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CHICAGO BEARS

Eric Washington maintains ambitious aspirations for the Bears’ defense.

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The Bears’ new defensive coordinator, Eric Washington, won’t immediately handle defensive play-calling duties. Despite this, he is committed to addressing the team’s key defensive need from the previous season. Washington aims to build a formidable pass rush using the front four, leveraging the size, speed, quickness, and length of players like Montez Sweat. While Sweat is an impressive asset, Washington recognizes the need for a more diverse pass rush to compete effectively.

The Bears had a top-tier run defense and led in interceptions but struggled in sacks during the last season, managing only 30. Washington, drawing from his successful coaching experience, is determined to enhance the team’s pass-rushing capabilities rapidly. In his previous role with the Bills in 2023, they ranked fourth in sacks, and during his tenure with the Carolina Panthers, they consistently ranked in the top 10, including being first in 2013, second in 2016, and third in 2017.

Washington’s coaching career began in a similar defensive scheme as a low-level assistant with the Bears under Lovie Smith. Reflecting on that time, he praised the aggressive and talented defensive linemen like Alex Brown, Tommie Harris, and Julius Peppers. Washington emphasized a personnel-driven approach focused on fundamentals rather than relying heavily on schemes.

While Washington aspires to call plays again in the future, his primary focus for 2024 is not on play-calling duties. He will take on responsibilities akin to those of Alan Williams before his resignation last season, assisting with game day activities without calling the defense. Washington’s role will involve contributing to the planning process, offering input during games, and collaborating closely with head coach Matt Eberflus to ensure the defense continues its positive momentum from the previous season. The goal is to maintain a collaborative effort in constructing and implementing the defensive strategy on a week-to-week basis.


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