Pro Bowl players praise new Bears coaches John DeFilippo, Bill Lazor
Mitch Trubisky made the Pro Bowl last year. For him to ever return, both DeFilippo and Lazor will have to impress in their first year with the Bears.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was listing why he liked John DeFilippo— “He’s got a great work ethic, I think he’s got a great personality, he’s a player’s coach, he’s a good communicator,” he said — when he stumbled upon one of the reasons the coach is now on his fourth team in as many seasons.
“I really enjoyed working with him, and I was disappointed I didn’t get more time with him,” Cousins said after Thursday’s Pro Bowl practice. “But it’s my own fault.”
The Bears interviewed DeFilippo to be their head coach two years ago. He didn’t land the job, but left Philadelphia — where, as quarterbacks coach, he tutored Carson Wentz to a near-MVP season and replacement Nick Foles to a Super Bowl win — to become the Vikings’ offensive coordinator.
He didn’t last a year. With Cousins’ offense struggling in December 2018, Mike Zimmer fired DeFilippo as offensive coordinator in a move, he said later, to try to salvage the season. The Vikings lost in Week 17 to the Bears and missed the playoffs.
DeFilippo landed in the same role with the Jaguars last season, but was fired earlier this month — the same day the Bears named Bill Lazor offensive coordinator. By the end of the week, the Bears added DeFilippo as quarterbacks coach and promoted Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator. With head coach Matt Nagy calling plays, DeFilippo will work closest with Mitch Trubisky — and, likely, the veteran brought in to push him.
“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’
“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”
Trubisky spent last year at the same Pro Bowl practices Cousins attended this week. For him to ever return, both DeFilippo and Lazor will have to impress in their first year with the Bears.
Pro Bowl players praised Lazor despite the fact that, like DeFilippo, his teams have struggled in recent years. He spent last season out of the NFL after two unsuccessful seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.
In his first coordinator stop, Lazor schemed the Dolphins to the league’s 11th-highest scoring offense in 2014 before dropping to No. 26 the next year. Head coach Joe Philbin and both coordinators were fired before the end of the 2015 season.
Jarvis Landry can’t complain, though. The five-time Pro Bowl receiver had a career-high 1,157 receiving yards in 2015 after posting 758 as a rookie. He totaled 194 catches in his two seasons that began with Lazor as coordinator.
“He’s great at getting playmakers the ball,” said Landry, who was traded to the Browns two years ago. “His whole philosophy is misdirection and getting guys the ball in space that know what to do with it. I had two helluva years in that system.”
Landry still remembers the level of detail in Lazor’s planning.
“That’s something that goes a long way,” he said. “Being an offensive coordinator, you want to make sure every guy is in the right place at the right time for the quarterback. It was a quarterback-friendly system.”
Working with Lazor, Ryan Tannehill threw for 4,045 yards in 2014 and 4,208 the next year. Both would be the Bears single-season records.
“Ton of respect for Bill, and what he was able to do with my short time in Miami,” said Tannehill, who came off the bench for the Titans in Week 6 and eventually led them to the AFC title game. “Extremely intelligent, thoughtful. He’s steady calling it in. He does a great job game-planning. …
“He’s very detailed in every aspect of the game. Very involved with footwork and timing and the precision of things. He does a good job with it.”
Lazor won’t call plays in Chicago. With DeFilippo and Ragone on board, he won’t be the Trubisky Whisperer, either.
But Tannehill spoke to a trait that should help him in the Bears’ crowded offensive meeting room: adaptability.
“I think he does a good job fitting the scheme to the players that he has,” Tannehill said. “That’s what you want in an offensive coordinator, is a guy who can utilize what he’s working with and make the best out of it. I wish him the best there, obviously — unless we’re playing him.”