The Chicago Bears have reportedly hired Shane Waldron to be their new offensive coordinator, according to multiple reports on Sunday. Waldron comes to the Bears after spending the last two seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks under Pete Carroll.
Waldron Brings Zone Run Scheme Expertise
The 42-year-old Waldron has spent the majority of his NFL coaching career working under Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams. He was the passing game coordinator in Los Angeles before getting his first OC job in Seattle.
Waldron runs a zone run scheme that should fit well with what head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles want to build in Chicago. The Bears struggled mightily on offense this past season under Luke Getsy, finishing 32nd in yards per game and 31st in points scored.
In Seattle, Waldron built his offense around the zone running game to take pressure off veteran quarterback Geno Smith. The Seahawks finished 10th in rushing yards in 2022. Establishing the run early opens up the play-action pass game, another staple of Waldron’s system.
Implications for Justin Fields and Bears’ QB Situation
The hiring of Waldron signals that the Bears intend to build around second-year quarterback Justin Fields rather than replace him. Fields showed flashes of his elite athleticism and playmaking talent last season but dealt with an injury and coaching changes.
With Waldron guiding the offense and a commitment to improving the offensive line and weapons around Fields, the former Ohio State star should have a real chance to make a Year 2 leap like many other young quarterbacks have recently.
There was speculation that the Bears could use the #1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on a quarterback like Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. However, bringing in an outside zone run scheme disciple like Waldron shows Fields still has a future in Chicago.
The Bears want to emulate what the Seahawks and 49ers have done recently – build a dominant rushing attack and use a mobile QB’s legs and arm talent within that system.
|Shane Waldron Coaching History
|2016-2020: Los Angeles Rams (Various Roles)
|2021-2022: Seattle Seahawks OC
|2023-Present: Chicago Bears OC
How the Hire Came Together
Despite the Bears casting a wide net early in their OC search, Waldron quickly emerged as the frontrunner. Chicago put in requests to interview Brady, Olsen, Coen and others last week but zeroed in on Waldron after his interview.
According to Albert Breer, Waldron made it clear to Poles and Eberflus that Fields would be the “centerpiece” of his planned offensive attack. The zone run game sets up Fields’ mobility and RPO ability perfectly.
Rumors began heating up Saturday night that the Bears and Waldron were close to a deal. By Sunday morning it was being widely reported by national NFL insiders that the hire was done.
Waldron was Matt Nagy’s quarterbacks coach with the Chiefs early in his career. Bears fans will hope that Waldron’s stint as OC goes significantly better than Nagy’s in Chicago.
What Happens Next
Now that the Bears have their new offensive coordinator locked up, focus will turn to the player personnel side of the rebuild. Poles and the front office will be meeting this week at the Senior Bowl looking at draft prospects.
The free agent market also opens up in March. Look for the Bears to aggressively target offensive line help, likely focusing on interior positions like guard and center. Improving the protection up front is crucial before Fields or any quarterback can excel.
There were rumors that Poles could also explore trading for Raiders QB Derek Carr if the price was right. That seems very unlikely now – Waldron was hired specifically to maximize Fields’ strengths. The Bears appear all-in on the Fields era in Chicago.
While the rebuilding project remains massive, bringing in an innovative young offensive mind like Waldron is an excellent first step toward modernizing the Bears’ offense. The old-school I-formation days are over – it’s time for Fields and Waldron to usher in an exciting new era featuring RPOs, misdirection and a lethal zone run game.
How Far Can Waldron Take the Offense in 2023?
Bears fans will need to practice patience next season. While the ceiling is high for a Fields/Waldron marriage, turning around the NFL’s worst offense is no small task.
Getting impact starters on the O-line and adding more speed at receiver has to come first. There are still likely to be plenty of bumps in the road next season. However, the hope is there for much bigger things on the horizon.
As the Seahawks showed this season, going from worst to first on offense in just one year is possible when you build smartly around the run game and allow a talented young quarterback to grow.
Fields developing into a true franchise QB under Waldron’s guidance would completely change the Bears’ outlook and timeline. There is good reason to believe this is one innovative pairing that Chicago fans can get excited about.
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