The Bears requested interviews yesterday with two names that have been brought up in defensive coordinator searches recently. They requested permission to interview Washington defensive backs coach Chris Harris for an unspecified position on the defensive staff, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS similarly reported that Chicago requested permission to interview Packers defensive pass game coordinator and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray for an “as-yet-undefined” role on the defensive staff.
Harris is a former All-Pro safety who began his NFL coaching career immediately after retiring as a player. He started off as a defensive quality control coach for the team that drafted him in Chicago. Harris was not retained after the firing of then-head coach Marc Trestman, and he joined the Chargers as the assistant defensive backs coach, moving with the team from San Diego to Los Angeles. When Ron Rivera was hired as head coach in Washington, Harris was granted a promotion to defensive backs coach, a position he’s held for the past three seasons with the Commanders.
The past couple of years have seen Harris participate in a few interviews for defensive coordinator positions. He was reportedly a finalist for the Packers coordinator job two years ago and interviewed with the Colts last year. Harris’s name came up today when Tennessee also requested to interview him. If he were to join the Titans, it’s presumed that he would come into the role of passing game coordinator, in addition to his usual position coaching gig.
Gray has actual coordinator experience from his time with the Bills and Titans. The 60-year-old coach was also requested to interview for the defensive coordinator position in Atlanta a week ago. After the Falcons’ former defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, announced his retirement, Gray’s name quickly came up as a replacement candidate. Gray’s defensive units have put up middling results over the years, but his experience calling plays makes him an attractive candidate to replace Pees, who has been doing so since 2012.
With defensive coordinator Alan Williams still in the position for the Bears, neither Harris nor Gray are likely being interviewed for his role. More likely, they are being considered for the role of passing game coordinator. Harris makes the most sense, considering his history with the franchise, but Gray has more experience in larger roles. The Bears should get to talk with both in the days to come.