The Chicago Bears are planning to interview Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington to be their defensive coordinator. What would be the reasons to hire Washington, and why should the Bears be cautious as well?
Chicago Bears plan to interview Eric Washington for defensive coordinator job
Eric Washington has been coaching since 1997, starting as an assistant with Texas A&M. Washington moved to Ohio and then Northwestern before he was spotted by the Chicago Bears in 2008.
After being an assistant for two years, Washington moved up to defensive line coach in 2010, before Ron Rivera stole him when he moved to the Carolina Panthers as the head coach in 2011. Washington spent almost the entirety of his career with the Panthers from there. He was there from 2011 through 2017 as a defensive line coach, and in 2018 and 2019, he was the defensive coordinator.
In 2020, when Rivera moved on, he found a job with the Buffalo Bills. This makes sense, considering he worked under Sean McDermott with the Panthers from 2011 through the 2016 season. Washington was the defensive line coach for two years and then moved to senior defensive assistant as well as DL coach in 2022. Last year, Washington was the assistant head coach and defensive line coach.
Pros to Chicago Bears hiring Eric Washington as defensive coordinator
This is another defensive coordinator with assistant head coach experience. This is huge for Matt Eberflus, who is arguably a better play-caller than a head coach at this point. Adding someone with that type of experience next to a defensive coach like Eberflus or McDermott is valuable. The Bills do it.
Beyond that, of the three candidates we know of right now, Washington is the only one with real defensive coordinator experience. He rebuilt the Panthers' defensive line and made that unit a strength with names like Mario Addison, Kawaan Short, and Charles Johnson. The Bears line is their weakest unit, so the fit makes plenty of sense. Of course, having former ties to the Chicago Bears does not hurt, either.
Cons to Chicago Bears hiring Eric Washington as defensive coordinator
When the Carolina Panthers lost Sean McDermott and eventually moved to Washington, that is when the defense fell apart, and Rivera eventually lost his job. He is a good defensive line coach but has not proven he can handle the DC role.
The Buffalo Bills invested high draft picks into guys like AJ Epensa, Boogie Basham, and Greg Rosseau, and their line is still disappointing when they need them the most. He is a smart name to interview but would need to blow them away with the plan to get the job.