By Adam Hoge-
LAKE FOREST (CBS) — Paul Pasqualoni has made quite the impression in just a few months.
The Bears’ new defensive line coach has received rave reviews from players, but the highest compliment may have come Tuesday from Stephen Paea after the defensive tackle was asked to compare Pasqualoni to former defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys.
“Coach (Pasqualoni) is more detailed,” Paea told 670 The Score. “From steps, hands, where you put your eyes, all that. He’s more into details. Rod Marinelli is a great coach. Everybody has their own style of coaching. I’ve learned a lot more in the last three weeks here than I have in the last three years. Just the way we changed a few things in the defense, and I love it.”
Pasqualoni will be Paea’s third defensive line coach in three years after Mike Phair was fired in the offseason. The team also hired Clint Hurtt to be the team’s new assistant defensive line coach and added Joe Kim, a martial arts instructor who specializes with hand technique.
“It’s all about how fast you put your hands on the O-line and control the O-line,” Paea said. “It’s not putting your head through the gap anymore like we did with the old ways.”
In addition to the new techniques, Paea also believes the defense is better prepared with their alignments.
“Being smart formation-wise. I’m out there knowing what the linebackers are doing. And not only that, I know what the O-line is doing,” Paea said. “That’s the biggest thing for us this year, we know what the our enemy is doing, which is the O-line. And when you know that, you have an advantage. You know their weaknesses, what do they do, what step they block you with, and it’s impressive because you see it on film … That’s the best thing. You can’t just talk about it, it has to show up on film.”
Paea also views teammate Jeremiah Ratlff as an extension of the coaching staff because Ratliff used to work with Pasqualoni when they were both with the Cowboys.
“I’m excited because I have like two coaches on the same page teaching me stuff not only in the huddle and off the huddle,” he said.
As for Paea, specifically, this is a big year for him. It’s the last year of his rookie contract, and he struggled through most of last season with a turf toe injury.
“You see how I played,” Paea said. “I let my teammates down and the best thing about it is I have a second chance.”
He does have another chance, but it could be the last. The Bears used two of their first three picks in this year’s NFL Draft on defensive tackles. For now, Paea appears to have regained his spot as the team’s No. 1 nose tackle, but he knows there is competition with Raliff being able to play both defensive tackle positions and rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton right behind them.
“Just put a chip on my shoulder this year,” he said. “It’s the last year on my contract with the Bears, so I have to play like it. It’s an all-in year for me.”
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.