A day after meeting with Eric Washington for an in-person interview, the Bears have added the coach to their staff. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Bears have hired Washington as their new defensive coordinator.
This is a bit of a homecoming for Washington, as the coach had a three-year stint with the Bears coaching staff earlier in his career. That job in Chicago was followed by a long stint with the Panthers that culminated in him being named defensive coordinator in 2018. The Panthers struggled during Washington’s two seasons at the helm, including a 2019 campaign where Carolina finished 31st in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed.
He later reunited with former Panthers DC Sean McDermott in Buffalo, becoming the Bills defensive line coach. He earned a promotion to senior defensive assistant in 2022 and assistant head coach in 2023. The Bills ranked fourth in the league in sacks this past year with 54, and the team has consistently had a strong pass rush under Washington.
Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned back in September, citing health and family concerns. Matt Eberflus took over defensive play-calling duties, and per Pelissero, the head coach is expected to retain that responsibility for the 2024 campaign. The Bears defense allowed a league-low 1,468 rushing yards last season, and they finished tied for the league-lead with 22 interceptions. However, the Bears also allowed 31 passing touchdowns, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL.
Washington was one of four known candidates for the Chicago job. The Bears also showed interest in former Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry, Titans secondary coach Chris Harris, and Titans assistant head coach/defensive line coach Terrell Williams.
As for Buffalo, Ryan O’Halloran of The Buffalo News opines that Washington’s departure makes it clear that McDermott isn’t going to hire a defensive coordinator. Otherwise, the role likely would have been reserved for Washington.