Barkevious Mingo followed ‘trustworthy’ position coach to Falcons

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (50) readies for the play in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Bears won 33-27. (David Berding/AP)

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Chicago Bears outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (50) readies for the play in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Bears won 33-27. (David Berding/AP)

It has been an unconventional path for someone once selected with the sixth pick in the NFL draft.

Barkevious Mingo, who signed a one-year contract with the Falcons last week, hasn’t had the dominating kind of career many envisioned when the Cleveland Browns selected him No. 6 overall in 2013.

Even so, Mingo has put together an eight-year career that has included 40 starts in 126 games, which many players would dream of achieving.

However, his journey has been unique. After his third season with the Browns, he was traded to the New England Patriots just before the 2016 season began.

Since then, Mingo has been with a different team each year.

While it wasn’t his expected path, Mingo learned to embrace the yearly change. Not long ago he began thinking it may have actually benefited his career in some capacity.

“It’s taken some getting used to,” Mingo siad. “I will say that I’ve come to like the idea of playing on a different team. I guess most people wouldn’t say that -- you want to stay on one team your whole career. … It has its ups and its downs, its challenges and its rewards. I like to look at it from the standpoint of I’m getting to meet a lot of different people, learn from a lot of different people and play with a lot of different people. Ultimately, I feel like it’s helped my career from that standpoint.”

After his season with New England, where he was a part of the team that defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, he signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts. There, he met and formed a positive relationship with defensive coordinator Ted Monachino.

Following his time with Indianapolis, and after stints with Seattle (2018) and Houston (2019), Mingo rejoined Monachino, this time an outside linebackers coach, after signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears in 2020.

Mingo was then approached with the idea of working with Monachino for a third time after the longtime assistant took the Falcons’ outside linebackers coaching job. It was an opportunity Mingo didn’t want to let pass.

“It’s more so a trust factor, I can say. He’s a trustworthy person,” Mingo said. “He tells you exactly how he sees it and doesn’t hold anything back. As a player we all respect that. He’s not going to BS you. He’s going to say this is how it’s going to be. If it’s in his control, that’s the way it’s going to be. And I respect him and love to play for a coach that way.”

What role Mingo provides for the Falcons remains to be seen.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said in his lone media appearance that his scheme will be multiple, although his history has been steeped in the 3-4. With the Bears in 2020, Mingo played 36% of the team’s defensive snaps and was a staple on special teams, playing 82% of the snaps in that phase.

During his previous eight seasons in the NFL, Mingo has totaled 255 tackles and 12.5 sacks. From a production standpoint, his best season came as a rookie, when he posted five sacks with the Browns. Mostly a rotational player in eight years, Mingo has only reached double digits in starts twice -- the first time with the Browns in 2014 (11) and the second time with the Seattle Seahawks in 2018 (14).

Mingo said he’s open to whatever plan Pees and Falcons coach Arthur Smith have in store.

“I’m open to play as much as they need me to,” Mingo said. “I think as a competitor, you want to be able to be on the field and have an impact. That hasn’t changed for me. I love playing this game and I love it more when I’m on the field playing the game. We’ll discuss that later, it’s not my decision to make.”

With the Falcons being the seventh team he will have played for in his career, Mingo has had the opportunity to meet numerous players and coaches.

With the Falcons, he’ll actually link back up with linebacker Deion Jones, a former college teammate he helped recruit back when was attending LSU. The two played one season together when Jones was a freshman and Mingo a senior.

Back then, Mingo could tell Jones would become a great linebacker both in college and eventually the NFL.

“I know the kind of player he is and he’s a leader on this team,” Mingo said. “I know what he stands for as a defender and the work he puts into it. I feel like this defense epitomizes the way he plays the game.”