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Choosing the Best Leftover Parts

The new Bears coach will have a choice of keeping some of the assistant coaches and here is a rating of those who might be appealing to a new regime.

A new Bears coach will come in and have the decisions to make on who he hires as coordinators and position coaches.

Matt Nagy's assistant coaches are technically under contract still, so it's always possible some could be retained.

With a new general manager also coming in, it's possible it's best to start from scratch and let all of the assistants leave. This eliminates the possibility of bad feelings left within the organization. However, some scheme-based situations can make retentions possible.

For instance, a coach coming in hires a 4-3 defensive coach and might not want to keep around the outside linebackers coach or a defensive line coach might be hired for one-gap expertise when the team used a two-gap approach in the past.

It would be difficult to see some Bears assistants leaving for good. Don't look for anyone who handled quarterbacks here for obvious reasons. A 75.5 passer rating (29th in the NFL) after 87.0 the previous year shows how the position stepped backward in 2021.

Here's a ranking of most retainable assistants for any new staff.

1. Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor

Anyone who survived the Cody Parkey fiasco and made the team better afterward must be given consideration. The Bears had strong special teams in all categories except punt coverage in 2021, and considering the constant change of the roster due to the team's COVID-19 outbreak and injuries, it is amazing they weren't ranked last in both punt and kick coverage. But the kick coverage was middle of the pack. They took away Tabor's all-time great kick returner, Cordarrelle Patterson, and he made a solid one out of rookie back Khalil Herbert. He had to shuffle through several options at punt returner and Jakeem Grant made second-team All-Pro.  He lost Grant and Dazz Newsome looked very solid coming in as a replacement. Pat O'Donnell annually is one of the better all-around punters. Tabor even had to be head coach one game. Considering how special teams are not based on a particular scheme, like a 3-4 or 4-3, or a trend like an RPO offense, retaining a special teams coordinator is not necessarily a drag on a new head coach and can be an asset. Since  special teams are made of players at the bottom of a roster, Tabor could be an asset in this regard for the Bears because a new GM coming in could use the extra help getting familiar with all of the talent down to the bottom of the 53 men and into the practice squad. Tabor definitely has worked with those players and knows what they can do.

2. Outside Linebackers Coach Bill Shuey

Shuey did a spectacular job with Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson after Khalil Mack's season-ending foot injury and did this in his first year overseeing that position. Shuey is a very experienced assistant who actually could be capable of moving up a team's chain of command to coordinator. He also has worked in various schemes doing different positions and could be valuable regardless of how the new coordinator deploys a defense.

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3. Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai

If he stuck around at Halas Hall again it would be the fourth head coach he has been there working under.  He came in under Marc Trestman in a quality control position and has worked his way up to defensive coordinator. Desai didn't do a terrible job as a coordinator in his first try but had moments where his defense could have taken over a game or at least could have given the offense a chance to make a bid to take it back over, and they failed. The first Green Bay game comes to mind. The Pittsburgh and Baltimore games were easy examples of this. They also did enough to foul up some other games, like the season finale with Minnesota and the second Green Bay game. There were too many times these missed opportunities or complete disasters hit to make moments like the defense's incredible effort in the 17-9 loss to Minnesota using practice squad players stand above the rest. A new coach who has an offensive background and has no objection to Desai as coordinator could accept him. Any experienced head coach hired would probably want his own man as a defensive coordinator, someone he knew through networking over the years. More than anything, Desai seems to be wed now to the Vic Fangio system and someone who wanted this style defense might want to keep him.

4. Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo

His extreme emphasis on fundamentals and repetition simplify the position for linemen and make it easier in disaster situations like injuries. So often lines get changed around due to injuries or COVID-19 in this age and it can lead to disasters, so this must be considered a strength of Castillo's. If the Bears are going to continue revamping their offensive line, this approach can be of benefit. However, it's an approach which tends to result in a lower ceiling for the line. They rarely seem able to take that next step to elite status. Someone with a different approach might be able to take them to a higher level of blocking so they're able to cope with much better defenses. It's as if Castillo is the coach C to coach B guy and not the coach B to coach A guy. The line rarely had much success against extremely good defenses playing on better teams. They were able to block the mundane and poor defenses with their approach. A team could do much worse than Castillo but if the opportunity is there for better they should pursue it.

5. Tight Ends Coach Clancy Barone

A proven pro and long-time tight ends coach in the league, he'll always have work available if he wants it. Whether he wants to keep working here or perhaps try to catch on in Las Vegas or somewhere else closer to home might be the issue more than retention with a new Bears staff. Barone wasn't entirely successful. Cole Kmet made good second-year strides but seemed unable to come up with the big catch in the red zone this year. Jimmy Graham would appear to be through in Chicago and they really needed to have Kmet make enough impact in the red zone to indicate he can take over this role from the veteran. Also, Bears run blocking has always been spotty and the tight ends' role in this must come into question.

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