LAKE FOREST, IL – The Chicago Bears reached an agreement with Matt Cavanaugh, making him their quarterbacks coach.
This is Cavanaugh’s second stint with the Bears, working as the team’s offensive coordinator in 1997 and 1998.
Cavanaugh has 21 years of coaching experience, including 15 seasons in the NFL and 12 as an NFL or collegiate offensive coordinator.
He spent the last four seasons (2009-12) in New York working with the Jets quarterbacks. During those four seasons, the Jets made two AFC Championship game appearances. In six postseason contests during that time, Jets signal caller Mark Sanchez had a 94.3 passer rating, ninth highest in NFL playoff history among quarterbacks with at least 100 postseason attempts. Sanchez’s nine postseason touchdown passes are most in franchise history and his 1,155 passing yards in the playoffs are second.
Prior to his time with the Jets, Cavanaugh spent four seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh (2005-08). It was his second stint at Pitt after making his coaching debut in 1993 working with the Panthers tight ends. As offensive coordinator, Cavanaugh helped tutor future NFL running backs LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howlin.
Tim Tebow & Matt Cavanaugh
Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports
In 2006, quarterback Tyler Palko ranked fourth in the nation in passing efficiency with a 163.25 rating. In 2007 as a freshman under Cavanaugh, McCoy was 21st in the nation in rushing averaging 110.7 yards per game. McCoy followed up that campaign by ranking 10th in the nation in rushing in 2008, averaging 114.5 yards per game. His 21 touchdowns as a sophomore were tied for third most in the NCAA that year and his 36 total touchdowns (35 rushing) in his two years under Cavanaugh set an NCAA record for touchdowns by a player through his sophomore campaign. McCoy’s 2,816 rushing yards ranked fourth in school history, despite only playing for two seasons before leaving for the NFL.
Cavanaugh joined the University of Pittsburgh after working as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator from 1999-2004, which included the franchise’s Super Bowl XXXV victory in 2000. During that season, the Ravens ground game churned out a franchise-record 2,199 yards, fifth most in the NFL. Jamal Lewis had 1,364 rushing yards as a rookie that season, ranking seventh in the NFL. Under Cavanaugh’s tutelage Lewis went on to produce 2,066 rushing yards in 2003, third-highest in NFL history, one of seven 2,000-yard rushers in league annals.
During his first stint with the Bears, Cavanaugh helped direct quarterback Erik Kramer to 3,011 passing yards in 1997, which at the time was fourth-highest in franchise history and still eighth highest. The 3,501 gross passing yards in 1997 are fifth most in franchise history. That year running back Raymont Harris had 1,033 rushing yards marking one of just five times in Bears history they have produced a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. Despite injuries to the quarterback position in 1998, the Bears offense produced 3,277 passing yards as wideout Bobby Engram had 987 receiving yards, 13th most in franchise single-season annals.
Cavanaugh served as quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 1996 as Steve Young led the NFL in passer rating (97.2) and completion percentage (67.7), which was the fourth highest of his career. He got his first taste of NFL coaching in 1994, working as the quarterbacks coach of the Arizona Cardinals, a position he held for two years.
Cavanaugh won two Super Bowl titles as a backup quarterback with the New York Giants (XXV) and the 49ers (XIX). He was a second-round selection (50th overall) of the Patriots in 1978 NFL Draft, spending five seasons (1978-82) with New England before stints with the 49ers (1983-85), Eagles (1986-89) and Giants (1990-91). He appeared in 112 contests with 19 starts, completing 305 of 579 passes for 4,332 yards, 28 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
As a collegiate quarterback, Cavanaugh guided Pitt to the 1976 National Championship and was named the Sugar Bowl MVP after a 27-3 victory over Georgia. A year later, he earned All-America honors.
Cavanaugh earned his bachelor’s degree from Pitt in administration of justice. He and his wife, Maria, have three children: Amy, Andrew and Mollie.
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