The Chicago Bears new special teams coach is not who most fans wanted

Chicago Bears (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears announced that they are hiring Richard Hightower to be their special teams coordinator. Fans on social media are not going to be too happy as it seems to me that many wanted Rich Bisaccia to be the next special teams coach. Here we go again with the first name jokes, but let me tell you that the Bears made the right choice on which “Rich” they hired.

Listen, Rich Bisaccia deserves his praise for what he did in Las Vegas this year. After Jon Gruden was fired due to some leaked emails in an internal investigation into the now Washington Commanders, Bisaccia stepped in as the interim coach. Bisaccia helped lead the team to a 7-5 record and a playoff birth. The team lost in the Wild Card round to the Cincinnati Bengals — one of two teams playing in the Super Bowl next week.

The Chicago Bears hire Richard Hightower instead of Rich Bisaccia as ST coach

Bisaccia deserves credit for helping keep that team together in a year that could have quickly spiraled out of control. The problem is, that doesn’t mean Bisaccia was a good special teams coach, nor should he be hired as on by the Chicago Bears. Let’s take a quick look at what he did with the special teams unit of the Raiders over the last four years:

"2021: 21st in Special Teams DVOA2020: 13th in Special Teams DVOA2019: 25th in Special Teams DVOA2018: 22nd in Special Teams DVOA"

If we look at how his unit performed, he only had one top-15 finish. That is not ideal and I never fully understood the love for Bisaccia outside of his proven leadership quality. Maybe that helps him as an interim head coach, but that clearly wasn’t working for him as a special teams coordinator over the last four years.

That said, if we look back at his days in Dallas (2013-2017), his units were consistently in the top 15. I would have been fine with the Bears hiring Rich Bisaccia as the next special teams coordinator but I’m also not going to be overly concerned with the hiring of Richard Hightower. If it were me, I would have fought harder for Thomas McGaughey, but it sounds as though he will be staying with the New York Giants. Don’t be too upset either if Bisaccia ends up in Green Bay.

If we look at how Richard Hightower has done as a special teams coach, the outcome has been slightly better, but he too has seen his units struggle at times. I wouldn’t surprised if George McCaskey pushed for this hire just because Hightower was with the Chicago Bears staff in 2016 as an assistant special teams coach and was the special teams coach of the 49ers who just blocked a field goal and also blocked a punt for a touchdown on a path to beating the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs this year.

Although the 49ers came through in the playoffs, the unit wasn’t as successful throughout the season. Here is how the 49ers special teams finished during Richard Hightower’s time in San Francisco the last five years:

"2021: 26th in Special Teams DVOA2020: 23rd in Special Teams DVOA2019: 12th in Special Teams DVOA2018: 14th in Special Teams DVOA2017: 11th in Speical Teams DVOA"

Richard Hightower at least saw three top-15 finishes during his five years in San Francisco, but the last two have been rough. While with Chicago in 2016, he helped the team finish seventh in the league in opponent drive start average. In 2015, Richard Hightower was the assistant special teams coach for the 49ers and the unit’s punt coverage ranked eighth, allowing just 6.4 yards per return. Prior to 2015, Richard Hightower saw time working with various offensive and defensive groups.