MOBILE, Ala. – Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who's serving as head coach of the American squad at the Senior Bowl, is excellent at reading a room.
“I’m not going to be someone who’s going to tackle somebody. But I like to bring juice, and hopefully these guys were feeling it …” Luke Getsy
In keeping with that mindset, Getsy concluded his first practice Tuesday afternoon in Mobile with a competitive one-on-one battle between members of the offense and defense. When the defense won, offensive players had to do 15 pushups.
"I'll always be myself," Getsy said. "I'm not going to be someone who's going to tackle somebody. But I like to bring juice, and hopefully these guys were feeling it both in the meeting room and then out here on the practice field."
Getsy has never been a head coach at any level. But he's getting the opportunity this week thanks to a new NFL initiative designed to promote professional development. For the first time, the league has implemented a "coach up" format where coordinators and assistant coaches are placed into elevated or different roles from the ones they hold with their clubs.
Head coaches and general managers from all non-playoff teams had the chance to nominate assistant coaches, and those candidates were then selected by a group comprised of league office executives, representatives from the General Managers Advisory Committee and Senior Bowl leadership.
"It's a tremendous opportunity," Getsy said. "The exposure to the player is the main reason it's awesome. But to be able to meet other coaches and kind of learn from them, and on top of that maybe give them something, that part of it's the best.
"Any type of exposure like this is a great opportunity. Is it exactly the same [as being an NFL head coach]? No, but the structure, planning it all, putting it all together, all that stuff is really valuable for me."
Getsy, 38, is entering his ninth season as an NFL assistant. Before being hired as Bears offensive coordinator in 2022, he spent seven years with the Packers as offensive quality control coach (2014-15), receivers coach (2016-17) and quarterbacks coach (2019-21), doubling as passing game coordinator in 2020-21.
During that span, Getsy left Green Bay for one season, serving as offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Mississippi State in 2018. In that role, he recruited a handful of players he's coaching this week at the Senior Bowl: Oklahoma running back Eric Gray, Auburn defensive lineman Derick Hall, Mississippi receiver Jonathan Mingo, Tennessee defensive lineman Byron Young and Mississippi State defensive lineman Cameron Young.
Serving as Senior Bowl head coach won't only benefit Getsy. It'll also give the Bears a unique perspective entering the draft. Getsy will share the information he gleans from the prospects he's coaching with general manager Ryan Poles and the team's personnel department.
"That's the most important reason why I'm here," Getsy said. "I keep the main goal the main thing, and that's the final way to get our team to be a better football team. And this gives you a great opportunity to dive into the type of men they are. We're trying to build this organization with guys who love football, and so we get to find that out when you get to be so hands-on."
The Bears actually have insiders on both Senior Bowl teams; linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi and assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts are assisting Getsy, while assistant special teams coordinator Carlos Polk is serving as special teams coordinator for the National squad.
As head coach, Getsy is interacting with every player on his team's roster.
"I'm in every meeting room," he said. "I'm going to every position, so I'm getting to see how guys interact, see how they learn. Then I get to come out here and I get to observe every position, too. I'm trying to take advantage of that and not just keep it in one area. I'm trying to get as much information on as many of these guys as possible."
In spending time with players at all positions, Getsy is emulating what he's seen from Bears coach Matt Eberflus.
"Even if you're not participating in it, being present for your guys is the most important thing," Getsy said. "I truly value the relationship with the player more than I do everything else. That's a big reason why I want to do that."
Though there are only three practices prior to Saturday's Senior Bowl, Getsy is confident that he'll be able to gather vital information about the prospects.
"That's like the natural: Is this guy just a baller or not?" Getsy said. "You get to see the subtle movements. You get to see how they handle change, how fast they can learn something and then go out and perform it that quickly because that's the world we live in. We can't do the same thing every week; you've got to be able to adapt. So this is a really good opportunity."