It looks like Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor may be the first of Matt Nagy’s coaching staff to depart.
The Bears, of course, fired Nagy along with general manager Ryan Pace on January 10 and immediately began their search for new team leadership. While new regimes often come with their own staff of hand-picked coaches, it’s not unusual for a coordinator or two to stick around when a new coach comes aboard, either.
Tabor has been with the Bears since 2018 when Nagy was hired, and he has established himself as one of the best ST coordinators in the business. He may be taking his talents elsewhere, though, because according to top NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers — who are going through changes of their own — are interviewing Tabor for the same role.
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Tabor Has Been Solid Since Joining the Bears
While Chicago’s offensive and defensive units have been inconsistent in recent years, Tabor’s special teams groups have been consistently good, with the punt return unit finishing in the top 10 three of his four seasons with the team.
The Bears finished 4th in the NFL in punt return average this season (11.7 yards per return), 12th in kickoff return average (23.1 yards) and they were one of just two teams with a punt return for a score on the season, courtesy of Pro Bowl WR/KR Jakeem Grant. Tabor and the team’s other assistants were well aware their jobs may be in peril if and when Nagy was fired, but some had hoped he might be retained by the yet-to-be-named head coach.
“The outside noise is the outside noise,” Tabor said on January 6 in reference to rumors of Nagy’s firing. “And when you get into this profession, you know what you sign up for.”
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Bears Offensive Coordinator Will Likely Follow
Tabor is a solid coach, and if Carolina hires him away from Chicago, it’ll be a huge loss for the Bears. He also served as interim coach for Nagy once this season when the ex-head coach tested positive for COVID-19, so he has been a valuable leader in his time with the team. He did an excellent job navigating a roster plagued by positive COVID-19 cases all season, so it’s not a surprise to see other teams trying to snag him.
With Tabor potentially headed out, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will surely follow, but the primary question mark surrounds defensive coordinator Sean Desai, who had a solid first season as DC with an injury-plagued roster.
It’s possible whichever new head coach Chicago chooses could keep Desai aboard — he’s just 38 years old, a disciple of one of the NFL’S top defensive minds in Vic Fangio and led a defense that finished 4th in the league with 49 sacks — but that’s not a given by any means. With more changes still to come and Tabor with one foot already out the door, all eyes will now be on Desai. Stay tuned.