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Bears’ defensive coordinator search takes shape

Matt Nagy’s short list is becoming clearer as he looks to fill the team’s most important assistant position.

George Edwards was a candidate for the Bears’ head-coaching position in 2018 and is back on the radar as a potential defensive coordinator for 2021.
AP Photos

A week after defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano retired, the Bears’ short list of candidates to replace him is taking shape.

The team has obvious in-house options in safeties coach Sean Desai (on staff since 2013) and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers (since ’15), and has begun interviewing outsiders as well.

The most notable name is former Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, who interviewed for the head-coaching job in 2018 and lost out to Matt Nagy. Edwards was the Vikings’ defensive coordinator from 2014 through ’19 and spent last season as a Cowboys senior assistant. He also was defensive coordinator for the Bills (2010-11) and Washington (’03).

The Bears also interviewed former Giants and Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher on Monday, NFL Network reported.

Bettcher was out of the league last season after the Giants cleaned house, but Nagy has a history of picking up castoffs. Former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was hired as a free agent, as was current offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, offensive line coach Juan Castillo and tight ends coach Clancy Barone.

The Bears requested permission to interview Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon as well, The Athletic reported. Gannon became a position coach for the first time in 2018.

It’s a crucial hire for Nagy, who will be on his third defensive coordinator in four seasons. The defense has fallen from great to good the last two seasons since Vic Fangio left for the Broncos’ head-coaching job, and that position has virtual autonomy with Nagy focused on the offense.