Sean Desai

Seahawks Hire Sean Desai As Associate Head Coach

The Seahawks have landed one of the biggest coaching names as they rebuild their defensive staff. Sean Desai has been hired under the title of associate head coach – defense (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).

Seattle has been looking for a new coach to lead the defense since they parted ways with defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. nearly a month ago. Desai was among the candidates for the role, along with DC jobs on the Giants, Raiders and Vikings, making him one of the most sought-after defensive minds in this hiring cycle. Originally, Ed Donatell was set to take on an assistant role in Seattle, but he pivoted to Minnesota yesterday.

At the age of 38, Rapoport notes, Desai is one of the youngest coaches in the league to hold such a high-ranking title. The hire proves the high regard he was held in due to his work with the Bears. Since coming to Chicago in 2013, he worked his way up the coaching ladder, getting promoted to DC one year ago. That made him the first coordinator of Indian descent in NFL history.

The Bears ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed per game (316.7), in spite of injuries to an number of key pieces on the unit. That success could certainly lead to him playing a role in helping the Seahawks rebound from their disappointing performances on that side of the ball in recent years.

NFC Staff Notes: Panthers, Bears, Cowboys

After two years back in college, Paul Pasqualoni is returning to the NFL. The Panthers hired the septuagenarian assistant as their defensive line coach Tuesday. Like Matt Rhule, Pasqualoni has spent most of his coaching career at the college level, being best known for his lengthy tenure as Syracuse’s head coach. Pasqualoni and Rhule were each head coaches, the former at UConn and the latter at Temple, in the American Athletic Conference’s debut season (2013). Pasqualoni, 72, resurfaced in the NFL in 2018, when he became Matt Patricia‘s defensive coordinator in Detroit. After Patricia fired him, Pasqualoni spent the past two years as a special assistant at Florida.

Here is the latest from the NFC coaching carousel:

  • The Bears have made a few more hires, staffing their front lines. They added Travis Smith to coach their defensive line. This will mark a notable change for Smith, who was with the Raiders for the past 10 years, coaching under Dennis Allen, Tony Sparano, Jack Del Rio, Jon Gruden and Rich Bisaccia. Chicago also added Jim Dray as its tight ends coach. A veteran tight end who retired not that long ago, Dray is moving up from the quality control level. This will be the 35-year-old assistant’s first position coaching gig, having been a QC coach in Cleveland over the past two years. Austin King is also set to become the Bears’ assistant O-line coach. King worked with Smith this past season, being the Raiders’ tight ends coach. He was Dayton’s OC from 2017-19.
  • Cowboys wide receivers coach Adam Henry is interviewing with the Giants. He will do so after turning down a new Cowboys contract, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Robert Prince is set to replace him, per ESPN’s Todd Archer and Field Yates (on Twitter). Prince and Cowboys OC Kellen Moore have an interesting history. Prince, 56, was a Boise State staffer during Moore’s final season (2011). He later joined the Lions’ staff during Moore’s QB tenure there. Prince spent seven seasons in Detroit as the team’s wideouts coach.
  • Curtis Modkins is likely to become the Vikings‘ next run-game coordinator and backfield coach, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos’ running backs coach over the past four seasons, Modkins played a key role in Phillip Lindsay‘s rapid rise from UDFA to Pro Bowler and then aided Javonte Williams during his quality rookie season. Modkins, 51, is a two-time NFL OC, having served in that role with the Bills in the early 2010s and with the 49ers in 2016.
  • The Seahawks are in talks to add Karl Scott as their defensive passing-game coordinator, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. Alabama’s DBs coach from 2018-20, Scott made his NFL coaching debut this past season as Vikings secondary coach. The Seahawks adding Scott would not be as a Sean Desai backup plan, per Condotta. Both could join the revamped staff. Seattle is targeting the 2021 Chicago DC for an assistant role, in the event Minnesota does not hire him as its next DC.

Vikings Interview Sean Desai For DC Job

Despite having just one year of defensive coordinator experience, Sean Desai has emerged as a popular candidate this year. As staffs continue to be assembled, new head coaches have been eager to speak with the 2021 Bears DC.

Desai has now gone through three such interviews; the Vikings represent the third. Desai interviewed for the vacant Vikings’ DC job over the weekend, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). This follows Desai meetings with the Raiders and Giants.

Both the Raiders and Giants made their hires, in multiyear DCs Patrick Graham and Don Martindale. The Vikings have yet to decide on their new DC. This position will take on greater importance given the impending Kevin O’Connell HC hire. Minnesota’s next DC will be the team’s unquestioned defensive play-caller.

Although the Bears slogged through a disappointing season — their first sub-.500 campaign since 2017 — they ranked sixth in total defense. Chicago had bumped up Desai last year to replace the retired Chuck Pagano, and the new play-caller helped a largely Khalil Mack-less unit to a respectable season — one that included Robert Quinn breaking Richard Dent‘s 37-year-old team sack record.

The Vikings have also interviewed Ravens defensive line coach Anthony Weaver and requested a meeting with Lions secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant. Former Browns HC and Packers DC Mike Pettine, however, is the rumored favorite.

Should the Vikings head in another direction, Desai appears to have a fallback plan. The Seahawks are interested in adding him to their staff in a non-DC role. Seattle promoted Clint Hurtt to DC and added Ed Donatell as well. Desai would make three ex-Vic Fangio disciples (and two 2021 DCs) on one staff.

Giants To Interview Don Martindale, Sean Desai For DC Job

With Patrick Graham heading to Las Vegas, Brian Daboll and the Giants are hunting for a new defensive coordinator. Well, it sounds like some contenders are starting to emerge. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Giants will interview Don “Wink” Martindale and Sean Desai for their defensive coordinator vacancy. The interviews will both take place today.

Martindale has been a coordinator for two teams, also serving as the Broncos’ DC during a poor 2010 season. He revamped his reputation with the Ravens, with Baltimore ranking as a top-10 defense from 2018-20. The veteran coach entered the season with lame-duck status in Baltimore, and the two sides ultimately decided to part ways. The Ravens regressed defensively this season, dropping to 25th in yards allowed, but the team dealt with injuries throughout. Before the Giants settled on Graham, “Wink” was a strong candidate for the gig, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (on Twitter).

Desai’s NFL coaching career dates back to 2013. At the age of 38, he already has an impressive amount of experience, with three different roles in the college ranks (including special teams coordinator at Boston College) and, most recently, the DC role he held with the Bears in 2021. With Matt Eberflus electing to bring a familiar face in Alan Williams with him from Indianapolis, though, Desai is in search of a new home.

One of the top young defensive minds in the coaching ranks, Desai’s unit ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed this season, despite injuries to the likes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. That success earned him interest from the Seahawks and Raiders.

Seahawks Make Defensive Staff Changes

The Seahawks’ Ken Norton Jr. replacement effort appears to be a multi-pronged approach. Not only will Clint Hurtt move up to Seattle’s defensive coordinator post, but the team is also expected to bring in Ed Donatell.

Hurtt will rise from defensive line coach to DC, Bob Condotta and Adam Jude of the Seattle Times report. Donatell, who interviewed for the DC gig, is expected to join Seattle’s staff in a different role, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. A senior defensive assistant title appears likely for Donatell, a veteran coordinator who has been an NFL assistant since 1990.

Sean Desai, whom the Bears promoted to DC in Matt Nagy‘s final season, is also a Seahawks target, according to the Seattle Times. Desai, Donatell and Hurtt have worked for Vic Fangio in the past, making for an interesting arrangement in Seattle. The Seahawks endured brutal starts to the past two seasons on defense, being on pace for record-setting yardage totals, though each of Norton’s final two units stabilized to some degree. This will double as the team’s top staff shakeup this offseason, with Pete Carroll and OC Shane Waldron sticking around.

As should be expected, Carroll is interested in incorporating Fangio’s system. Donatell spent the past three seasons running it in Denver, operating as Broncos DC. Despite Bradley Chubb‘s injury trouble and Von Miller‘s midseason departure, the Broncos finished in the top 10 in total defense and points allowed this season. Donatell and Carroll have worked together with the Jets in the early 1990s and were each part of the University of Pacific’s staff back in 1983.

Hurtt, 43, has been with the Seahawks since 2017. He worked under Fangio in Chicago from 2015-16. This will be his first chance at a coordinator role at any level. Desai received that opportunity last year. Despite the Bears losing Khalil Mack midway through the season, Desai’s unit ranked sixth in total defense. Robert Quinn broke Richard Dent‘s 37-year-old team sack record, finishing with 18.5. Desai’s Seattle arrival will be contingent on him not landing the Las Vegas DC job. The Raiders interviewed Desai on Thursday.

Raiders Interview Sean Desai For DC Job

The Raiders are meeting with a highly regarded candidate for the first defensive hire of the Josh McDaniels era. Las Vegas is set to interview former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai today, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).

[Related: Bears To Hire Alan Williams As DC]

Desai’s NFL coaching career dates back to 2013, and had only been spent in Chicago until now. At the age of 38, he already has an impressive amount of experience, between three different roles in the college ranks (including special teams coordinator at Boston College) and, most recently, the DC role he held with the Bears in 2021. With Matt Eberflus electing to bring a familiar face in Alan Williams with him from Indianapolis, though, Desai is in search of a new home.

One of the top young defensive minds in the coaching ranks, Desai’s unit ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed this season, despite injuries to the likes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. That success earned him interest from the Seahawks earlier this month, as they requested an interview for their DC vacancy.

While he hasn’t officially taken another position yet, current Raiders DC Gus Bradley certainly seems to be on the way out. Between this Desai interview, and the meeting Bradley has already had with the Colts for their DC opening, there will apparently be a new voice for a Vegas defensive unit that ranked 26th in the league in points allowed in 2021.

 

Seahawks Request To Interview Bears DC Sean Desai

The Seahawks have requested an interview with Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai, according to Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic (Twitter link). If the request is granted, Desai will have a chance to take over for Ken Norton, who will be let go this week.

[RELATED: Seahawks To Part Ways With DC Ken Norton]

Desai, 38, has been with Chicago since 2013. The Bears promoted Desai to DC last February, handing him the keys to a talented, yet underperforming, unit.

I’m not a big car guy, so my analogies may not be great, but this is like a tune up,” Desai said at the time. “We’re going to refine some things and we’re going to make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis and they’re going to buy into the system and the whys and the hows of why we’re doing certain things. But we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got really good players here.”

Unfortunately, Desai got something of a lemon. Injuries to standouts like Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks left the Bears with a severely weakened pass rush, though Desai is credited with keeping things afloat throughout the year.

In addition to Desai, the Seahawks are also considering Ed Donatell, another product of the Vic Fangio coaching tree.

NFL COVID List Updates

We are trying our best here at Pro Football Rumors to keep up with all of the updates throughout the league concerning players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. A lot of teams had high hopes during today’s testing as they were trying to get players activated in time for Sunday’s slate of games.

Here are updates as of 8:30 PM ET, Sat 12/18:

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DT Eddie Goldman
  • OC Bill Lazor, DC Sean Desai, STC Chris Tabor in COVID-19 protocols

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DB P.J. Locke

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Four Coaches in COVID-19 protocols

New York Giants

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Bears Notes: Desai, Robinson, Massie, Skrine

Earlier this week, Sean Desai met with the media for the first time since being promoted to the role of defensive coordinator. While the 37-year-old will take over a defense that has ranked as a top-10 DVOA unit in each of the past three seasons, they’ve also seen some regression since peaking in 2018. However, Desai doesn’t believe the defensive needs a significant overhaul.

“I’m not a big car guy, so my analogies may not be great, but this is like a tune up,” Desai said (via the team’s website). “We’re going to refine some things and we’re going to make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis and they’re going to buy into the system and the whys and the hows of why we’re doing certain things. But we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got really good players here.”

“There was some regression, and we’re going to overcome that,” Desai added. “But we’re going to do it in a positive way and we’re going to do it where the players are going to be able to shine through that defense. So I think we’ll build some depth and we’ll continue with our tough, physical mindset of play and do that over a 16- to 20-week season.”

Some more notes out of Chicago…

  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes that the Bears are “prepared” to tag wideout Allen Robinson with the hope of eventually signing him to a long-term deal. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that it will be difficult to fit a franchised Robinson into a reduced 2021 cap, but the writer also admits that replacing Robinson would be a more daunting task.
  • Speaking of the cap, Biggs provided some cost-cutting options for the Bears. The team could move on from right tackle Bobby Massie, although that would open a spot on the offensive line. Cornerback Buster Skrine could also lose his roster spot, especially since he has a $500K roster bonus due in March. Finally, Biggs also whether the front office will be receptive to paying tight end Jimmy Graham $7MM this season.
  • As for restructured contracts, Biggs points to pass rusher Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson, and he notes that the team could also extend cornerback Kyle Fuller. Alternatively, the team could look to retain free agents like Cairo Santos and Cordarrelle Patterson on low-money pacts.
  • Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic passed along a few Bears players who have increased their 2021 salaries via proven performance escalators (Twitter links): defensive end Bilal Nichols (from $920K to $2.183MM) and guard James Daniels ($1.437MM to $2.183MM),. Their new salaries are contingent on the final 2021 cap number.

Bears To Promote Sean Desai To DC

The Bears interviewed a few outside candidates for their defensive coordinator job but will make a promotion instead. They are elevating safeties coach Sean Desai into the DC role, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Desai, 37, has been with Chicago since 2013. He worked at the quality control level for several seasons but coached Bears safeties over the past two. It is believed Desai will become the first person of Indian descent to become an NFL coordinator, Rapoport adds.

Desai joined D-line coach Jay Rodgers as internal candidates to succeed Chuck Pagano. He will take over a defense that has ranked as a top-10 DVOA unit in each of the past three seasons. The Bears interviewed George Edwards, James Bettcher, Colts DBs coach Jonathan Gannon and Mike Singletary for the job. A Hall of Fame Bears linebacker, Singletary re-emerged on the interview circuit after a lengthy absence. But Chicago is going with Desai, who holds a doctorate degree from Temple.

While Desai does not have much experience as a position coach in the NFL, he did serve as a special teams coordinator at Boston College prior to turning 30. He worked in that capacity with the ACC school in 2012, doing so after spending five years at his alma mater as a special teams assistant.