The Chicago Bears have reportedly hired Shane Waldron to be their new offensive coordinator, according to multiple reports on Monday. Waldron comes to the Bears after serving the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks under Pete Carroll.
The Bears finished last in the NFL in total offense in 2022, averaging just 286.4 yards per game. They struggled in particular with passing the ball effectively, averaging a league-worst 156.2 passing yards per contest. The hire of Waldron signals a shift towards fixing the Bears’ broken offense and building around young quarterback Justin Fields.
Shane Waldron’s Background
Waldron, 44, brings over 15 years of NFL coaching experience to Chicago. He has spent time with the New England Patriots, Washington Commanders, and Los Angeles Rams before landing in Seattle.
As a member of Sean McVay’s staff with the Rams from 2017-2020, Waldron worked his way up to pass game coordinator in 2020 and helped guide the Rams offense to back-to-back top 10 finishes.
Key Stats for Rams Offense with Waldron (2018-2020):
Waldron then took over play-calling duties in Seattle in 2021. While the Seahawks struggled to a 7-10 record, Waldron guided the offense to top 10 ranks in rushing and red zone efficiency in his first year as an NFL offensive coordinator:
Key Stats for Seahawks Offense with Waldron in 2022:
- 368.2 total yards per game (9th in NFL)
- 195.3 passing yards/game (27th)
- 172.9 rushing yards/game (5th)
- 61.7% red zone TD rate (9th)
The Seahawks took a step back across the board on offense this past season after trading Russell Wilson, but Waldron did help Geno Smith put up a career year with 4,282 passing yards and 30 touchdowns.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles is hoping Waldron can work similar magic with Justin Fields and the unproven weapons in Chicago.
What Waldron Brings to the Bears
At his introductory press conference, new Bears head coach Matt Eberflus emphasized the need for an innovative play-caller to build around Fields.
“We need great teachers that can create good practices to develop young players while being creative to score points. We will take risks and be aggressive.”
Waldron fits that vision perfectly. He comes from the creative Sean McVay coaching tree and has a reputation for modern schemes utilizing lots of motion and play-action. That should mesh well with Fields’ mobility and arm talent.
Another element that likely appealed to the Bears is Waldron’s experience developing quarterbacks like Jared Goff and Russell Wilson. In Chicago, the top priority is progress for Fields in Year 3. Waldron’s work improving Geno Smith this past season surely caught the Bears’ attention.
Former NFL wide receiver Dez Bryant issued a warning for Bears pass catchers that Waldron’s offense will require precision and attention to detail. But if implemented properly, Waldron’s scheme has explosive potential in Chicago.
What Happens Now for the Bears’ Offense
The first order of business is hiring the rest of the offensive staff. Waldron will likely bring over some familiar faces from Seattle or his Rams days. But reports say well-regarded Bears passing game coordinator Tyke Tolbert could be retained to aid continuity.
Next the Bears must upgrade Fields’ weapons this offseason. Adding at least one starting-caliber wide receiver is a must in either free agency or the draft. Offensive line also remains a glaring need.
OTA practices will be key for Waldron to install his offense. There will likely be growing pains getting all the new terminology and concepts integrated. Quickly getting Fields comfortable needs to be priority number one.
If the staff coalesces well and Fields makes strides in his development, the Bears just might field a functional offense again in 2023. It certainly can’t get much worse than the league-worst unit of 2022. But with Waldron guiding the way, brighter days could be ahead in Chicago.
The Bears are confident Shane Waldron is the creative offensive mind that can fix this unit and tap into Justin Fields’ potential. It will be a collaborative effort getting things turned around, but the pieces are now in place for Chicago to build an explosive modern offense centered around their young quarterback.
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