Bears have de­ci­sions to make on de­fen­sive staff

Daily Southtown - - SCOREBOARD - By Brad Biggs bm­[email protected]­bune.com Twit­ter @BradBiggs

By mov­ing swiftly to re­place Vic Fan­gio with ar­guably the best and most ex­pe­ri­enced coach with a back­ground in a 3-4 scheme, the Bears took care of the most im­por­tant step at the start of their off­sea­son.

Chuck Pagano and Fan­gio worked to­gether with the Ravens in 2008-09, so the new de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor is quite fa­mil­iar with what the Bears have been do­ing on de­fense for the last four sea­sons.

Now it’s a mat­ter of sort­ing out who will work­ing along Pagano un­der coach Matt Nagy. Most ques­tions right now sur­round sec­ondary coach Ed Donatell, who is com­ing out of con­tract and will be able to choose what he wants to do with­out be­ing blocked.

It’s be­lieved the Bears and Bron­cos have in­ter­est in Donatell, who is cred­ited with help­ing im­prove the en­tire core of play­ers the Bears used at cor­ner­back and safety the last cou­ple of sea­sons. Donatell in­ter­viewed for the Bears’ co­or­di­na­tor job on Thurs­day, a day be­fore Pagano was hired. The Bron­cos po­ten­tially could of­fer Donatell that ti­tle in Den­ver, though Fan­gio is ex­pected to call the de­fense there. That ti­tle likely would mean a pay raise for Donatell as well. Or he could re­turn to the Bears and a team com­ing off a 12-4 sea­son and an NFC North ti­tle with a de­fense that will en­ter 2019 as one of the league’s best.

Out­side lineback­ers coach Bran­don Sta­ley is well-re­garded at Halas Hall, but he is not ex­pected to re­turn, ac­cord­ing to a source fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion. Sta­ley re­port­edly will in­ter­view with Fan­gio and the Bron­cos on Mon­day. That could be a case of the Bears al­low­ing Fan­gio to bring a trusted coach with him while giv­ing Pagano an open­ing to fill with some­one he has worked with pre­vi­ously.

An­other source said Roy An­der­son, who joined the Bears in 2017 as as­sis­tant de­fen­sive backs coach, is un­likely to re­turn. The team has not made any an­nounce­ments since re­leas­ing news of Pagano’s hir­ing. An­der­son worked with Pagano on the Ravens staff and then with the Colts from 2012 through 2015.

The coach­ing carousel is fluid, es­pe­cially when it comes to po­si­tion coaches and as­sis­tants. Ru­mors fly, and one mak­ing the rounds Sun­day morn­ing was that the Bears could con­sider Rob Ryan, the son of Buddy Ryan, ar­chi­tect of the 1985 Bears de­fense. Rob Ryan has been a de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the Saints, Cow­boys, Browns and Raiders and last worked for the Bills as head coach/de­fense in 2016. Ryan was the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in Oak­land when Pagano worked un­der him as a sec­ondary coach.

An­other name some won­dered about is John Pagano, Chuck’s younger brother, who is a senior de­fen­sive as­sis­tant work­ing with out­side lineback­ers for the Tex­ans. Whether or not he’s avail­able re­mains to be seen. John Pagano also has been a co­or­di­na­tor pre­vi­ously with the Raiders and Charg­ers.

It likely won’t take the Bears long to work through staff ad­just­ments. It’s not like last year when Nagy, a first­time coach, was build­ing a staff from scratch. Some ex­pect a de­ci­sion on Donatell to come soon. Pagano is well-re­spected, and the Bears are an at­trac­tive desti­na­tion.

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