Bears hire senior defensive assistant coach Phil Snow
Bob Donnan - USA Today Sports

Bears hire senior defensive assistant coach Phil Snow

by - Senior Writer -

After making it publically known that he was looking for help on the defensive coaching staff, Matt Eberflus has spent the past few weeks looking for a veteran defensive mind to help his young defense. Roughly a month into his search, you started to hear some very familiar names pop up, but instead, Eberflus went with a less familiar option as Phil Snow has been hired to be the team's new Senior Defensive Assistant.

The hire comes after former defensive coordinator Alan Williams was let go, while the Bears have also put together two of their better defensive performances this season. While A Senior Defensive Assistant is a relatively new position, it is becoming very popular across the league as the Bears last had one in 2021 when Matt Nagy gave Mike Pettine that title.

Most senior defensive assistants work behind the scenes and solely help work on game plans, but you do have some cases, such as Brian Flores in Pittsburgh last season, that do hands-on work, so it is unclear what Snow will be doing once he gets acclimated to his new team. Snow isn't being in to become the defensive coordinator or take over his duties, but he will be coming in to lighten the load on the rest of the defensive coaching staff, which can be a good thing.

"We certainly welcome him and his experience," Eberflus said on Monday about Snow. "He'll be doing advanced scouting for our defensive staff. He'll be giving us summaries of all the situations during the course of the week. He'll be here in the building the entire week. Is he going to be at games on the headset doing all of that? No, he's not. He's not going to be at the games. He's not going to be there functioning as a coach during gameday. He'll still be an analyst that's going to be helping us out for the advance scouting."

Who is Phil Snow, you may ask? Snow is a 67-year-old with a ton of experience at both the college and professional levels as a defensive coordinator and in several other coaching roles. That alone could be one of the main reasons Eberflus brought him in, as his versatility across the entire defensive side of the ball would allow him to help out in various capacities.

Snow coached linebackers (Lions), defensive backs (Eastern Michigan, UCLA, Arizona State, Cal, Boise State), cornerbacks (Washington), and safeties (Baylor, Temple, Washington, UCLA). Those are all positions that the Bears have addressed the past two seasons, so just having someone with that knowledge and experience will go a long way in helping the overall development of these players.

There are few who come with the experience Snow has, as he has been coaching since 1976. His most recent stop was with the Carolina Panthers, where he served as the team's defensive coordinator from 2020 until early 2022, when Matt Rhule was fired, and the coaching staff went through a seismic shift. Carolina may not have been good during Rhule's tenure, but the defense did their part, as the Panthers never finished in the top half of the league in points allowed during Snow’s time in Carolina. Only once (2021) did they finish in the top half of the league in yards allowed (2nd fewest yards, but 12th-most points allowed).

After ranking in the top 10 in takeaways in 2020, Snow’s defenses finished 26th and 27th in the following two years. The Bears hope that isn't a long-term trend, as they are a team that needs to force more turnovers. Much of Snow’s coaching experience comes from his collegiate years. Snow spent time at Baylor (2017-19), Temple (2013-16), Eastern Michigan (2010-12), Washington (2003-04), UCLA (2001-02), Arizona State (1992-2000), Cal (1987-91, and Boise State (1982-86). Between those college stops was a brief stint with the Detroit Lions from 2006-08.

In other words, he has not only bounced between the NCAA and NFL levels, but has traveled from coast to coast in an effort to establish himself as a terrific football mind. When Eberflus announced that he was looking for defensive coaching help, most of the names thrown out there had some connection with Eberflus. This isn't one of those, as Snow and Eberflus have never coached together in the past. He is truly a fresh face coming into an organization that needs an overall and a different thought process putting together game plans could be the key to getting the most out of the young guys.

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