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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Chicago Bears fill coaching vacancies

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

The Chicago Bears will bring on Reggie Herring to take over as the club’s linebackers coach as the replacement for the recently fired Tim Tibesar, a league source confirmed to ESPN.com

Herring had spent the previous three seasons coaching linebackers for Houston, but he was a part of a defensive staff purge that took place three days after the Texans hired Bill O’Brien as their new head coach. The club, which recently concluded interviews with candidates at the Senior Bowl, will also bring aboard Paul Pasqualoni to coach the defensive line, an NFL source confirmed.

Naturally, Herring and Pasqualoni's backgrounds as coaches on teams that play 3-4 defensive fronts lead to speculation the Bears could be considering making the transition away from their 4-3 defense. But it would be premature to make that assumption given the team’s current personnel, and the fact the Bears haven’t yet added players that could assimilate to a 3-4 front.

That’s not to say it won’t happen. After all, Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is well-versed in 3-4 defense, and has coached it at Cleveland and sparingly in Jacksonville.

Pasqualoni last coached at Connecticut (2011-13), but has worked three different stints for the Dallas Cowboys. The former head coach of Syracuse (1991-2004), Pasqualoni coached tight ends for the Cowboys in 2005 before working with the linebackers from 2006-07. He moved over to Dallas' defensive line in 2010, and also served as interim defensive coordinator when the Cowboys fired Wade Phillips.

Herring and Pasqualoni have both worked with Bears special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. Both are regarded as strong teachers with tough mentalities and the ability to coax the most from players in terms of effort.

Like Pasqualoni, who began his coaching career in 1972, Herring brings a breadth of experience to Chicago.

A 32-year coaching veteran, Herring’s ledger includes several college stints at Arkansas (2005-07), North Carolina State (2004), Clemson (1994-2001), Texas Christian (1992-93), Auburn (1986-91) and Oklahoma State (1982-85). At Arkansas, North Carolina State, Clemson and Texas Christian, Herring served as defensive coordinator as well as a linebackers coach.

A former linebacker at Florida State (1978-80), where he ranks as the school’s third all-time leading tackler, Herring will now preside over a Bears linebacking corps that was ravaged by injuries to D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs, and marred by inconsistency due to being forced to play a pair of rookies in Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene for extended periods.

The Bears allowed a franchise-record 6,313 yards, while surrendering a franchise-worst 2,583 yards rushing. Opponents averaged 5.35 yards per rushing attempt, which also qualifies as the worst in franchise history.

Herring coached linebackers ffor the Cowboys from 2008-10, before leaving in 2011 to join former Texans defensive coordinator Phillips in Houston.

That season, Houston’s linebackers contributed largely to the third-largest defensive improvement in NFL history since the merger. The Texans finished second in the league in total defense, surrendering 285.7 yards per game, just one season removed from allowing 376.9 yards per game in 2010 on the way to a No. 30 ranking. Houston’s linebackers contributed 27 of the team’s franchise-record 44 sacks that season.

On the collegiate level, Herring’s teams advanced to 18 bowl games, and in 2006 he was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is given annually to the top assistant coach in the country.