Bears Fill Out Coaching Staff

Bears Fill Out Coaching Staff

With the NFL Combine set to begin next Tuesday (registration day) it was important for the Chicago Bears to fill the vacant spots on their coaching staff and today they did. According to the team’s website the Bears have hired Zach Azzanni as receivers coach, Brandon Staley as outside linebackers coach and, as has been rumored for days, Derius Swinton II as assistant special teams coach.

Azzanni, who replaced Curtis Johnson the drill sergeant-type wide receivers coach who went back to coach the New Orleans Saints receivers, will be working his first pro gig. He does have 18 years of college coaching experience. His last job was at Tennessee where he had a four year run beginning as the team’s receivers coach/recruiting coordinator and moving to passing game coordinator and receivers coach for the last two seasons. Prior to coaching the Vols he was the wideouts coach at Wisconsin where he had success mentoring Jared Abbrederis. And from 2007-09 he helped to develop future Pittsburgh Steelers star Antonio Brown while at Central Michigan.

Bears coaches

Zach Azzanni runs skills players through a drill at Tennessee

Staley also comes to the Bears without any pro experience. He began his college coaching career at Northern Illinois (2006-08) and quickly progressed through five other jobs landing at John Carroll the last two seasons (he was also there in 2013). At Carroll he was the team’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Last season the team had considerable success on defense ranking third in the nation in total yards (218.0), fourth in scoring defense (12.6), and seventh in third-down percentage (.257) and passing defense (139.7), per

One other encouraging stat, given Staley is taking over for Clint Hurtt who had success coaching the Bears’ outside linebackers, in 2014, his  defense finished second in the country in sacks per game (4.5).

Staley is a cancer survivor. At age 24 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Both his father and mother have also battled cancer, unfortunately his mother, Linda, lost her nine-year fight in 2004. (For more on that story CLICK HERE.)

Bears coaches

Players at John Carroll cite Staley’s leadership skills on and off the field

Swinton II returns to the Bears, he was assistant special teams coach in 2015. He left last season to become the San Francisco 49ers special teams coordinator. He’s been coaching professionally since 2009 with stints on the St. Louis Rams (2009-11), Kansas City Chiefs (2012) and Denver Broncos (2013-14). All of Swinton’s jobs have been with special teams. Last year he told the 49ers website that special teams, “don’t get a lot of the glitz and glamour, but you are a vital part of the game when you do it the right way.”

Swinton also says he likes to frame special teams work by telling players they are the starters, “I don’t know of a game that doesn’t start without the kicking team either receiving or kicking the ball.” He also points out that excellent players like Robert Quinn, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown all started their pro careers with special teams work.

Bears coaches

Swinton II says one of the things he’s learned from coach John Fox is that you can’t treat all players the same, but you can treat them all fairly.

The Bears are among the last NFL teams to have their full coaching staff locked in. Head coach John Fox has not had the continuity on his coaching staff that would help the team turn their losing ways around. Azzanni, for instance, is the team’s third different wide receivers coach under Fox. In total, the team will begin the season with six new coaches on the staff.

The other new faces include Jeremiah Washburn now taking over the team’s offensive line, Curtis Bodkins will helm the running backs, and Roy Anderson steps in as assistant secondary coach.

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.

Tags assigned to this article:
Brandon StaleyDerius Swinton IIZach Azzanni

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