Chicago Bears hire Eric Washington as new defensive coordinator, team announces

ByCourtney Cronin ESPN logo
Sunday, January 28, 2024
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CHICAGO -- The Bears have hired Eric Washington as their defensive coordinator, the team announced Saturday.

Washington, 54, fills the vacancy that was created by Alan Williams' resignation ahead of Week 2 last season. Bears coach Matt Eberflus took over defensive playcalling duties and is expected to continue calling Chicago's defense in 2024.

"We are excited to announce that Eric Washington will be joining our team as the defensive coordinator," Eberflus said in a team statement. "He 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. I want to thank the other outstanding candidates that applied for this position."

RELATED | Alan Williams resigns as Bears' defensive coordinator

Washington has spent 20 seasons as an NFL coach, including the past four with the Buffalo Bills. He comes to Chicago after serving as the Bills' assistant head coach and defensive line coach during the 2023 season. Buffalo's defense allowed the fourth-fewest points (18.3 PPG) and generated the fourth-most sacks (54) in 2023.

"My family and I are beyond excited to be returning to the Chicago Bears," Washington said in the statement. "It is humbling to have the opportunity to contribute to one of the most esteemed sports organizations in the world!"

Washington is the third addition to the Bears' coaching staff this week after Chicago hired offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph.

During his season-ending news conference Jan. 10, Eberflus said his ideal defensive coordinator candidate is someone who "can be in front of the room when I'm not in there, when I'm with the offense or preparing for something else and working in other areas of the building."

"You're looking for an all-star staff on both sides," Eberflus said. "Dynamic, guys that can take from the classroom to the drill work and then really put that on the field. In that position, it's going to be tying that together. Of course and working with me to do that as well."

This will be Washington's second stint with the Bears. He previously worked under Lovie Smith as a defensive assistant from 2008 to 2009 and coached Chicago's defensive line in 2010. He then spent the next nine seasons working in Carolina under Ron Rivera, the Bears' former defensive coordinator.

Washington will oversee a defense that ranked No. 1 against the run (86.4 YPG) and was tied for the league lead with 22 interceptions in 2023. Despite a significant defensive turnaround after the acquisition of edge rusher Montez Sweat at the trade deadline, the Bears will continue to focus on improving their pass rush this season after finishing tied for the sixth-lowest pressure percentage as a team (18.8%) and the second-fewest sacks (30).