The Chicago Bears will very likely be cleaning house after losing six straight games. Barring a miracle over the final four games of the season, head coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace, and perhaps even President and CEO Ted Phillips should all be ousted after a once promising 12-4 season in 2018 has been followed up with nothing but disappointment.
With the Bears likely to be looking for a new head coach soon, many names are being tossed around, from Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh to Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald — but another, more intriguing name is gaining momentum, and it’s a name the Bears and their fans are already familiar with: Brandon Staley.
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Rams DC Brandon Staley is Latest Hot HC Candidate
Staley served as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at James James Madison for a season, and the defensive coordinator/secondary coach for John Carroll University for three seasons before heading to the NFL in 2017. Vic Fangio chose Staley to be his outside linebackers coach when he was with the Chicago Bears that year, a role Staley kept for two years before heading to Denver to be Fangio’s DC in 2019.
Currently in his first year as the Rams’ defensive coordinator, Staley has crafted one of the best defenses in football in Los Angeles. LA is currently ranked second in the NFL in total defense, and they have arguably the most well-rounded unit in the league. They are also on pace to be one of the best second-half defenses in NFL history, shutting opponents down in the second half at a ridiculous rate so far this season.
The Rams have the best pass defense in football (they’re surrendering 198.3 yards through the air per contest) and they are ranked third against the run, allowing just 93.1 yards per game. Staley’s defense is allowing 20.3 points a game, and his numbers as Vic Fangio’s DC in Denver last season were nearly as impressive. The Broncos allowed 19.8 points, 111.4 yards on the ground and 225.6 yards through the air per game last year. They also didn’t have their best pass rusher, Bradley Chubb, for 12 games out of the season, so Staley produced great results with a limited roster.
Now, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated is one of a growing number of analysts labeling Staley one of the more “fascinating” head coaching prospects available — and he’s from the Vic Fangio coaching tree, which has to interest fans of the Chicago Bears.
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Bears Had a Chance to Make Staley Their DC, Instead, They Chose Chuck Pagano
The Bears had a chance to promote Staley from within in 2019, when Fangio was chosen to be the Broncos’ next head coach, but instead of hiring him as their next DC, they hired Chuck Pagano instead. The defense has unquestionably regressed under Pagano, and it’s clear now that Chicago made a huge error letting Staley go.
NBC Sports’ Adam Hoge made the following excellent point about the Bears and Staley on the Hamp, O’B & Koz podcast this week:
“He was here when (Khalil) Mack had his one dominant season with the Bears, and he followed Vic Fangio to Denver. And then, very quickly after one season in Denver, got hired by Sean McVay, who was tired of losing to Vic Fangio’s defense,” Hoge said, also pausing to ask a very reasonable question: “Shouldn’t the Bears have seen that Brandon Staley could have been Vic Fangio’s replacement?”
Yes, they should have — but they didn’t. Maybe a new regime will. Hoge was correct about Staley bring the best out of Khalil Mack and company, who haven’t looked the same since Fangio’s departure. Perhaps a disciple of Fangio’s is exactly what Chicago needs to get back on track.
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