Babich finds soft landing in Jacksonville

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Chicago Bears linebackers coach Bob Babich’s nine-year run in Chicago came to an abrupt end the day Lovie Smith got fired on December 31.

But Babich, a 29-year coaching veteran, was able to land on his feet and re-unite with long-time friend and colleague Gus Bradley, who was named the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars after a four-year run as the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator.

The two men’s professional relationship dates back to the late 1990s, when Bradley spent several seasons as Babich’s defensive coordinator at North Dakota State. Babich left the North Dakota State program in 2003 and joined Lovie Smith in St. Louis before making the move to Chicago in 2004 to be the Bears' linebackers coach. He also had a brief stint as Bears defensive coordinator in 2007-08, but Babich’s best work was done in the linebackers meeting room, where he worked daily with Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, plus talented strong side linebackers Hunter Hillenmeyer, Pisa Tinoisama and Nick Roach.

Bradley said on Saturday he wants Babich to bring that valuable experience he gained in Chicago to his new role in Jacksonville.

“In Chicago over the years they played great defense,” Bradley said. “The amount of takeaways they get year in and year out and the amount of discipline ... they do what they do, and they do it well. That’s what we did up in Seattle. We try to do a few things and do them well. We have the same philosophy. I think his energy and that mindset, we can mesh it together and put something special together.”