Bears hire Jets' Cavanaugh as QB coach

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
10:54
AM ET
The Chicago Bears moved closer to completing the offensive staff on Thursday by announcing the hiring former New York Jets assistant Matt Cavanaugh on Friday as quarterbacks coach, marking his second stint with the franchise.

[+] EnlargeMatt Cavanaugh, Mark Sanchez
AP Photo/Kevin TerrellMatt Cavanaugh is a 21-year coaching veteran, including the past four seasons working with Mark Sanchez and the Jets.
Having spent the past four seasons (2009-12) as an assistant with the Jets coaching quarterbacks, Cavanaugh previously worked from 1997-98 as offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.

A 21-year coaching veteran, Cavanaugh has spent 15 seasons in the NFL and 12 as an offensive coordinator on the collegiate or NFL level.

The hiring of Cavanaugh came a day after the Bears fired the entire offensive staff from the Lovie Smith regime. The Bears brought on former Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete on Thursday to hold the same position under the new regime of head coach Marc Trestman. The team also hired special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis to replace Dave Toub, who left the Bears to join the Kansas City Chiefs.

On Thursday, the Bears fired linebackers coach Bob Babich, who could land in Jacksonville as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, but kept three holdovers from Smith's staff in assistant defensive backs/safeties coach Gil Byrd, secondary coach Jon Hoke and defensive line coach Mike Phair. The club is still conducting a search for a defensive coordinator to replace Rod Marinelli, a close friend of Smith's, who -- despite being asked to stay -- decided to pursue other opportunities.

There is a chance Hoke could be elevated to defensive coordinator. Some coaches remaining from Smith's staff will meet Friday with the Bears, meaning it's likely Hoke could be interviewing with Trestman to discuss the defensive coordinator position, according to a source.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Mel Tucker would seem to be an ideal fit for the position, considering he's coached 3-4 and 4-3 schemes throughout a career that includes a stop at Cleveland, where he served as defensive backs coach (2005-07) and defensive coordinator (2008). Tucker's scheme with the Jaguars is similar to what the Bears ran under Smith, and although it isn't a full-blown Tampa 2 system, it certainly incorporated elements of it.

During Cavanaugh's four seasons with the Jets, the club advanced to two AFC Championship games, and during the six playoff games during that time, quarterback Mark Sanchez posted a passer rating of 94.3, which ranks as the ninth-best in NFL postseason history among passers with at least 100 attempts. Sanchez also tossed nine touchdown passes in the playoffs during that time, which ranks as the most in Jets history.

But despite that success early on, Sanchez seemed to regress and finished the 2012 season with a QBR of 23.4 and a passer rating of 66.9. Over four years in the NFL, Sanchez has posted a passer rating of 71.7 and hasn't finished a season in his career with a passer rating of better than 78.2.

Before joining the Jets in 2009, Cavanaugh worked four seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh (2005-08).

During his first stint with the Bears, quarterback Erik Kramer passed for 3,011 yards in 1997, which at that time marked the fourth-most yards in franchise history.

A former NFL quarterback, Cavanaugh spent time with the New England Patriots (1978-82), San Francisco 49ers (1983-85), Philadelphia Eagles
(1986-89 and New York Giants (1990-91), where he served as the backup for two Super Bowl teams (1984 49ers and 1990 Giants).

Editor's note: An editor incorrectly inserted news that Bob Babich had been named defensive coordinator of the Jaguars on Friday in an earlier version of this story.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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