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Bucs coordinator Todd Bowles shows Bears what might have been

Two years ago, the Bears needed a coordinator to inherit the best defense in football. They thought they had the perfect candidate, too: former Jets coach Todd Bowles, who’d known Matt Nagy since Nagy was a baby.

Bears coach Matt Nagy greets Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a lifelong friend, before a game in October.
Bears coach Matt Nagy greets Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a lifelong friend, before a game in October.
Kamil Krzaczynski/AP

Two years ago, the Bears needed a coordinator to inherit the best defense in football.

They thought they had the perfect candidate, too: ex-Jets coach Todd Bowles, who had known coach Matt Nagy since Nagy was a baby. Bowles was familiar with chairman George McCaskey and GM Ryan Pace, too, having interviewed for the Bears’ head-coaching vacancy that went to John Fox.

One problem: Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, Bowles’ mentor since he played for him at Temple, was assembling a staff to take to Tampa Bay and wanted Bowles to go with him.

Bowles went with Arians. Two years later, he’s in the Super Bowl.

The Bears, by contrast, are already on to another defensive coordinator. Sean Desai took over last month when Chuck Pagano retired after two underwhelming seasons.

“Me and Matt are good friends,” Bowles said Monday. “We talk a lot anyway. We had a conversation [about the job]. Obviously, it entailed the whole family and everything else. We remain good friends to this day. . . . Hopefully, one day we can work together again.”

Arians said he sold Bowles on everything from the Bucs’ front office to Tampa’s climate to his plans for the team.

“He had a bunch of opportunities,” Arians said. “And I think our relationship from the past had something to do with it.”

Bowles’ defense has emerged as one of the most aggressive in the NFL. The Buccaneers’ 25 takeaways tied for fourth-most in the league. Only four teams had more sacks than their 48 during the regular season, and none has more than their seven in the postseason.

“I think that’s what sets him apart: He’s willing to put guys in positions to make plays,” defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh said. “[Rather than], ‘Really, this is my defense. This is the way you need to run it. Either you fit into it or don’t fit into it.’ ’’

Nagy’s dad, Bill, was Bowles’ defensive line coach at Elizabeth (N.J.) High School. Matt Nagy was 3 when Bowles graduated and left for Temple, where Arians served as coach from 1983 to 1988.

Bowles — who coached alongside Matt Nagy on the 2012 Eagles — smiled when laying out the differences between the Nagy men.

“Matt’s dad was a screamer and a yeller — almost like [late wrestler] Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage,” Bowles said. “He never came to work not wired up. Matt’s completely the opposite.”

Two Chiefs to COVID-19 list

The Chiefs put center Daniel Kilgore and wide receiver Demar-cus Robinson on the reserve/-COVID-19 list because of close contact with an infected person.

League rules mandate players quarantine for five days, dating to their last interaction with whoever had the coronavirus. They could still play Sunday, provided they don’t test positive in the interim.

“The NFL has done a great job with it, of presenting different things for the players to stay as safe as possible,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ve been hammering this point home forever.

‘‘The problem is, you’re fighting the invisible man. It gets you when you least expect it.”