The offseason giveth and the offseason taketh away as the Bears learned this past week with the addition and subtraction of two coaching assistants earlier in the week.
After the departure of assistant offensive line coach Austin King to join Sean Payton‘s new staff in Denver under the same title, Chicago hired longtime Titans assistant Luke Steckel to fill the role. This will be Steckel’s first time working specifically with offensive linemen in the NFL. After four years in Cleveland as an assistant to the head coach, Steckel joined the Titans in 2013 as an offensive assistant/special assistant to the head coach. He cycled through other roles with the team over the years including assistant wide receivers coach and his most recent role of the past two seasons as tight ends coach.
Steckel is credited with having contributed to the success of wide receiver A.J. Brown during his rookie season in Tennessee and quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the year that he won Comeback Player of the Year. As a tight ends coach, Steckel worked with newcomer Austin Hooper and rookie Chigoziem Okonkwo. Both finished with similar statistics, combining for 894 yards and five touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Hooper had the 12th-best receiving grade of any tight end in the NFL while Okonkwo finished third behind only Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Steckel will now be assisting with coaching an offensive line that utilizes strong youth pieces like Teven Jenkins and Braxton Jones.
Here are a few more coaching updates from around the NFC:
- The Falcons have made some updates to their staff from last year, according to Falcons features reporter Ashton Edmunds. Steve Jackson, who shockingly was hired in the position of senior offensive assistant last year despite his years of defensive coaching experience, has rightfully returned to the defensive side of the ball as the team’s secondary coach. Another assistant expected to switch sides of the ball, Nick Perry will move from assistant defensive backs coach to assistant wide receivers coach. Former defensive assistant Lanier Goethie has been promoted to defensive front specialist. The team has also added longtime college coaching assistant Dave Huxatable into his first NFL role of senior defensive assistant. Additionally, former John Carroll offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Baker has been added to the staff as special teams assistant. Lastly, the team has hired Steven King and Patrick Kramer as offensive assistants, Mario Jeberaeel as the special projects: defense coach, Shawn Flaherty as the assistant offensive line coach, Michael Gray as a football analyst, and Mateo Kambui as the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellow assigned to work with the offensive line.
- With Drew Terrell‘s departure to Arizona as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, the Commanders have a vacancy to fill at wide receivers coach. According to Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, one candidate who has been interviewed for the role is former NFL wide receiver Bobby Engram. After his retirement as a player, the longtime Seahawk immediately went into coaching, signing with the rival 49ers as an offensive assistant. Since then, Engram has worked his way up, going from coaching wide receivers in the college ranks at Pitt to earning the same position in Baltimore. With the Ravens, Engram earned his paycheck putting together veteran receiver groups for quarterback Joe Flacco. In healthy years, Engram coached up impressive duos such as Steve Smith–Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace-Steve Smith. When injuries decimated the team he helped Kamar Aiken to a breakout season, pieced together what he could out of a group that included Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and Chris Moore, and got a respectable output from a corps of John Brown, Willie Snead, and Michael Crabtree. Engram moved to tight ends coach for the Ravens in 2019 and helped in the emergence of star tight end Mark Andrews, who earned two Pro Bowl bids and a first-team All-Pro selection under Engram. Last year, Engram took the role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wisconsin, but an interview with the Commanders could indicate his willingness to return to the NFL.