It looks like Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor could be the first of Matt Nagy’s coaching staff to depart.
The Bears, of course, fired Nagy along with general manager Ryan Pace on January 10 and immediately began looking for a new team leader. While new regimes often come with their own staff of hand-picked trainers, it’s also not uncommon for a coordinator or two to stick around when a new trainer comes on board.
Tabor has been with the Bears since 2018 when Nagy was hired and he has established himself as one of the best ST coordinators in the industry. However, he may be using his talents elsewhere because according to top NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers – who are going through their own transformations – are interviewing Tabor for the same role.
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While Chicago’s offensive and defensive units have been inconsistent in recent years, Tabor’s special team groups have consistently performed well, with the punt return unit finishing in the top 10 for three of his four seasons with the team.
The Bears ranked 4th this season in punt return average (11.7 yards per return), 12th in kickoff return average (23.1 yards), and they were one of only two teams with a punt return for a season score, courtesy of Pro Bowl WR/KR Jakeem Grant. Tabor and the team’s other assistants were aware that their jobs could be in jeopardy if and when Nagy were fired, but some had hoped he could be retained by the yet-to-be-appointed head coach.
“The outside noise is the outside noise,” Tabor said on Jan. 6, referring to rumors of Nagy’s release. “And when you start this profession, you know what you are registering for.”
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Tabor is a solid coach and if Carolina hires him away from Chicago it would be a huge loss to the Bears. He also acted as caretaker manager for Nagy once that season when the ex-head coach tested positive for COVID-19, making him a valuable leader during his time with the team. He has done an excellent job navigating a squad that has been plagued by positive COVID-19 cases all season. So it’s no surprise other teams are trying to nab him.
With Tabor potentially out, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will certainly follow, but the primary question mark surrounds defensive coordinator Sean Desai, who had a solid first season as DC with an injury-plagued roster.
It’s possible whichever new Chicago head coach chooses to keep Desai on board — he’s only 38, a student of one of the NFL’s top defensemen at Vic Fangio, and led a defense that ranked 4th with 49 sacks finished in the league – but that’s not a given in any way. With more changes to come and Tabor already having one foot out the door, all eyes will now be on Desai. Stay tuned.
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