New Bears defensive coordinator Desai credits mainly Fangio for his new job
When The Who released "Won't Get Fooled Again" it's certain they didn't have Sean Desai or Vic Fangio in mind.
It was 1971.
And it's not as if the Bears were fooled by Chuck Pagano -- Desai's predecessor as defensive coordinator -- since he did do a good job.
But Matt Nagy and company knew there would be differences in Pagano's philosophy and schemes, and Pagano was rarely able to replicate the pass rush and take-aways that were a hallmark of Fangio's Bears defenses.
The Bears are hoping they'll have no such issues with Desai.
"Vic has been my biggest mentor in the NFL," Desai said. "So, I think the biggest thing I am going to take from Vic is gonna be my preparation and my approach to the game, the buy-in I am going to get from the players and how to do that, teaching people the why's.
"I think he (Nagy) saw that and we're gonna have a clear and distinct vision, and we're gonna have an identity that obviously our players are going to know and embrace. I hope everybody in Chicago is able to identity and embrace it."
There will be differences in Fangio and Desai, and you should not assume the Bears current DC will be Fangio's second coming.
The biggest difference is Fangio was already a grizzled veteran, 56 years old, with 29 years of NFL position and coordinator coaching experience, and under consideration for head coaching jobs when he landed in Chicago.
Desai is 37 and has eight years NFL experience, six as a quality control assistant.
This is how Desai hopes to both replicate Fangio and be his own man/coach:
"We were both in the booth and I sat next to him," Desai said. "I was able to reflect on every game, within the game and after the game of why certain things happened, certain situations, why he called that.
"Now, does that mean I'm going to do it the same way? No.
"This is going to be Sean Desai's defense, and the 2018 defense was the best defense in 2018, and our goal is going to be the best defense in 2021."
And what does Desai expect his defense's identity to be?
"I think the first thing that's important to know is it's going to be something that's palpable, whether you're watching the tape, whether you're watching at home or whether you're in the stadium," he said.
"And a thing that you can feel our physicalness. You can feel toughness. You can feel discipline. You can feel a sense of swarming to the ball and finishing. Those are things that we're going to be able to hang our hats on."
While Desai sounds like he's fully prepared there is no denying the Bears hedged their bet by bringing in veteran coach Mike Pettine to work "with him" as a senior defensive assistant. I asked Desai how he expects that relationship to work.
"He's going to be able to bring in ideas, as our other coaches are going to be able to bring in ideas," Desai said. "This is going to be an open environment. I think that's a great thing for me as a first-time defensive playcaller, is to have some other perspectives.
"Obviously, as you guys have articulated well, two of my deficiencies: I haven't played in the NFL or coached in the NFL. I think I bring a different set of traits from everybody as well, which I think will be positive."
Asked if he is Pettine's boss Desai replied, "Well, I'm the defensive coordinator. And if there's a task that I need coach Pettine to do, then he'll do them for me, he'll do them for coach, just like anybody else. But he'll be a defensive assistant with us."
In the end, Desai left no doubt this will be his defense, or that Fangio will be his Yoda.
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