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Bears coaches gaining valuable experience at Senior Bowl

Bears assistant coaches Dave Borgonzi, Tim Zetts and Carlos Polk
Bears assistant coaches Dave Borgonzi, Tim Zetts and Carlos Polk

MOBILE, Ala. – Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy isn't the only assistant on Matt Eberflus' staff who's benefitting from a special opportunity at the Senior Bowl.

While Getsy is head coach of the American team in Mobile, Bears linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi and assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts are assisting Getsy, and assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk is serving as the National squad's special teams coordinator.

The Bears coaches were afforded the opportunity thanks to a new NFL initiative designed to promote professional development. For the first time, the league implemented a "coach up" format where coordinators and assistant coaches were placed into elevated or different roles from the ones they hold with their clubs.

While we've already chronicled Getsy’s experience at the Senior Bowl, here's a closer look at what the opportunity means to Borgonzi, Zetts and Polk:

Borgonzi is coaching inside linebackers on the American squad under Getsy.

"It's unbelievable," Borgonzi said. "It's one thing to watch practice; it's another thing to coach it because you get to interact with the players in meetings, on the practice field, [and] make corrections with them. It's just a great way to get to know the players as we get ready for the draft and really just have an inside look at not just the linebackers but the whole group."

Borgonzi possesses 12 years of NFL coaching experience. He has worked with Eberflus in eight of those seasons: as a Cowboys assistant when Eberflus was linebackers coach (2011-13); as Colts linebackers coach when Eberflus was defensive coordinator (2018-21) and last year with the Bears.

Borgonzi also spent four seasons as a defensive quality control coach with the Buccaneers under coaches Lovie Smith (2014-15) and Dirk Koetter (2016-17).

Borgonzi's first NFL job was as an unpaid media relations summer intern with Washington. In that role, he was tasked with distributing newspaper clips to coaches, setting up interviews with players and transcribing press conferences. He later landed a similar internship with the Patriots.

As a player, Borgonzi was a three-year starting inside linebacker at Amherst College, a Division III school in Massachusetts.

Asked what appeals to him most about coaching, Borgonzi gave a simple answer.

"Sunday," he said. "There's nothing like Sunday in the NFL. There's nothing like gameday. It never gets old. Every Sunday before the game, I still get chills. I love football. I loved playing it. I love watching it and studying it. When I got out of college, they always tell you to follow your dreams, and this is what I wanted to do."

Zetts is assisting Getsy in a multitude of areas at the Senior Bowl. The two have worked together regularly, first as players and later as coaches.

When Getsy was the starting quarterback at Akron in 2005-06, Zetts was his backup. The two have since coached together at Akron (2008), Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2011), Mississippi State (2018) and then in the NFL with the Packers (2021) and Bears (2022-present).

Zetts also worked as an offensive assistant at California University of Pennsylvania (2010), Fordham (2012-14), John Carroll (2015-16), Davidson (2017) and Austin Peay (2019-20), where he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

At the Senior Bowl, Zetts has rotated around to different position groups, giving him insight into the entire roster as the Bears prepare for the draft.

"It's awesome," Zetts said. "It's really cool. Being able to see these guys in person up close, you see them more than just on the field. You're being able to see them off the field in a meeting room, how they really are away from the football field, which is a big part of the whole process."

Zetts has enjoyed providing his input about the prospects to Bears general manager Ryan Poles, assistant GM Ian Cunningham and Eberflus.

As a coach, Zetts feels that this week's experience at the Senior Bowl will help him "a ton."

"It's allowed me to be exposed to a lot of different things at a lot of different levels," he said. "Professionally, I think it's pretty much one of the coolest opportunities I've ever been a part of."

Polk described the chance to serve as the National team's special teams coordinator as "a tremendous opportunity."

He has especially enjoyed spending the week coordinating meetings and explaining that for some college all-stars, their ticket into the NFL could be via special teams.

"A lot of these guys didn't play a lot of special teams," Polk said. "They were big fish in a small pond and I'm teaching them that you've got to add value when you go the next level."

Polk is entering his second season as Bears assistant special teams coach. He served in the same capacity with the Chargers (2010-12), Buccaneers (2014-18), Cowboys (2019) and Jaguars (2021), while also working as a coaching intern in his first stint with Dallas in 2013 when Eberflus was the team's linebackers coach.

As a player, Polk was an NFL linebacker with the Chargers (2001-07) and Cowboys (2008). He appeared in 74 games with six starts over seven seasons, recording 121 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks. Prior to that, he was a two-time All-Big 12 selection at Nebraska. He helped the Cornhuskers win the national championship in 1997, was named an All-American in 2000 and was enshrined in the school's Hall of Fame in 2010.

Polk grew up in Rockford, Ill., and played at Guilford High School, where he was a three-time all-conference linebacker and a USA Today All-American selection.

Becoming a coach was a natural transition for Polk, the oldest of seven children whose mother was a teacher. He especially enjoys teaching players the nuances of the game.

"It [could be] something that they had no clue about," Polk said. "Then the next thing you know they're taking that next step. It makes you smile when you see guys are able to apply what you taught them."