First-year Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai has been included on The Athletic's second annual NFL 40 under 40 list, a "collection of the rising stars in football, the young league and the team power brokers you should know this season."
Desai, 38, enters his ninth year with the Bears but first as defensive coordinator. He spent six seasons as a defensive quality control assistant from 2013-18 before serving as safeties coach in 2019-20. From 2015-18, Desai worked under veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who left the Bears in 2019 to become Broncos coach.
The list was created by The Athletic's Lindsay Jones.
"Desai, the first NFL coordinator of Indian and South Asian descent, moves into an interesting spot with the Bears: The defense is aging but still has top-tier talent, led by pass rusher Khalil Mack," Jones wrote. "It will be interesting to see if Desai can emulate the success [Chargers coach Brandon] Staley, another Vic Fangio disciple, had in his first year as a coordinator [with the Broncos in 2020] and to learn how much of Fangio's influence is in Desai's defensive game plans and play-calling."
"I sat next to [Fangio], so I was able to reflect on every game, within the game and after the game of why certain things happened, certain situations, why he called that," Desai said earlier this year. "Now, does that mean I'm going to do it the same way? No. Would he want me to do it the same way? No, right? This is going to be Sean Desai's defense."