The Chargers announced Tuesday they've hired former Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Bob Babich as the team's new linebackers coach, replacing Mike Nolan, who decided to pursue other opportunities.
Babich owns an impressive resume that includes 33 years of coaching experience, including the last three (2013-15) at the helm of Jacksonville's defense. The Jaguars improved steadily in Babich's first season in 2013 as linebacker Paul Posluszny led the team with 161 tackles on his way to his first Pro Bowl. In 2014, Jacksonville ranked sixth in the NFL with 45 sacks, fourth in team history. They also led the league with 19 sack-fumbles, ranked second with 14 fumble recoveries, and were third in the NFL with a franchise-record 19 forced fumbles.
Prior to joining the Jaguars, Babich spent nine seasons (2004-12) with the Chicago Bears, splitting time between linebackers coach and defensive coordinator. During his tenure, the Bears boasted one of the top linebacking corps in the NFL. Brian Urlacher was named the 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year under Babich's guidance, while being selected to four Pro Bowls. In 2007, Urlacher became the first linebacker in Bears' history with five sacks and five interceptions in a single season. Meanwhile, Lance Briggs became just the fourth Bears' linebacker to be selected to seven-consecutive Pro Bowls, joining Dick Butkus, Bill George and Mike Singletary. Either Urlacher or Briggs led Chicago in tackles each season under Babich's tutelage.
Babich spent 19 seasons at the collegiate level before entering the NFL as the St. Louis Rams' linebackers coach in 2003. It included a six-year stretch as the head coach at North Dakota State (1997-02), during which time he amassed a 46-22 record with two NCAA Division II playoff appearances. Prior to leading the Bison, Babich served as an assistant coach at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Bowling Green, East Carolina and Pittsburgh.
During Nolan's brief tenure, the Chargers' linebacking corps demonstrated marked growth.
"It was a great having Mike with us," said Head Coach Mike McCoy. "Having worked with him before and having his head coaching experience available were two huge assets to me, the staff and the team. Mike will find success and bring success wherever he goes."
"I want to thank Coach Nolan for his hard work and contributions during the 2015 season," said General Manager Tom Telesco. "He was only with us for one season, but our young linebackers really grew under his tutelage as the season went along and his experience had a lot to do with their growth."