The Chicago Bears found their guy to fill the last coordinator vacancy -- defensive coordinator. They hired former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Eric Washington to do the same in Chicago.
Washington not only has experience around the league but also experience with the Bears. He worked under Lovie Smith from 2008 to 2010, coaching the defensive line. The Bears went to the NFC Championship in the 2010 season. He then went to work with another former Bear, Ron Rivera, with the Carolina Panthers.
In the last two seasons at Carolina, he was their defensive coordinator. In the 2015 season, the Panthers reached the Super Bowl. Sean McDermott also worked with Rivera and Washington in Carolina. When he left for Buffalo, he brought Washington with him.
The Chicago Bears hire a familiar face both with the team and the city to fill their defensive coordinator vacancy.
In addition to working for the Bears, Washington also worked for the Northwestern Wildcats, so he has plenty of experience in the Chicagoland area. He released a statement saying how excited he was to return to Chicago and the Bears.
"My family and I are beyond excited to be returning to the Chicago Bears. It is humbling to have the opportunity to contribute to one of the most esteemed sports organizations in the world! I thank God and I appreciate Coach Eberflus, the Bears front office, and the McCaskey family for entrusting me with this responsibility."- Eric Washington
There are high hopes for the defense. While the final numbers might not show that the unit was elite, breaking it down shows it worked well for most of the season. After the first four weeks, the defense allowed 34.2 points per game. That average plummeted to 18.6 points per game.
Additionally, the defense ranked first overall in the NFL against the rush. That was a huge jump from 31st in 2022. The improvement was especially impressive considering the drama that surrounded it early on. Former defensive coordinator Alan Williams had to resign over HR issues.
Head coach Matt Eberflus had to take over the defense and the play-calling. While he did a good job doing it, he said it was difficult balancing his duties as a head coach and taking care of the defense. Eberflus is still expected to call the plays for the defense, however.
Eberflus was effusive in his praise for Washington.
"(Washington) is a great communicator with elite leadership skills and he will enhance our current defensive staff. His track record speaks for itself with coordinator experience as well as expertise in the area of defensive line."- Matt Eberflus
It appeared that the front office wanted to have a familiar face coach the defense. Earlier, they interviewed former Chicago Bears player Chris Harris. Now they hire Washington. Additionally, general manager Ryan Poles has signed a number of players who are from the Chicagoland area. He is trying to change the culture of losing at Halas Hall and bringing in players who cheered for the team as youngsters and having a coach who was there for the winning certainly help.