Before Phil Emery decided on which players he would bring in on the defensive line to fix the problems it had last year, he had to decide who was the best man was to bring out the best in the players. He decided to bring in former Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni.
Pasqualoni was the perfect choice. He has 42 years of experience coaching so he’s about seen it all and knows all the excuses.
Pasqualaoni had input when the Bears had a big decision to make-whether to sign Henry Melton to a big new contract or sign Jeremiah Ratliff to a more cap-friendly deal. The important question was which one of the two is better recovered from injury.
Ratliff signed with the Bears in the final month of last season after missing the season after groin surgery. Melton tore his ACL early last season.
Pasqualoni coached Ratliff with the Cowboys so he was familiar with him. Pasqualoni and the Bears chose Ratliff.
As the NFL heads into training camp, Melton hasn’t gotten onto the field for OTA’s or minicamp, while, according to Pasqualoni, Ratliff is looking like his old self.
“I think he’s very close,” Pasqualoni said of Ratliff. “He’s in very good physical condition, and his weight’s about where he wants it to be when he comes back for preseason camp.”
In the offseason, the Bears hit free agency hard by signing defensive ends LaMarr Houston and Jared Allen. Houston has to move to the left end, a position he hasn’t played much. Pasqualoni and the Bears worked hard over the past month to get him comfortable with the move.
Pasqualoni loves handling his linemen, and he loves talking them up.
“You can see the quickness, speed, and explosiveness he’s capable of playing with,” he said. “He’s going to give us a pretty stout guy on first and second downs, and a guy who’s capable on third down of either rushing inside or outside. He’s going to give us flexibility with what he can do.”
In his short time with Allen, Pasqualoni has nothing but high praise for the future hall of famer. “Jared has brought a lot of energy and experience to the program, to our meeting room: a guy who’s just flat-out smart and a very knowledgeable football player,” Pasqualoni said. “He has great vision, can see what’s going on and tells you what’s happening in the game, and there’s no substitute for that.”
The Bears are hoping to have the defense perform to the standard the fans are used to seeing. Hiring Paul Pasqualoni took a big step toward reaching that goal.