Bears hire Jeff Rodgers as ST coordinator

John Fox has made his first hire as head coach of the Chicago Bears, naming Jeff Rodgers his special teams coordinator.

LAKE FOREST, IL – The Chicago Bears have reached an agreement with Jeff Rodgers to become the team’s special teams coordinator.

Rodgers spent the last four seasons as the special teams coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He has 11 years NFL experience coaching special teams and 14 seasons coaching experience overall.

During Rodgers’ four seasons in Denver, the Broncos ranked 10th in the NFL in gross punting average (45.6 yards per punt) and 11th in net punting average (39.6 ypp). Denver’s six total kick return touchdowns (four punt and two kickoff) were tied for second most in the NFL during Rodgers’ time with the team with the Broncos 24.5 kickoff return average ranking ninth in the NFL since 2011.

Under Rodgers’ tutelage, Broncos kicker Matt Prater was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2013 season after setting franchise records in field goal percentage (96.2 percent, 25-of-26) and points scored (150). Prater’s 64-yard field goal on December 8, 2013 is the longest in NFL history. In 2014, Connor Barth’s 93.8 field goal percentage (15-of-16) was second-highest in franchise single-season history.

In Rodgers’ second season with the Broncos, Denver’s special teams allowed the second-lowest punt return average (6.0 yards per return) and the seventh-lowest kickoff return average (22.1 ypr) in the NFL. During the Divisional Playoffs that season, Trindon Holliday became the first player in NFL history to record multiple return touchdowns in a single playoff game (90-yard punt return score and a 104-yard kick return touchdown).

In 2011, Denver was third in the NFL in punt return average (12.7 ypr), including two touchdowns.

Under Rodgers’ direction in 2011, Colquitt set single-season franchise records for gross (47.4) and net punting (40.2) averages. Denver was sixth in the NFL in gross punt average and eighth in net punting average as punter Britton Colquitt set a franchise record with a 47.4 gross average. Colquitt’s 42.1 net punting average in 2012 and 40.2 average in 2011 are first and second in franchise single-season annals.

Prior to his time in Denver, Rodgers spent two seasons in Carolina under Bears head coach John Fox, first as the Panthers special teams assistant (2009) before being named special teams coordinator (2010). He came to Carolina after spending the 2008 season at Kansas State as the Wildcats special teams coordinator.

Rodgers got his NFL coaching experience in San Francisco working as the special teams quality control coach from 2003-04 before being named assistant special teams coach in 2005, a title he held for three seasons. During his five seasons working with San Francisco’s special teams, long snapper Brian Jennings (2004) and punter Andy Lee (2007) were Pro Bowl selections. Lee set an NFL single-season record with 42 punts landed inside-the-20 in 2007 leading to a 41.0 net punting average, second best in the league that season.

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona, where he worked with the secondary (2001) and linebackers (2002).

Rodgers played linebacker at North Texas, where he earned a degree in business, specializing in entrepreneurship and strategic management. Rodgers was born in St. Paul, Minn., and attended Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.

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