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Desai praised for his preparation, intelligence


In recent Zoom calls with the media, first-year Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai was described by the position coaches who work under him as organized, prepared, intelligent and energetic.

Bill McGovern, who's in his first season as Bears inside linebackers coach, was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Boston College in 2012 when Desai served as the school's running backs coach and special teams coordinator.

"You could tell he was just an outstanding coach," McGovern said. "He was prepared in everything that he did. He had a thirst for knowledge. He wanted to understand everything. He wanted to get it. He wanted to find a better way of doing it. That was the thing that jumped out."

McGovern recalls that Desai was inquisitive, eager to learn and always seeking to improve as a coach.

"He was just the most prepared guy," McGovern said. "Any drills that we did, he'd want to come down and say, 'Hey, tell me about the drill I saw you doing here. What do you think is the benefit to what you were doing? I think I can incorporate it here into one of my kicking drills.'

"He just kind of questioned everything but also challenged everything and tried to make it better and tried to get it as good as it could be."

Desai was promoted from safeties coach to defensive coordinator Jan. 22. He replaced Chuck Pagano, who announced his retirement Jan. 13 after 36 years in coaching, including the last two with the Bears.

Desai was originally hired by the Bears in 2013 and is the only remaining holdover from former coach Marc Trestman's staff. Desai spent six seasons as a defensive quality control assistant from 2013-18 before being promoted to safeties coach in 2019. From 2016-19, Desai worked under veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Bill Shuey, who's entering his fourth season with the Bears and first as outside linebackers coach, has complete faith in Desai.

"I've got a lot of confidence in Sean," said Shuey, who was promoted this year after working as a defensive quality control coach in 2018 and pass rush analyst/linebackers coach in 2019-20. "My first year here, Sean and I actually shared an office. So I got to learn early on how detailed of a guy and how efficient of a guy Sean is.

"He's been coaching a long time. He's had various roles. He paid his dues in that quality control role for a while. I also have done that in the past, so I can appreciate the grind that he went through to get to the opportunities that he's in.

"He's a smart guy, and like most of us, I think he would say this, it comes down to being around and being exposed to other great coaches and other great players and learning from them. Sean's background with Vic, with Chuck, and then prior to that, he's had some opportunities to be around some really great coaches. So I've got a lot of confidence in Sean and look forward to him having the opportunity to put his stamp on things."

“You could tell he was just an outstanding coach. He was prepared in everything that he did. He had a thirst for knowledge.” Bears assistant Bill McGovern on DC Sean Desai

Shuey is grateful to Desai for helping him assimilate when Shuey joined a defensive staff in 2018 that had nearly been retained en masse by Matt Nagy after he replaced John Fox as Bears coach.

"Sean was very helpful because those guys were already into their offseason evaluations and studies and those things," Shuey said. "Sharing an office with Sean, it was good for me because he was my sounding board to ask a question and just looking over the top of the cubicle, basically. The way he could articulate certain things in the scheme, you could tell he had taken a lot of mental reps and put the time in. He was able to precisely explain a technique that maybe I wasn't familiar with."

Shuey knew almost immediately that Desai possessed what it took to one day become an NFL defensive coordinator.

"I always thought that the way his mind was organized and his ability to communicate those things, that gave him a shot," Shuey said. "I knew he aspired to have that opportunity and he was a sponge. Vic trusted Sean. Sean was a sponge, and he grew because of that."

Desai began his coaching career at Temple, his alma mater, in 2006, serving as a defensive assistant and special teams coach for five seasons. As special teams coordinator in 2010 at the age of 27, he was one of the youngest coordinators in college football. Desai was assistant director of football operations at the University of Miami (Fla.) in 2011 before spending the 2012 season as running backs coach and special teams coordinator at Boston College.

Desai earned his doctorate in educational administration, with an emphasis in higher education, at Temple in May 2008, serving as an adjunct professor at the school in 2009 and 2010, teaching in the master's and doctoral programs in education administration.

"He's energetic, he knows what he wants, he has a plan," said Bears first-year defensive line coach Chris Rumph Sr. "The first thing you notice is his organization, his ability to communicate and also his willingness to listen to different ideas and to really think things through.

"If someone has a different plan or a good idea, everybody is going to [discuss] it and then we'll come to a decision if we think it's player-friendly and can help us be successful. So I think just the organization, his intelligence and the way he communicates is unbelievable."