Joe DeCamillis joins Bears' staff
After speaking with new Bears coach Marc Trestman on Wednesday, DeCamillis and the team came to an agreement to be special teams coach and assistant head coach.
But DeCamillis first had to wait for the Dallas Cowboys to release him from his contract.
"I'm glad to have the opportunity to get there. I think it's obviously a great situation," DeCamillis said. "Dave (Toub) has already got the thing going; great tradition there. You've got awesome pieces to work with. So I'm excited to get there for sure."
Having spent the past four years with the Cowboys, DeCamillis interviewed for Chicago's vacant head-coaching position, but he wasn't among the finalists in an interview pool that included 13 candidates.
Considered in NFL circles to be one of the league's top special teams coaches, DeCamillis has coached 24 years in the league.
DeCamillis started his career in 1988 with the Denver Broncos, where he worked until 1992 before joining the New York Giants. Other coaching stops for DeCamillis include Atlanta (1997-2006), where he worked with Chicago general manager Phil Emery, who was a member of the Falcons' personnel staff at the time, and Jacksonville (2007-08), where he worked with Bears punter Adam Podlesh before leaving in 2009 for the Cowboys.
Podlesh spent his first two years in the NFL with DeCamillis in Jacksonville.
"He's the reason Jacksonville drafted me," Podlesh said. "He came and worked me out coming out of the University of Maryland and I believe he was the driving force behind the Jaguars using a fourth-round pick on me. In my two years with Joe, he was a high-energy guy who always schemes to put his core players in the position to succeed. This is really a good decision by the Bears because Joe is a great guy and a terrific special teams coach. I think his concepts are going to work with the guys we already have in place. To be honest, I'm a little surprised Dallas let him leave. Joe is going to be a great fit."
DeCamillis was equally complimentary of Podlesh.
"I'm excited to be working with him again. He brings exactly what we want. We want a directional guy that's gonna limit deep returns," DeCamillis said. "He's done a great job of that. I think he's coming into his own."
DeCamillis, 47, called his conversation with Trestman "very impressive" and added "I'm really looking forward to getting to know him and work for him because he'll bring a really positive influence to that team that's there already."
DeCamillis also expressed excitement about the opportunity to work with Bears return man Devin Hester, whom he considers "one of the best of all time, if not the best of all time." Despite Hester experiencing somewhat of a down year in 2012, DeCamillis thinks "he's got a lot of juice left in the tank."
"I know one thing: I'm glad to be on his side rather than against him," DeCamillis said. "I can promise you that. I'll get more sleep, that's for sure."
DeCamillis takes over a special-teams unit that has traditionally performed among the league's best. Several valuable pieces remain on the roster such as Podlesh, kicker Robbie Gould, long-snapper Patrick Mannelly and former Pro Bowler Eric Weems, not to mention players such as Blake Costanzo, Sherrick McManis and Craig Steltz, in addition to Hester, whose status for 2013 remains unclear.
Over the years, DeCamillis had raved from afar about Chicago's emphasis on special teams, and admitted it was one of the major driving factors in his decision to leave the Cowboys.
"Obviously, that's been a place that has really had a great tradition, not only with just Dave (Toub) being there, but also even before that to a certain extent. There were a lot of guys there like Keith Armstrong, Danny Abramowicz, guys that have have gotten that started, plus the head coaches that were there had really done a good job of that," DeCamillis said. "Chicago is a tough-minded city and they like tough-minded players, and that's usually what you're gonna get on teams there. We want to try to add to that as much as we can."
Gould doesn't know DeCamillis but said the coach has garnered such a reputation around the league that all he's heard are positive reviews.
With the club losing Toub and his assistant Kevin O'Dea to the Kansas City Chiefs, Gould considers the decision to bring on DeCamillis "a big boost to our morale."
"As a special-teams unit we will be able to pick up right where we left off," Gould said. "DeCamillis has done great in every stop as a special teams coordinator. There is something to be said when you hire a coach with the kind of credibility that DeCamillis has."
Now it's time to put those credentials to use to help what should be a much different staff under Trestman, who isn't expected to retain many assistants from the Lovie Smith regime.
"Hopefully I'll give them some direction as far as other things just besides special teams. I'm gonna bring passion. I'm gonna try to keep that tradition of great special teams with the Bears in the same light that it's been in," DeCamillis said. "It's good to have those players there, that's for sure. I hope I'm a tough-minded guy that can add to what they have already. They've got that toughness already. When you go to a job usually, you have to rebuild the thing. Well, there in Chicago, you don't have to rebuild it. You've just got to add to it.
"So I'm jacked up about all those specialists. They've done a great job, and hopefully we can just add to it."
As for the Cowboys, finding a new special teams coordinator will be added to the vacancies on Jason Garrett's staff. They need a running backs coach and could be filling multiple spots on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball, but no official moves have been announced.
The Cowboys had some hit-and-miss moments on special teams under DeCamillis, including in 2012 when they allowed a blocked punt for a touchdown as well as kickoff and punt returns for scores. Dwayne Harris returned a punt for a touchdown and Dez Bryant helped set up a clinching score for a touchdown with a punt return versus Tampa Bay. Dan Bailey also had three game-winning field goals in the final seven games.
ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer and ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson contributed to this report.