CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears hired Shane Waldron as their offensive coordinator on Tuesday, hoping he can get the most out of Justin Fields or a new quarterback if they draft one with the No. 1 overall pick.
Waldron joins coach Matt Eberflus’ staff after spending the past three seasons as offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll in Seattle. He replaces Luke Getsy, who was fired after two years.
“This was a very exhaustive search, but in the end I’m grateful the journey led us to Shane,” Eberflus said in a statement. “He is a great teacher and communicator with a diverse coaching background among some of the game’s most elite head coaches. I look forward to partnering with him as we build out the rest of the staff and get him started here.”
With the Seahawks, Waldron called plays for an offense led by Russell Wilson in 2021. He then helped quarterback Geno Smith go from a journeyman to AP Comeback Player of the Year in 2022 after passing for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns.
The Seahawks ranked 21st in total offense, 14th in passing and 17th in scoring this season. They also struggled on third downs.
Before moving to Seattle, Waldron spent four years as an assistant with the Los Angeles Rams, the last three as passing game coordinator with Jared Goff as the QB. The Seahawks’ coaches were looking for new jobs after Carroll moved to an advisory role two weeks ago, ending a 14-year run that included a Super Bowl championship — a change that seemed somewhat forced by Seahawks ownership.
“I appreciate this opportunity given to me by Coach Eberflus and (general manager) Ryan Poles,” Waldron said in a statement. “We can’t wait to get to work at a franchise with such a storied history and passionate fan base.”
Chicago went 7-10 with an improved defense leading the way after finishing with a league-worst 3-14 record in 2022. But the Bears have some major questions, starting with whether to keep Fields or draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with the No. 1 pick.
Eberflus’ long-term security also is no sure thing, given his 10-24 record through two seasons. Only John Fox (14-34 from 2015-17) and Abe Gibron (11-30-1 from 1972-74) have a worse winning percentage among Bears coaches.
Though Chicago finished second in rushing after leading the league in 2022, it ranked near the bottom in passing each of the past two seasons.
Fields’ three seasons have been marked by big plays with his arm and legs but little consistency as a passer. He never really meshed with Getsy and even went public with his frustration in Week 3 when he said he was being fed too much information, comments he tried to soften later that day.
Fields showed some improvement in the pocket this season and threw for a career-high 2,562 yards in 13 games. But he was 22nd in the NFL with an 86.3 passer rating. He has thrown for 200 yards or more just 13 times in 40 games and has just one 300-yard passing game in his career.
The Bears could decide to stick with Fields and trade the No. 1 pick, as they did last year in a massive deal with Carolina. They got top receiver DJ Moore in return as well as the Panthers’ first-round selection this year. And with Carolina finishing with a league-worst 2-15 record, Chicago is again at the top of the draft.
The chance to select a potential franchise-changing quarterback like Williams or Maye might be too tempting to pass up this time. There are also salary-cap implications to consider, since a new quarterback would be on a club-friendly rookie contract. The Bears have to decide whether to pick up Fields’ fifth-year option for 2025.
Chicago also is looking for a defensive coordinator. Eberflus took over play-calling duties after Alan Williams resigned in September.