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Castillo, Flip & Team Grades: Thoughts on the Off-Season (So Far)

| January 20th, 2020

The Bears offense was an abomination in 2019 and there was plenty of blame to go around. Here are five thoughts on what’s transpired since the end of one of the most disappointing campaigns in the history of this organization.


(1) The most pivotal decision made thus far (and unsurprisingly the first) was hiring Juan Castillo to rebuild the offensive line/run game. How did that happen? It’s pretty simple. Matt Nagy is in constant communication with Andy Reid, his mentor and friend. Reid’s recommendation was to get the run game fixed by getting Castillo. (And Andy was instrumental on making it happen.) This offense doesn’t want to be run first. But it needs to be run effectively. And under Helfrich/Hiestand, the rushing attack was disjointed and wildly ineffective. Relying on RPO concepts meant relying on the quarterback to make the right decision. He didn’t do that very often in 2019. Castillo will move the run game back down the hill.


(2) Nagy and Pat Shurmur had a deal done. Shurmur was going to be the next Bears offensive coordinator. But a day after I got word of the agreement, I got another word: “He’s got options.” The allure of Philly was strong. Shurmur is pissed off at the Giants and wanted to play them twice a year. The allure of Cleveland grew, even though he was fired there, because he has deep affinity for new head coach Kevin Stefanski. But ultimately it was Vic Fangio giving him the keys to the offensive kingdom in Denver that won the day. Now he’ll run half that program, nurture a young, talented QB and perhaps get himself a third shot at a head coaching gig.

[Side note: Shurmur was not turned off by working with Trubisky.]


(3) John DeFilippo interviewed to be the head coach of the Bears in 2018 and, since then, his star has been rapidly falling in the league. Why? Because many folks in the league don’t believe Flip is a play-caller. He’s a leader of men. He’s a teacher. He’s great on the whiteboard and even better on the sideline. But his talents are misused trying to figure out which run to call on third-and-one. Flip will make every QB in the 2020 QB room better. Now it’s just a matter of finding out who is going to be in that room.

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Final Notes on the Bears Coaching Staff

| January 22nd, 2018

Administrative Note: I’m doing one of those AMAs over at Reddit tonight at 6 pm CT. I don’t quite know how it all works so please stay tuned to DBB’s Twitter handle (on the right rail here at all times) for updated information. I have never been on Reddit or looked at one of these AMAs so I have no idea what to expect. But they asked so why the hell not?


We’ll be moving on to roster stuff and free agency soon enough but I wanted to put a punctuation mark on the coaching staff sentence after making a few phone calls and piecing things together.

  • Dave Ragone being kept on as QB coach was a difficult decision for Nagy but ultimately conversations with the Bears 2017 quarterbacks swayed him. I’m told the Bears had serious talks with former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing about the position but determined this relationship – quarterback and quarterbacks coach – would benefit from continuity. Downing, they believed, was itching to get back into the coordinator’s chair as quickly as possible.
  • The Bears want Mark Sanchez back. Mark Sanchez wants to come back. But Sanchez has not given up on being a substantial NFL contributor and there is a belief that he simply does not fit the offense the Bears are going to be running under Nagy/Helfrich. The Bears would be open to bringing Sanchez back as third quarterback should they move on a Chase Daniel-type as backup. It’s a waiting game on one of Mitch Trubisky’s most trusted sounding boards.
  • Many criticized Ted Phillips’ involvement in the coaching search. Early in the process he was the primary information gatherer on potential coaching candidates. Per a source, one of Phillips’ first calls was to Dave Toub on Matt Nagy and Toub gave a substantial, effusive endorsement of the Chiefs offensive coordinator. That endorsement went a long way with ownership and is a major reason the Bears landed their first-choice coach quickly.
  • Per source, money was never an issue for Vic Fangio. Coaching staff was never an issues for Vic Fangio. Relationship with the new coach was not all that high a priority for Fangio, either. I’m told concretely that Fangio just wanted to be closer to California, closer to his lady and friends. And once he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he never really considered coaching anywhere other than Chicago.
  • From the Twitter of me:

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