DeFilippo Brings New 'Juice' For Bears' Quarterbacks

The Bears believe John DeFilippo can command the best of their quarterbacks.

Chris Emma
June 17, 2020 - 5:49 pm

(670 The Score) When the Bears were conducting their coaching search in January 2018, the team's selection committee was struck by candidate John DeFilippo.

Then the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia, DeFilippo was at the time preparing veteran Nick Foles for what would be a championship run after starter Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending injury. DeFilippo had drawn praise from coaching peers for his ability to challenge quarterbacks and identify their strengths, and he showcased those traits as the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

The Bears ultimately hired Matt Nagy as their head coach, and DeFilippo's career took an unexpected turn south since the Eagles' championship. He was fired as Vikings offensive coordinator in December 2018, then fired from the same role by the Jaguars this past January after Jacksonville's disappointing 2019 season.

Despite that, the Bears were still enamored by DeFilippo and hired him as their new quarterbacks coach in January. Dave Ragone was removed from that role and given the newly created title of passing game coordinator. After the hiring of DeFilippo, general manager Ryan Pace was quick to note how he coaches "fundamentals and the details." Nagy referenced the "aggressiveness" in his teaching.

For DeFilippo, it's just juice.

"Playing with juice -- passion, energy and swagger, baby," DeFilippo said on a teleconference Wednesday. "That’s what we’re defined as in our room. We have a passion for the game. We have a ton of energy. We’re the same people every day. And then we walk around with a little bit of swagger to ourselves in terms of we know that we’re the best quarterback room in the National Football League. 

"It doesn’t mean that we go around and are cocky and arrogant, that doesn’t mean that at all. That just means we have a swagger about ourselves, that the only people that can beat us is if we beat ourselves." 

The Bears brought in DeFilippo to be a new voice for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who disappointed in 2019 and is now in the final season of his current rookie contract. Chicago also acquired the veteran Foles from Jacksonville, reuniting him and DeFilippo at a third stop.

With Trubisky, Foles and DeFilippo in the same room, the Bears believe they'll get the best out of their quarterback position.

"I'm very confident about where I'm at right now and what I can still do for this team," Trubisky said last week.

When DeFilippo joined the Bears in January, he met with Trubisky inside Halas Hall and could sense the defeat in him. DeFilippo told Trubisky to take some time away from football and spend part of the offseason getting rejuvenated.

DeFilippo has yet to work with Trubisky on the field, as NFL teams have conducted their work virtually during the coronavirus pandemic. When teams reconvene for the scheduled start of training camp in late July, the focus for DeFilippo will be on bringing the 25-year-old Trubisky structure. 

DeFilippo sees the same potential in Trubisky that he identified ahead of his coaching interview in early 2018. From afar, he has seen that Trubisky hasn't pieced it all together over three inconsistent seasons. DeFilippo and Trubisky got a start on addressing that recently with a one-on-one conversation over Zoom, where they discussed the struggles. One aspect they identified was how Trubisky's footwork can come unhinged during the course of the game.

DeFilippo chalked it up to keeping that mental edge sharp for four quarters.

"The thing that we need to do with Mitch early on is really just honing in on what does well and what he thinks he does well," DeFilippo said. "I have some of those things in mind.

"I'm going to be on him non-stop, in a positive way."

When Foles was thrust into the Eagles' starting role after Wentz's season-ending injury December 2017, he had DeFilippo by his side. Foles found a coach ready to cater to his strengths.

Foles and the team flourished.

"It wasn’t about the plays, and 'You’re going to run these plays,'" Foles said in April. "It was about coaches realizing -- these are the players we have and these are the players in the position. What plays can we call to put them in position to be successful? 

"Coaches that are that way are usually the more successful coaches in the world."

DeFilippo is looking to replicate that type of success in Chicago. He needed this chance with Trubisky, Foles and the Bears just as the team needed him. In the two years since being a prized head coach prospect, he has been fired twice and lost some of his appeal.

The Bears still believe in DeFilippo's coaching abilities and were eager to give him a shot. With passion, energy and swagger, he may have the juice they need.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.