Why John DeFilippo makes sense as Bears’ next coach

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Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo has emerged as a top head-coaching candidate.

When there’s only one great car left on the sale lot for several prospective buyers, sometimes you begin to talk yourself into the unproven, less expensive model. That could be good or bad.

Most NFL insiders will tell you that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is clearly the best candidate to fill one of the six current coaching vacancies. But only one team can have him, and the Giants seem to be the frontrunner.

Inevitably, one obscure candidate often emerges as a “hot coaching prospect.” This year’s dark-horse favorite on the coaching carousel is Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.


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DeFilippo, 39, has never been a head coach and has called plays only briefly. But “Flip” gets the credit for quarterback Carson Wentz’s amazing second-year turnaround with the Eagles, even more so than offensive coordinator Frank Reich.

In addition, the copycat league sees DeFilippo becoming the next Sean McVay, the 30-year-old coach who turned around the Rams and Jared Goff.

The Bears have wasted no time in requesting an interview with DeFilippo on Saturday in Philadelphia. So, what’s the rush for a coach whose only play-calling duties in the NFL came for the 3-13 Cleveland Browns and Johnny Manziel in 2015?

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said this about DeFilippo: “He’s a great teacher, No. 1. He understands the offense, he knows what we’re trying to get across. He’s a great teacher, not only in the classroom, but the drill work and what he puts the quarterbacks through. It’s all game-specific drill work and he really does a nice job preparing the guys, the quarterbacks, during the week.

“Very exhaustive in the film study and is showing them every look, every blitz and for the entire season. Plus, it’s just the way he prepares these guys and he’s done a great job with them. Great communicator.”

The Bears definitely envision DeFilippo as the mentor to Mitch Trubisky that John Fox was ill-equipped to be.

DeFilippo has never stayed at any one job for more than three years, enabling him to work under various football minds such as Tom Coughlin, Bob Shoop, Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, Rex Ryan, Lane Kiffin, Dennis Allen, Tony Sparano and Mike Pettine.

And, yes, while he was part of the Johnny Football disaster in Cleveland, the rest of DeFilippo’s resume should be in yellow highlighter: Recruited and molded David Fales into a prolific quarterback at San Jose State; Guided Derek Carr and Carson Palmer to superb seasons in Oakland; Helped assist Mark Sanchez with the Jets in 2009 when they lost in AFC Championship; Mentored Wentz during breakout season.

DeFilippo is considered to be a tireless worker and stickler for details. Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic writes:

Every Friday, DeFilippo hands his quarterbacks a test that also serves as a tip sheet. It’s 20 to 30 pages and about 55 questions with photos and text containing information about the upcoming opponent. If the defense is showing a certain look pre-snap, how should they adjust the protection? If Wentz reads zone coverage on a specific passing concept, where should he go with the ball? If a cornerback is playing a specific leverage, how is the receiver supposed to adjust his route?

The better move for the Bears might be to bring DeFilippo in as OC and hire a more experienced, defensive candidate for the head-coaching duties, but with so few good prospects out there, it looks like the Youngstown, Ohio, native will be an NFL head coach by the time he turns 40 in April. (By the way, Youngstown is about 80 miles from Mentor, Ohio, where Trubisky grew up.)

If you’re looking for one more reason Bears general manager Ryan Pace might pull the trigger on DeFilippo: DeFilippo has drawn comparisons to Sean Payton, the Saints’ Super Bowl-winning coach who also had little experience as an OC and worked closely with Pace in New Orleans.

Follow me on Twitter @DanCahill_CST

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