When we look at who is available for the Chicago Bears to replace Chuck Pagano at defensive coordinator, many names come to mind. Wade Phillips is a name many Bears fans would love to hear called when reports come out that the team makes a decision. I would not be opposed to this as Phillips has an unbelievable record. There have also been rumors that Kris Richard is a possible candidate too. Here’s the thing, neither of them should be given the opportunity.
When it comes to the Chicago Bears defense, whoever takes over needs to be more aggressive. The Bears were middle of the pack this year in team sacks with 35. Pittsburgh on the other hand led the league with 56. This is the second year in a row, both years under Pagano, that the Chicago Bears defense was unable to hit the quarterback. When it comes to the defensive line though, the Bears saw some great success. Why? The easy answer — Jay Rodgers.
Akiem Hicks has become a dominant, dare I say elite, defensive lineman since joining the Chicago Bears. Hicks made his first Pro Bowl under the tutelage of Jay Rodgers. He finished with 8.5 sacks that season after making himself known the year before with seven. Prior to that, Hicks never topped 4.5 sacks. Now, Hicks is being double-teamed more often. In a down year (only 3.5 sacks) in 2020, Hicks still came away with 27 pressures compared to 29 in 2017 when he had 7.5 sacks.
Jay Rodgers is an ideal defensive coordinator candidate for the Chicago Bears
When I look at this Chicago Bears team, I find that there should only be two approaches to replacing Chuck Pagano. The team should either look to bring in an established defensive coordinator such as Kris Richard or Wade Phillips, or the team should look to promote an up-and-coming guy who has never been a coordinator before. The catch to the latter option is that the up-and-comer should only be promoted from within.
This Bears defense is no longer young and spritely. The defense has some solid young players like Roquan Smith and now Jaylon Johnson. However, Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Robert Quinn and even Kyle Fuller are getting up there in age. Bringing in a younger, unestablished coach to take on a first-time defensive coordinator role sounds like a recipe for disaster. However, promoting Jay Rodgers makes perfect sense.
As Jay Rodgers is heating up in conversations and rumors as a potential defensive coordinator elsewhere, the Bears are likely to lose Rodgers this offseason if they do not promote him. This alone should not be the only reason to make the move, but Rodgers has proven himself wherever he has been.
He is more than just a defensive line coach too. He was an ex-quarterback who has experience as a passing game coordinator, quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach at the collegiate level. This should help eliminate the fears that some fans have in regards to Rodgers being able to run coverages with the secondary.
I am okay with the Bears bringing in the likes of Wade Phillips or Kris Richard, but I would prefer to give Jay Rodgers a real opportunity to take over for Chuck Pagano. He knows the players, he knows this team and he knows what worked under both Pagano and Vic Fangio. Jay Rodgers is my ideal candidate and who I want to see lead this Chicago Bears defense in 2021.