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Quick Hits: Bears follow league-wide trend


INDIANAPOLIS – In an era of ever-increasing specialization in the NFL, the Bears followed a league-wide trend last month when Dave Ragone was named the first pass game coordinator in franchise history.

"We looked and studied structure around the league and I think that's becoming more and more common to do that," general manager Ryan Pace said this week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Ragone had served as Bears quarterbacks coach each of the past four seasons. He was the only offensive position coach that coach Matt Nagy retained from predecessor John Fox's staff.

Ragone's promotion created an opportunity for Nagy to hire John DeFilippo as quarterbacks coach. DeFilippo boasts 13 years of NFL experience. He won the Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017 after helping backup quarterback Nick Foles seamlessly replace injured starter Carson Wentz late in the season.

Nagy told reporters at the Combine that he and DeFilippo have "always talked about working together."

The moves involving Ragone and DeFilippo were two of several that Nagy made last month in revamping his offensive coaching staff. Determined to revive an offense that regressed in 2019, the Bears also hired Bill Lazor as coordinator, Juan Castillo as offensive line coach and Clancy Barone as tight ends coach. 

"We think the world of Dave Ragone," Pace said, "so being able to give him a little more responsibility in that area [and] just adding talent to our coaching staff with 'Flip' and Lazor and Juan and Clancy Barone, these guys are all high quality coaches and high quality people. We feel like we got better." 

Same blueprint: Although Mitchell Trubisky will be working with several new assistant coaches this year, Pace doesn't anticipate the quarterback experiencing any growing pains. The main voice in Trubisky's ear calling plays will continue to be Nagy.

"I don't think so because Matt is still the guy orchestrating the offense," Pace said. "We've added some new coaches there, but as far as the blueprint of the offense, that's still going through coach Nagy."

Collaborative effort: While the Bears made Ragone their pass game coordinator, they did not name a run game coordinator.

"It's going to be a collaborative effort," Pace said. "I think Juan Castillo has a lot of strengths in that area."

Castillo has spent 24 seasons coaching in the NFL with the Eagles (1995-2012), Ravens (2013-16) and Bills (2017-18). He most recently served as offensive line coach and run game coordinator with the Bills. In his two seasons, Buffalo ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing in 2017 (126.1 yards per game) and fifth in 2018 (124.0).

"The best part about him is he pushes you like none other," said Nagy, who worked with Castillo on coach Andy Reid's staff with the Eagles from 2008-12. "When you get out to practice and see how hard he works these guys, he's going to push them to the brink. But at the same time, they are going to know that he would fall on a sword for them."

Staying put: Pace spoke to the media at the Combine for the first time since the Bears announced Jan. 14 that they were going to conduct training camp at Halas Hall, ending an 18-year stint at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.

The Bears believe that training at their year-round facility—which recently doubled in size via a massive renovation project—will give them a competitive advantage.

"It's such a taxing time on our players' bodies," Pace said. "To be there with all those valuable resources is huge. We respect ONU and Bourbonnais and everything we had there and the history there. But I think coming back for us is really going to benefit our players just from a recovery standpoint and preparation standpoint."

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