11 candidates for Bears defensive coordinator
With Matt Eberflus set to become the next Bears head coach, the attention now turns toward who he can bring in as his top assistants.
The next defensive coordinator will inherit a group with several valuable pieces in place. Pass rusher Robert Quinn and inside linebacker Roquan Smith were All-Pro performers last season.
Eberflus will be heavily involved in the defense. He has been a defensive assistant his entire career.
Here are candidates for the coordinator position.
James Bettcher, 49ers senior defensive assistant/run game specialist
Bettcher, 43, was the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants under head coach Pat Shurmur from 2018-19. He took the 2020 season off before joining San Francisco. Bettcher came up under Bruce Arians. He interviewed for Bears' defensive coordinator last year.
Gus Bradley, Raiders defensive coordinator
Bradley, 55, was the defensive coordinator for the Raiders after serving in the same role for the Chargers from 2017-20. He was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2013-16, when his teams went 14-48.
Sean Desai, Bears DC
The best place to start might be with the man who has the job. Desai, 38, was a first-year defensive coordinator last season. He has worked his way up, starting out as a defensive quality control coach in 2013. The Bears hold him in high regard. Keeping him wouldn't come as a shock.
Ed Donatell, Broncos DC
Donatell, 64, served as Bears defensive backs coach from 2015-18 under coordinator Vic Fangio, then followed Fangio to Denver. Donatell's Broncos defenses were the best thing the team had going during the Fangio years.
Vic Fangio, former Broncos head coach
After three seasons as the head coach in Denver, Fangio probably doesn't have much desire to go back to his old job. But it doesn't hurt to ask. Fangio, 63, was the defensive coordinator in Chicago from 2015-18. He is reportedly interviewing for the Jacksonville head coach position.
Rod Marinelli, Raiders defensive line coach
Eberflus was the linebackers coach under Marinelli when Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Dallas. The two worked together five years in Dallas. With the Raiders head coach position in flux, Marinelli, 72, could be looking to make a move. He was the Bears' defensive coordinator under Lovie Smith from 2010-12, and was head coach of the Lions from 2006-08.
Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebackers coach
Mayo has interviewed for head coaching jobs but has little reason to bolt New England. Mayo, 35, has three years of NFL coaching experience, and played for the Patriots from 2008-15. He has leadership qualities teams look for, but limited experience.
Mike Pettine, Bears senior defensive assistant
The Bears scooped up Pettine last year after the Packers fired him from their defensive coordinator position. Pettine, 55, was previously a head coach with the Cleveland Browns (2014-15). He spent one season as a senior defensive assistant for the Bears. He has been an NFL defensive coordinator for three teams.
Jay Rodgers, Chargers outside linebackers coach/run game coordinator
Rodgers, 45, worked for the Bears as defensive line coach from 2015-20. He interviewed for the team's defensive coordinator position last year, but the team went with Desai.
Rob Ryan, Ravens inside linebackers coach
Ryan -- the son of legendary Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan -- is a Stevenson High School grad. Eberflus and Ryan worked together in Cleveland (2009-10) and in Dallas (2011-12). Both times, Ryan was the defensive coordinator and Eberflus was the linebackers coach. Ryan has been the inside linebackers coach in Baltimore for one season after stepping away from coaching in 2020.
Joe Whitt Jr., Cowboys secondary coach/pass game coordinator
Whitt, 43, is a longtime Mike McCarthy assistant. He was the Packers' cornerbacks coach 2009-17. He went from the Browns (2019) to the Falcons (2020) before reuniting with McCarthy this season.