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3 Bears coordinators talk COVID, game prep


Bears coordinators Bill Lazor (offense), Sean Desai (defense) and Chris Tabor (special teams) remain in COVID protocol, quarantining away from Halas Hall.

All three spoke to the media Friday via Zoom about their health, working remotely and preparing for Monday night's game against the Vikings. Here's what we learned:

Bill Lazor

His situation: Lazor told reporters that he's felt better and also felt worse, saying: "I feel like I have a bad head cold and a bad cough. I'm trying to think what day I tested positive. I don't know. I've been a lot sicker, so hopefully this passes, and I know the NFL is coming out with new rules about return. So, hopefully things clear up here fast."

Working remotely: The NFL has enacted expanded COVID protocols this week, requiring all teams to conduct their meetings entirely on a virtual basis, just like last season.

"That kind of keeps me, unfortunately, right in line with how everyone is," Lazor said. "We're all way more plugged in and involved in all the game-planning meetings and involved in the player meetings than we would have been two years ago."

The biggest difference for Lazor being in quarantine is that he can't attend practice; he watches the sessions on tape after they're completed.

Lazor concedes that there is frustration being away from Halas Hall and his assistants.

"Some of the work is a lot easier to do when you're in the building together," he said. "So, it's a little bit frustrating in the organization of practice and getting cards ready and the scout team ready, and if an adjustment gets made, to test it out so that everyone gets it on the staff. You can go down the hallway and do it a lot easier than you can when you're not in the building. I'd say it's frustrating, but there's not much I can do about it."

Preparing for the Vikings: The Bears roster has been decimated this week, with 13 players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list since Monday. But Lazor has supreme confidence that the players who are able to suit up Monday night will give 100 percent effort.

"If it wasn't COVID, I'd be taking a lot of cold medicine and sucking it up and going to work," Lazor said. "We've all done that in the past. But obviously with COVID, we're not allowed to do that. I think you'll find the players will do the same thing. I think they're committed to playing and committed to winning. If they're not being held out, I think they're going to show up to work and do what they have to do to get ready to play the game. We go through these things, and it seems like it's a historically-high time across the country right now. But these guys are pros, and I think they are going to show up to play if they're allowed."

Sean Desai

His situation: Desai told reporters he tested positive Monday but feels fine, saying: "I haven't had many symptoms, so that's been good."

Desai hopes to be cleared in time to coach against the Vikings.

"I've just been following the protocols that the NFL and our organization have been giving us," he said. "So, I've been testing every day. There are some rules which I'm not totally in all the details of it, but I get all the results and pretty much there are numbers, benchmarks, negative tests, all that stuff. There's a combination; a lot of things that can allow me to test back in. I'm hopeful that I'm going to be able to test back in by Monday."

Working remotely: Asked how he was trying to keep from going stir crazy while quarantining, Desai said: "Obviously, you're just stuck in the room and trying to isolate yourself. But I try to get outside and take a little break on my own, walk around a little bit for a few minutes. It's cold, though, so that doesn't help much."

Preparing for the Vikings: Forced to hold meetings via Zoom like last season, Desai and his staff are leaning on what they learned in 2020.

"We've kind of been through this rodeo a little bit over the last year, and so we're just operating kind of as normal that way," Desai said. "We've got a pretty good operation in terms of Zoom and how to manage Zoom, and we've been game-planning that way, been meeting with the staff on our normal game-plan schedules and we've been meeting with the units similarly. So, we're kind of operating as normal."

Despite quarantining, Desai felt some normalcy this week. "Quite frankly, especially the front end of the week—Mondays and Tuesdays—it's the same," he said. "I'm just stuck in my office, game-planning and watching tape all day anyway, so the majority of the day is the same. It's just the practice part that you miss being out on the field."

Chris Tabor

His situation: Tabor told reporters he tested positive Monday, saying: "I thought I just had a little chest cold. Today, I feel fantastic. I feel great."

Tabor hopes to be cleared to coach against the Vikings, saying: "I know things are changing on a daily basis, so we'll see. And I can't give you a definitive answer. Trust me, I wish I could. But I'm hopeful."

Preparing for the Vikings: If Tabor is unable to coach Monday night, he has complete confidence in assistant special teams coach Brian Ginn stepping into the role.

"I would expect it to go flawless," Tabor said. "Brian and I, our headset is on the same channel. When I'm calling the game on Sunday, we talk about the call, what we want to do. I might get, 'Hey Tabes, I like that. No, Tabes, I don't like that,' and sort it through. It should go really smooth. The guys respond, too. The one thing that I like we do is, I let him coach. It's just the two of us. We're the special teams coaches and we're a team. So the guys know him. They've got a lot of confidence in him. It would be just fine."

There's usually quite a bit of turnover on special teams every season, but it's skyrocketed this year and especially this week due to COVID issues. It's been a tremendous challenge for Tabor, but it's one he embraces.

"It's been a lot of fun, as crazy as that sounds," he said. "This is a great opportunity for guys that haven't got playing experience to get some tape out there and put it on there, because tape is their resumé. It has been challenging, but like I say, it's been fun and we're working through it."