The Chicago Bears have found their defensive coordinator — and they didn’t have to look very far.
On Friday, the Bears elected to stay in-house, hiring safeties coach Sean Desai to take over for the recently retired Chuck Pagano, as first reported by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport and since confirmed by the team.
Desai first came to Chicago in 2013, when he worked as the team’s quality control assistant until 2018. He was promoted to safeties coach in 2019, and now, he’ll oversee the entire defense. The hiring of Desai, as Rapoport noted, is a historic one as the 37-year-old is believed to be the first person of Indian descent to become a coordinator in the NFL.
Big move for the #Bears: Chicago is hiring Sean Desai to be its new defensive coordinator, sources say. To my knowledge, the first person of Indian descent to become a coordinator in the NFL. They call him “Doc” for his doctorate at Temple, now they’ll also call him DC.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 22, 2021
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Desai a Popular Choice Amongst Former Bears Players
Desai’s hiring is already a popular one. On Monday, former Bears linebacker Sam Acho, who spent three seasons playing for the team while Desai was on staff, sent out a strong endorsement on social media in support of his former coach.
“The Bears don’t have to look far for their next DC. Sean Desai has been ready for that role for years. He was Vic Fangio’s right hand man for 4 years, & helped craft that defense to greatness. Smart, talented, knows ball and has all the credentials. All he needs is an opportunity,” Acho tweeted this week.
In a follow-up, Acho even called Desai a “brilliant defensive mind” in the mold of newly hired Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.
Desai is a spitting image of Brandon Staley. Brilliant defensive mind, scheme is out of this world.
— Sam Acho (@TheSamAcho) January 18, 2021
After the news broke that Chicago was promoting Desai on Friday evening, ex-Bears guard Kyle Long had this to say about the team’s decision.
Desai is the man – my rookie year he drew the cards for the scout defense i believe. He then ran scout meetings – worked his way up. Always the same guy too
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) January 22, 2021
As Rapoport also mentioned, the team refers to Desai as “Doc,” a nod to the doctorate degree he received in educational administration from Temple University in 2008. Often hailed for his unique combination of intellect and “bulldog” mentality, Desai is an intriguing choice for the Bears in a number of ways.
Desai Hailed From the Vic Fangio Coaching Tree
Bears fans know and love Vic Fangio, the current head coach of the Denver Broncos who served as Chicago’s defensive coordinator from 2015-2018. During that time, Desai became one of the veteran coach’s primary pupils.
According to Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic, Desai worked closely with Fangio before he left for Denver, and he detailed Desai’s role under Fangio in a 2018 feature story:
For the past four seasons, Desai has been a right-hand man for Fangio, helping with the linebackers and special teams, and then recently moving over to the secondary with Ed Donatell … During the week, Desai prepares opponent scouting information for the staff, working closely with Fangio to help build the playbook for the week. On gameday, Desai is up in the booth.
“To me, leadership is not necessarily about the title given to you,” Desai told Fishbain in 2018. “Regardless of the role, people around you earn your respect through your actions, and I think that’s where the best leaders grow.”
Now, he’ll have an opportunity to grow in a role many are saying he was made for. After hearing news of Desai’s hire, Acho sent out a congratulatory tweet promising “more of what you saw in 2018,” a nod to when Chicago was home to the league’s stingiest defense.
HUGE hire for the Chicago Bears. Congrats to Sean Desai on becoming the next Bears Defensive Coordinator. They’ve got some holes fill at D line coach and offensive skill coaches, but this is a step in the right direction. Expect more of what you saw in 2018 but w/ his own flavor
— Sam Acho (@TheSamAcho) January 22, 2021