Bears Insider

Shane Waldron, Eric Washington hires seem to answer key questions about Matt Eberflus

The Bears got better this week by hiring Shane Waldron and Eric Washington

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When general manager Ryan Poles and president and CEO Kevin Warren elected to retain Bears head coach Matt Eberflus for a third season, it raised legitimate concerns about what was on the immediate horizon for the Bears.

The first questions Eberflus would have to answer revolved around the Bears' open defensive and offensive coordinator positions.

After defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned and running backs coach David Walker was fired, Eberflus' ability to vet and hire the proper candidates came into question.

There was also reason to believe Eberflus would have trouble attracting the best possible candidates for these critical roles, given his rocky first two seasons in Chicago and the likelihood that he would be entering a must-win season in 2024.

Warren was adamant that wouldn't be the case.

"I don't think we'll have a problem at all getting world-class candidates, not only from an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach standpoint and a defensive coordinator standpoint," Warren said. "This is a job that people are excited about to come here and we have a lot of talent. It's always exciting to join an organization when you're on the upswing to be able to help take it to the top."

It appears he was right.

A little over two weeks after the Bears elected to retain Eberflus, the head coach filled both coordinator roles with premiere candidates, showing that he can identify top talent and that his seat might not be that warm entering 2024.

First, the Bears hired Shane Waldron as their offensive coordinator to replace Luke Getsy.

Waldron, who has spent the last three seasons as the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator, was only available because Pete Carroll surprisingly stepped down as head coach. Waldron had other options but chose to come to Chicago and embrace the challenge of elevated quarterback Justin Fields or developing presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams.

In Waldron, the Bears get a brilliant offensive mind from the Shanahan tree (Sean McVay branch). Waldron has worked for Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, McVay, and Carroll. He is adaptable and innovative, has play-called experience, and has worked with several different quarterbacks, including Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson, and Geno Smith.

"I think he's an elite play-caller," an NFC scout whose team has faced Waldron's offenses several times told NBC Sports Chicago. "Really creative schematically. He's good at covering up weaknesses. Their offensive line really struggled this year, and I thought he was able to mask it as well as anyone. He's incredibly smart and versatile. That offense will succeed no matter who the quarterback is. He'll figure it out."

The initial belief was that Eberlfus and the Bears would have to take a chance on a less proven play-caller because attracting the top candidates would be difficult with the uncertainty surrounding Eberflus' future. That Waldron, who shares an agent with Eberflus and Poles, elected to come to Chicago instead of New Orleans (who requested an interview) or any other open jobs, suggests that Eberflus is on solid ground entering Year 3.

After securing Waldron and quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph, the Bears then hired Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington as their defensive coordinator on Saturday.

Washington has experience in the 4-3 scheme. He worked under Lovie Smith in Chicago and spent several years on Ron Rivera's staff in Carolina, including two seasons as the defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019.

Washington, 54, is viewed as one of the best teachers in the NFL coaching ranks. His hire brought immediate praise from around the league, including from former Bears center Olin Kreutz.

Washington's work with Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau, and A.J. Epenesa in Buffalo, as well as Brian Burns in Carolina, shows the Bears were able to pluck an elite defensive line coach whose arrival should immediately benefit Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens, and potentially a rookie edge rusher, should the Bears select one in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Eberflus attracted elite coaches to fill critical coordinator positions and showed he took lessons from how he constructed his first staff.

With Getsy and Williams, Eberflus, a first-time head coach, surrounded himself with a rookie play-caller on offense and a defensive coordinator who hadn't called plays in over a decade.

The Bears' coaching staff is now more experienced and has the type of bona fides needed to help elevate a young, ascending roster and support Eberflus as he continues his growth as a head coach.

The Bears got better this week, adding two coaches who are universally respected around the NFL. In the process, Eberflus might have also answered some questions about himself and the nature of his future.

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