On the top shelf in Sean Desai’s office, there are boxes of bobble heads with iconic members from Chicago Bears history. There is Brian Urlacher, Walter Payton and Mike Ditka to name a few. Just below, in the center of the blue wall, are hand-written notes and pictures. Across his desk are some binders and notebooks.
Over Zoom, Bears fans got a glimpse of some of the layers that make up Desai.
On Monday afternoon, the Bears defensive coordinator spoke to reporters for his introductory press conference.
Here are the top three takeaways from Desai’s 24-minute news conference.
Bears defense won’t require a major overhaul
Since Vic Fangio left, the Bears’ defense has regressed in nearly every statistical category. Desai can’t dispute the numbers, but he used a car analogy to illustrate how the defense will become better.
“This is like a tune-up,” Desai said.
And he also knows he has the right players to get back on the right track.
“We are going to refine some things and we’re gonna make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis,” Desai said. “They’re going to buy into the system and the whys and hows of why we are doing certain things.”
Desai plans on implementing certain strategies in meetings and practices to ensure the defense sees improvement. But one of the biggest ways the unit will create those better statistics is if they capitalize on their opportunities.
This will fall on Desai calling the right plays and his players to execute them. If this happens, the defense can “really optimize all of our players’ abilities.”
One of the players that should be included in this is nose tackle Eddie Goldman. Even though Desai has not been given any indication on Goldman’s status for next season, he anticipates the defensive lineman will be a part of his defense in 2021.
Regardless of what other people may think, Desai is confident in what his defense can do in 2021.
Desai will be his own defensive coordinator and create his own identity
In Desai’s introductory press conference, the connection between him and Fangio was clear.
Desai called Fangio “one of the smartest football minds” he has been around. He also said that “Vic has been my biggest mentor in the NFL.” The 37-year-old defensive coordinator even plans on asking Fangio what he is calling on certain plays throughout next season.
When they were both in Chicago, Desai often watched his mentor call the plays.
“I sat next to him so 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,” Desai said. “Now, does that mean I’m going to do it the same way? No. Would he want me to do it the same way? No, right? This is going to be Sean Desai’s defense.”
And that defense will emphasize the importance of each individual knowing their role to ultimately make the unit successful.
“A lot of times sacks come as a result of coverage and takeaways come as a result of pressure,” Desai said. “So, it’s going to be all of us working together and buying into that concept and understanding our roles within the defense.”
As for Desai’s ideal identity for his defense, he wants it to be “palpable.” Desai wants the “physicalness,” “toughness” and “discipline” to all be felt whether someone is in the stands at Soldier Field or watching the game at home.
These are the attributes his defense will “hang their hat on.”
Desai has a strong support system in place
Desai wouldn’t be in the position he is today without his support system. He mentioned his parents, his wife and his kids all playing a key role in motivating him to keep pursuing his profession.
There are, of course, coaches like Fangio, Chuck Pagano and Mel Tucker who have also impacted Desai. And someone who will continue to provide that support is senior defensive assistant Mike Pettine.
“For us I think it’s going to be a resource,” Desai said. “I think Coach Pett is going to be able to help us on defense and help us on offense from a big picture perspective. He is going to be able to bring in ideas, as are other coaches are going to be able to bring in ideas. This is going to be an open environment.”
As a first-time defensive play-caller, Desai understands the importance of having someone with Pettine’s experience on the staff. Desai also sees the value in having a first-time coach in assistant defensive backs coach Mike Adams.
Desai was immediately intrigued with Adams’ “wealth of experience as a former player who is able to be resilient and endure through this league and survive and play at a high level.” Adams’ playing career also provides Desai with another perspective on how to view certain things.
All these individuals bring their own particular traits to the defense, which Desai believes creates a positive atmosphere.
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