Source: Bears hiring ex-Seahawks OC Shane Waldron to run offense

ByCourtney Cronin ESPN logo
Monday, January 22, 2024

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears are finalizing a deal to make Shane Waldron their next offensive coordinator, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Waldron, 44, was the first of nine reported candidates the Bears requested to interview after firing former offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and four members of the offensive staff Jan. 10. He comes to Chicago after spending the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks.

Waldron began his NFL coaching career as an offensive quality control coach with New England in 2008 and later was the Patriots' tight ends coach. After stops in the United Football League and at UMass, Waldron returned to the NFL in 2016 with Washington before spending four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, where he coached tight ends (2017), quarterbacks (2019) and served as the passing game coordinator.

Including Waldron, Chicago interviewed four offensive coordinator candidates who have coached under Sean McVay. The other candidates from the McVay coaching tree included Liam Coen, Thomas Brown and Zac Robinson.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Sunday that the Bears had also requested to interview Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who was blocked by Los Angeles after interviewing for the vacant head-coach opening last week.

Waldron brings three seasons of playcalling experience to Chicago. He became Seattle's offensive coordinator during Russell Wilson's final season with the Seahawks in 2021 and coached Geno Smith to a career-best season the following season, when the quarterback ranked first in completion percentage (69.8), fourth in touchdowns (30), fifth in passer rating (100.9), seventh in QBR (62.8) and eighth in passing yards (4,282).

Seattle's offense ranked 17th in points per game (21.4) and 21st in yards per game (322.9) in 2023. The Bears were 18th (21.2) and 20th (232.2) in those categories, respectively.

Chicago's offensive imbalance between owning the league's No. 2 rushing offense while ranking 27th in passing was the catalyst behind the Bears moving on from Getsy after two seasons.

"Obviously you want to have somebody that's a great teacher," Bears coach Matt Eberflus said when asked what the team is looking for in its next offensive coordinator. "I think that's important because you know he has to coach the coaches to coach the position. And I think that's the No. 1 trait of any great coach. You have to be able to have the innovation to really look at the players that you have and be able to help enhance and put those guys in position to succeed and to get explosives and to move the ball down the field. So that right there, I think, is the most important thing, the teacher part of it and then the innovation part of it, and the creativity I think is going to be the biggest part."

Waldron will arrive in Chicago during a pivotal offseason centered around the organization's decision at quarterback. Over the next three months, the team will need to decide whether to use the first overall pick on USC's Caleb Williams or another rookie or move forward with quarterback Justin Fields entering his fourth season.

During his season-ending news conference on Jan. 10, general manager Ryan Poles said he did not feel the team needed complete clarity on which direction it will go at quarterback when interviewing offensive coordinator candidates.

"No, I love it because you have to, what are you going to do for these four different types of quarterbacks?" Poles said. "I want to hear that, and it's really important to see the versatility and the adaptability in their teaching and the way they implement a plan, scheme, adjust. I think it actually makes it pretty dynamic in terms of the interview process."

The news of Waldron's hiring was first reported by the NFL Network.

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