgers “a quarterback coaching the defensive line … I think we’d all love to have him teach our kids sixth-grade math, algebra, geometry … because the way he breaks it down for those guys, it’s unbelievable.”
There’s a good reason he has such a keen offensive mind. He’s a defensive coach who played quarterback for the Indiana Hoosiers from 1996-98, and he has also worked as a quarterbacks coach. Here’s a look at his resumé:
- LSU (2001) — Offensive Graduate assistant
- LSU (2002) — Defensive Graduate assistant
- Dodge City Community College (2003) —
- Passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach
- Missouri State (2004) — Quarterbacks coach
- Stephen F. Austin (2005–2006) — Quarterbacks coach
- Iowa State (2007–2008) — Wide receivers coach
- Denver Broncos (2009–2010) — Coaches assistant
- Denver Broncos (2011) — Defensive quality control coach
- Denver Broncos (2012–2014) — Defensive line coach
- Chicago Bears (2015–present) — Defensive line coach
Rodgers May Not Be the Last Bears Coach Heading Out
According to Biggs’ report, Rodgers could be the first of a few key position coaches walking out the door for the Bears: “It’s possible more coaches will depart as well. Passing game coordinator Dave Ragone has been linked to Arthur Smith’s staff with the Atlanta Falcons, and league sources say Ragone very well could [go] there. There also is speculation in league circles that running backs coach Charles London might leave for the Falcons,” Biggs wrote.
If this is true and both London and Ragone depart, it will be the third consecutive season under head coach Matt Nagy that the team has had a decent amount of turnover on the coaching staff. Hold on tight, Bears fans. The assistant coaching carousel has yet to stop spinning in Chicago.