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Bears hire Eric Washington as their new defensive coordinator

The Bears have found their new defensive coordinator.

Chicago hired former Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington to lead its defense, the team announced Saturday.

NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero had reported the hiring earlier in the day.

Head coach Matt Eberflus will continue calling plays, Pelissero added. Washington returns to the Windy City after serving as a defensive assistant from 2008-2009 and defensive line coach in 2010.

"We are excited to announce that Eric Washington will be joining our team as the defensive coordinator," Eberflus said in a team statement. "He is a great communicator with elite leadership skills and he will enhance our current defensive staff. His track record speaks for itself with coordinator experience as well as expertise in the area of defensive line. I want to thank the other outstanding candidates that applied for this position."

Washington joined the Bills in 2020 as the defensive line coach. Washington became a senior defensive assistant in 2022 before adding assistant head coach to his DL coaching responsibilities the following year. Buffalo's 2022 defense finished second in the NFL with 286 points allowed. This season, the Bills totaled 54 sacks and allowed 307.2 total yards per game, good for ninth in the league.

The 54-year-old also previously spent time in Carolina as the defensive line coach from 2011-2017 and was promoted to defensive coordinator from 2018-2019.

"My family and I are beyond excited to be returning to the Chicago Bears," Washington said in a team statement. "It is humbling to have the opportunity to contribute to one of the most esteemed sports organizations in the world! I thank God and I appreciate Coach Eberflus, the Bears front office, and the McCaskey family for entrusting me with this responsibility."

The move to bring in Washington to lead a talented defense was needed. During the 2023 season, former defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned from the position, leading to Eberflus being the defensive play-caller for the rest of the campaign. The defense was inconsistent and blew leads late in games during the team's first two months of the season.

However, the Bears' defense turned around shortly after they traded for Montez Sweat, and the unit became a positive in the second half of Chicago's season. Washington will now work with a young, talented defensive core in Sweat, Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon.

With a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron and now Washington to command the defense, Chicago shifts its focus toward the future in the 2024 NFL Draft. General manager Ryan Poles and Eberflus will have to decide whether to use the No. 1 overall pick and select a QB or keep Justin Fields under center and build around him for the 2024 season.

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