DeFilippo's Past Says Bears Made Wise QB Coaching Hire

Gene Chamberlain

In John DeFilippo, the Bears have a quarterbacks coach whose career indicates improvement through experience.

He's had flops to go with tremendous success, but there's no denying his best seasons came as a quarterbacks coach and not an offensive coordinator.

No one would have confused DeFilippo of 2007-08 when he started in the NFL with the DeFilippo who was offensive coordinator in Jacksonville last year when a rookie quarterback came in and outplayed a Super Bowl MVP who received an $88 million contract. His humble beginnings bore no resemblance to 2016 and 2017 when he helped mold Carson Wentz into a player who could put the Eagles in position to win a Super Bowl.

When DeFilippo started as a quarterbacks coach he was immediately saddled with fringe quarterbacks, or players who never accomplished much.

Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell and Andrew Walter made up his non-Fab Four of quarterbacks with the 2007 Raiders and they had a combined 57.6 completion percentage, three more interceptions than touchdowns and a 70.9 passer rating to go with 6.4 yards an attempt. The next year they still had Russell, Walter and added Marques Tuiasosopo but remained at very low levels of quarterback play, with a 71.6 rating, 52.7 percent completions and 6.3 yards an attempt.

 What could be said was DeFilippo had a hand in helping Russell produce the only non-rotten season of his forgettable three-year career, with a low 77.1 rating. At least it wasn't like his other two seasons with 55.9 and 50.0 ratings.

With the Jets in 2009, DeFilippo was saddled with another rookie quarterback project, Mark Sanchez, he of butt-fumble fame. And 20 interceptions to 12 touchdown passes pretty much tells the story.

It was enough for DeFilippo to be out of the NFL and back in college for two seasons before returning with the moribund Raiders for three more years. Some guys are glutton for punishment, it seems.

Not a whole lot changed as the Raiders kept bouncing from quarterback to quarterback until getting Derek Carr in 2014 and then it changed for DeFilippo.

When he arrived back with Oakland, he got an excellent season out of a respectable quarterback for a change, veteran Carson Palmer: 4,018 passing yards, 61.1% completions and 22 TDs to 14 interceptions with a passer rating of 85.3 and yards per attempt of 7.1. Then the Raiders went to Terrelle Pryor and Mat McGloin at quarterback and the bottom fell out with horrendous numbers before Carr's 2014 season proved a launching point of sorts for DeFilippo.

Carr's rookie season wasn't one for the books, especially his 5.5 yards an attempt and 76.6 rating, but he had 21 TDs to 12 interceptions and showed promise for the future.

A few years later, DeFilippo took on Wentz as Eagles quarterbacks coach and brought him from a 79.3 passer rating and 6.2 yards an attempt as a rookie to a 101.9 rating and 7.5 yards an attempt in his second year, the season the Eagles won the Super Bowl. His best quarterback coaching job might have been after Wentz's injury because Nick Foles had an entirely mediocre regular season, averaging 5.3 yards an attempt with a 79.5 passer rating. But he delivered in the playoffs.

It has to be noted it's the only time in his NFL career as a quarterbacks coach he was able to work longer than one season with someone other than Russell.

Each time DeFilippo stepped up to pro offensive coordinator, he lasted a season or less. The Vikings fired him before the start of December because they didn't like how he ignored the running game. Yet Kirk Cousins actually enjoyed a higher passer rating (101.9) under DeFilippo than at any point in his career and he had 22 touchdown passes to seven interceptions then as well as ridiculously accurate 71.1% completions. The same pattern existed when DeFilippo failed with the Jaguars as offensive coordinator last year, but Minshew far exceeded the quarterback stat levels of most rookie sixth-round draft picks. 

In his other offensive coordinator post with Cleveland in 2015, DeFilippo was saddled with another of those Raiders-style quarteback fiascos with McCown, Johnny "Football" Manziel and Austin Davis in an attack ranked 30th in scoring.

The easy conclusions to draw are DeFilippo is best as a quarterbacks coach, and will succeed if given just decent talent.

The question is whether GM Ryan Pace can do this for him.