LAKE FOREST, IL – The Chicago Bears announced today that they have added assistant coaches Zach Azzanni, Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II. Azzanni replaces Curtis Johnson as the wide receivers coach, Staley replaces Clint Hurtt as the outside linebackers coach and Swinton replaces Richard Hightower as the assistant special teams coach.
Azzanni comes to the Bears with 18 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level with Tennessee (2013-16), Wisconsin (2012), Western Kentucky (2011), Florida (2010), Central Michigan (2007-09), Bowling Green (2001-06) and Valparaiso (1999-00).
Azzanni joined Tennessee in 2013 as the wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator before being promoted to the passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach prior to the start of the 2015 season. In his first season at Tennessee, Azzanni helped freshman WR Marques North earn SEC all-Freshman honors after finishing the season with 38 catches for 496 yards. North’s 38 catches rank 2nd in school history among freshman receivers.
Prior to his time with the Volunteers, Azzanni held the title of wide receivers coach at Wisconsin (2012). While there, he helped WR Jared Abbrederis earn first-team all-Big Ten honors.
Azzanni spent 2011 as the offensive coordinator/ wide receivers coach at Western Kentucky. In his lone season at WKU, the school featured the nation’s 2nd leading rusher in Bobby Rainey (141.3 ypg) and TE Jack Doyle finished 5th in the nation in receiving yards among tight ends (614).
Azzanni was hired as the passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach at Florida after the conclusion of the 2009 college regular season. In his first game as coach, he helped QB Tim Tebow throw for a career-high 482 passing yards in the Sugar Bowl vs. Cincinnati. In 2010, he helped coach the Gators to the Outback Bowl.
Prior to his time in Florida, Azzanni spent three seasons (2007-09) as the assistant head coach/wide receivers coach at his alma mater, Central Michigan. In 2009, he was named the Wide Receivers Coach of the ear by FootballScoop.com. Under his tutelage, WR Bryan Anderson set an NCAA record with a catch in 53 consecutive games while his teammate, WR Antonio Brown, caught a pass in 40 consecutive games.
From 2001-06, Azzanni coached at Bowling Green as the wide receivers coach (2003-06) and graduate assistant (2001-02). He began his coaching career during the 1999-2000 campaign at Valparaiso as the wide receivers coach. In 2004, the Bowling Green receiving corps produced four, 1,000 yard receivers and was ranked the nation’s 3rd best receiving group in the nation by Athlon Sports.
Azzanni played wide receiver at Central Michigan from 1994-98.
Staley joins the Bears with 11 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level with John Carroll (2013, 2015-16), James Madison (2014), Tennessee (2012), Hutchinson (KS) Community College (2010-11), St. Thomas (2009) and Northern Illinois (2006-08).
Staley spent three seasons (2013, 2015-16) as the defensive coordinator/secondary coach with John Carroll. Last season he helped John Carroll finish 3rd in the nation in total defense (218.0), 4th in scoring defense (12.6), 7th in third down percentage (.257) and passing defense (139.7) and 13th in rushing defense. In 2014, John Carroll’s defense finished 2nd in the country in sacks per game (4.5) and 9th in passing yards per game (154.6). Staley was also named OAC Co-Assistant Coach of the Year in his first season with John Carroll in 2013.
Staley spent 2014 as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at James Madison. Under his guidance, the defense ranked 11th in the nation in turnovers (28) and 13th in sacks per game (2.85).
In 2012, Staley coached as a graduate assistant for Tennessee. He was tasked with coaching the inside linebackers as well as a special teams assistant. Under his tutelage, AJ Johnson led the SEC and ranked 4th in the nation in tackles with 138.
Staley held the title of associate head coach/defensive coordinator for two seasons (2010-11) at Hutchinson (KS) Community College before joining Tennessee. During his tenure, Hutchinson compiled a 19-5 record and earned two Salt Bowl championships. Staley helped coach nine players to FBS/FCS scholarships, with three of those players becoming NFL draft picks (Cordarrelle Patterson, 1st round pick by the Minnesota Vikings; Markus Golden, 2nd round pick by the Arizona Cardinals; Devondre Campbell, 4th round pick of the Atlanta Falcons).
Prior to coaching at Hutchinson, Staley was an assistant coach at St. Thomas for a season (2009), dealing with the linebackers and special teams and a graduate assistant at Northern Illinois (2006-08), coaching the secondary (2006-07), linebackers (2008) and special teams (2006-08).
Staley played football collegiately at Dayton and Mercyhurst.
Derius Swinton II
Derius Swinton II re-joins the Bears, possessing eight years of NFL experience coaching special teams with the San Francisco 49ers (2016), Chicago Bears (2015), Denver Broncos (2013-14), Kansas City Chiefs (2012) and St. Louis Rams (2009-11). Swinton also spent two years coaching at the collegiate level at the University of Tennessee (2007-08).
Swinton spent 2016 with the 49ers as their special teams coordinator. Under his direction, San Francisco saw improvement from 2015 in yards per kickoff return allowed (25.7 to 19.8) and punt return average (7.5 to 9.4). In 2016, the 49ers ranked 5th and 10th in those two categories, respectively.
In 2015, Swinton worked with the Bears as the assistant special teams coach. P Patrick O’Donnell saw improvement in a number of statistical categories under Swinton’s guidance, including gross average (44.2), net average (39.7) and punts inside the 20-yard line (28). K Robbie Gould made a career-high 33 field goals which ranked tied for second in the NFL. Gould led the NFL with seven made field goals from 50-or-more yards, which was also a career high.
Swinton spent two seasons (2013-14) as the Broncos assistant special teams coach. During his time in Denver, the Broncos were 9th in the NFL in field goal percentage (89.1, 49-of-55). In 2013, K Matt Prater was named to the Pro Bowl 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. Broncos returner Trindon Holliday was one of only two players in the NFL to have both a punt and kickoff return touchdown since the start of the 2013 season.
Swinton came to the Broncos after serving as a special teams quality control coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. During that season, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt was named to his first Pro Bowl after ranking second in the NFL in punts inside-the-20 (45). Kansas City’s special teams units also accounted for three forced fumbles, one blocked punt and one touchdown during the 2012 campaign.
Prior to his time in Kanas City, Swinton spent three seasons (2009-11) in St. Louis as the Rams quality control – special teams coach. The Rams were 3rd in the NFL in net punting average (39.3 yards per punt) and combined kick return yards (5,802), 4th in punt return average (11.0 yards per return) and 5th in punts downed inside-the-20 (95) during his tenure in St. Louis.
Swinton made his coaching debut as a defensive graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee in 2007, a title he held for two years. In 2008, the Volunteers ranked 3rd in the nation in total defense (263.5 ypg).
The Newport News, Va., native played safety and basketball at Hampton University from 2003-06.