The Chicago Bears didn't have to search far to find their new defensive coordinator. In fact, the Bears chose their longest-tenured staff member. On Friday night, the Bears officially named former safeties coach Sean Desai as their new defensive coordinator. Desai, who has been with the franchise since 2013, will replace Chuck Pagano after he retired from coaching earlier this month.
Desai spent the past two seasons as Chicago's safeties coach. Before that, he served as the team's defensive quality control coach. Last season, the Bears boasted the league's 12th-best pass defense. Chicago was also eighth in the NFL in third down efficiency and fifth in red zone efficiency. Tashaun Gipson, Chicago's starting free safety, finished the season in a tie for the team lead in interceptions. Strong safety Eddie Jackson, a Pro Bowler the previous two seasons, set career highs in tackles (82) and forced fumbles (three) during the 2020 season. The success of their backfield helped the Bears clinch a playoff berth for the second time in Matt Nagy's three seasons as coach.
Desai, 37, began his coaching career in 2006, when he was named the defensive and special teams coach at Temple. He spent five years in that position before serving as Miami's assistant director of football operations for the 2011 season. Desai spent the 2012 season as Boston College's running backs coach and special teams coordinator before joining the Bears' staff.
As Chicago's quality control assistant, Desai worked with the team's linebackers and defensive backs while also assisting on special teams. Under his watch, Jackson, linebacker Khalil Mack and cornerback Kyle Fuller were tabbed as All-Pro performers during the 2018 season. Their success helped the Bears win their first division title in eight years.
Desai will have a talented group to work with in 2021. Along with Jackson, Mack and Fuller, the Bears' defense will also include linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. One of the NFL's biggest Pro Bowl snubs, Smith tallied 139 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions last season. Trevathan finished second on the team with 113 tackles.
Two areas the Bears' defense will have to improve in 2021 are turnovers and pass rush. Chicago was just 25th in the NFL in forced turnovers last season. Their 35 team sacks were good for 17th in the league.