The Implications of Bears Bringing in Shane Waldron for Justin Fields and the Quarterback Decision

Vince Carbonneau
January 23, 2024  (7:03)

The Chicago Bears' quest for a new offensive coordinator has culminated in the selection of a candidate who aligns perfectly with the criteria set forth by Coach Matt Eberflus and General Manager Ryan Poles following the departure of Luke Getsy.

It has been confirmed by a source to NBC Sports Chicago that the Bears are in the final stages of securing a contract with Shane Waldron, the current offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, to assume the role of their next Offensive Coordinator.
In Waldron, the Bears gain an experienced play-caller with a background rooted in the Shanahan coaching tree. His extensive experience encompasses working with a diverse range of quarterbacks, from Jared Goff to Geno Smith.
At the heart of this decision lies the franchise-defining quarterback choice awaiting Ryan Poles and the Bears during this offseason. During his recent year-end press conference, Poles commended the growth of Justin Fields while acknowledging the rare opportunity presented by the team's possession of the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, courtesy of the Carolina Panthers. Eberflus and Poles have indicated that part of their evaluation process for potential offensive coordinators involved assessing how each candidate would design an offense tailored to quarterbacks with varying skill sets.
With this appointment, Waldron assumes the pivotal responsibility of further developing Justin Fields or kick-starting Caleb Williams' NFL journey.
Waldron's coaching journey has seen him serve under the guidance of luminaries such as Bill Belichick, Sean McVay, and Pete Carroll. He is widely regarded across the league as a "smart," "innovative," and "versatile" coach with the ability to adapt his offensive strategies to capitalize on the strengths of his personnel.
While the Bears promised a comprehensive search for their next offensive coordinator, they haven't made a decision that exclusively aligns with one quarterback option. They interviewed Greg Roman, known for his prowess in the run game, which seemed suited to Fields. They also met with Kliff Kingsbury, USC's senior offensive analyst, who coached Caleb Williams last season, but neither of them secured the role.
In selecting Waldron, the Bears have not unveiled their grand plan for the future. Waldron's offensive roots trace back to the Shanahan coaching tree, a system developed by the legendary head coach Mike Shanahan and adapted by Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Mike McDaniel, and others. However, Waldron's hiring doesn't hint at a specific direction for the Bears' offensive strategy moving forward.
While it's true that Fields operated within a similar system under Luke Getsy last season, it wasn't a pure Shanahan-style offense. Getsy's scheme incorporated elements from his college coaching experience, and it ultimately fell short of Eberflus' expectations when he was hired away from the Green Bay Packers. Thus, Fields' time in Getsy's offense didn't significantly influence the decision to bring in Waldron.
The same applies to Caleb Williams' current mentor, coach Rich Scangarello, whom he met at the QB Collective, an elite quarterback camp for high school prospects. Fields also had exposure to the QB Collective during his high school days, negating any advantage for Williams in that regard.
Ryan Poles has indicated that he may delay the quarterback decision until the last moment. He has already initiated conversations with Caleb Williams under the guise of interviewing Kliff Kingsbury, showing that scouting is an ongoing process.
Ultimately, the Bears' selection of Waldron was driven by the belief that he is the best candidate for the job. His hiring wasn't contingent on his compatibility with Fields or his ability to mentor Williams. Instead, it was based on his reputation as a coach who can excel regardless of the chosen path.
By choosing the Bears over other potential destinations, Waldron has taken on the central role in the team's quest to transform from an NFL narrative of struggle into a perennial contender, with a definitive answer at the quarterback position.
The Bears' decision to hire Waldron is not about fitting him to a quarterback but rather placing faith in his expertise to navigate any quarterback-related challenges that lie ahead.
JANUARY 23   |   104 ANSWERS
The Implications of Bears Bringing in Shane Waldron for Justin Fields and the Quarterback Decision

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