The hirings of Shane Waldron and Eric Washington appear to address significant inquiries regarding Matt Eberflus.

Vince Carbonneau
January 27, 2024  (7:47 PM)

When general manager Ryan Poles and president and CEO Kevin Warren chose to retain Bears head coach Matt Eberflus for a third season, it sparked legitimate concerns about the team's immediate future.

The primary concerns revolved around the vacancies for both the defensive and offensive coordinator positions. Following the resignation of defensive coordinator Alan Williams and the firing of running backs coach David Walker, doubts emerged regarding Eberflus' ability to identify and hire suitable candidates for these critical roles.
Moreover, there was skepticism about Eberflus' ability to attract top-notch candidates, given the challenges he faced during his first two seasons in Chicago and the pressure to have a successful 2024 season.
However, just over two weeks after Eberflus was retained, he filled both coordinator positions with highly regarded candidates, suggesting that he possesses the ability to identify top talent and that his position may not be as precarious as initially thought.
First, the Bears appointed Shane Waldron as their offensive coordinator, replacing Luke Getsy. Waldron, who served as the Seattle Seahawks' offensive coordinator for the past three seasons, became available due to Pete Carroll's unexpected departure as head coach. Waldron had other options but opted for Chicago, embracing the challenge of developing Justin Fields or grooming the presumed No. 1 overall pick, Caleb Williams.
Waldron, with his extensive experience in the Shanahan coaching tree (specifically the Sean McVay branch), brings a brilliant offensive mind to the Bears. He has worked under the guidance of Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Sean McVay, and Pete Carroll, demonstrating adaptability, innovation, play-calling expertise, and the ability to work with various quarterbacks, including Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson, and Geno Smith.
An NFC scout commented, "I think he's an elite play-caller... Incredibly smart and versatile." Waldron's decision to join the Bears, despite interest from other teams like New Orleans, suggests that Eberflus' position is secure entering his third year.
After securing Waldron and quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph, the Bears appointed Eric Washington, the Buffalo Bills' assistant head coach and defensive line coach, as their defensive coordinator. Washington has experience with the 4-3 defensive scheme and previously worked under Lovie Smith in Chicago, as well as on Ron Rivera's staff in Carolina, where he served as the defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019.
Washington, widely recognized as one of the NFL's top teaching coaches, received immediate praise from across the league for his hire, including former Bears center Olin Kreutz. His track record of developing defensive linemen like Ed Oliver, Greg Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa in Buffalo, and Brian Burns in Carolina suggests that the Bears have secured an elite defensive line coach who will benefit players like Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens, and potentially a rookie edge rusher from the 2024 NFL Draft.
Eberflus has successfully attracted elite coaches to fill critical coordinator positions, demonstrating that he has learned from his initial staff construction. The Bears' coaching staff now boasts more experience and the necessary credentials to support the development of a young, promising roster and assist Eberflus in his growth as a head coach.
The Bears made significant improvements this week by adding two coaches who command universal respect in the NFL. In doing so, Eberflus may have also addressed some doubts about his own capabilities and his future with the team.
The hirings of Shane Waldron and Eric Washington appear to address significant inquiries regarding Matt Eberflus.

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