On Saturday, they named a defensive coordinator in Eric Washington. The former Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and defensive line coach previously coached with the Bears from 2008-10 under Lovie Smith and served as the defensive line coach in 2010 with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, a Matt Eberflus mentor.
“He is a great communicator with elite leadership skills and he will enhance our current defensive staff,” Eberflus said of Washington in a statement Saturday. “His track record speaks for itself with coordinator experience as well as expertise in the area of defensive line.”
Eberflus said this month that he was still determining whether he would continue to call plays, as he did for most of the 2023 season after Alan Williams left. But he also said the Bears were “going to keep everything open right now” as they considered candidates.
Here’s how the defensive coordinator hiring process unfolded.
The rundown: Two days after the Packers fired Barry, he was set to talk with the Bears about their open coordinator position and also was going to interview with the Philadelphia Eagles, The Athletic reported. Barry was the Packers defensive coordinator for three seasons. In 2023, the Packers ranked 17th with 335.1 yards allowed per game and 10th with 20.6 points allowed per game.
Barry also was a defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions (2007-08) and Washington (2015-16).
He has more than two decades worth of coaching experience and also coached linebackers with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the San Diego Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams. He was the Rams assistant head coach and linebackers coach from 2017-2020.
After firing Barry, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said in a statement, “These decisions are extremely difficult and Joe is one of the best men I’ve had the opportunity to work with in this league.”
The Bears requested an interview with Buffalo Bills assistant head coach/defensive line coach Eric Washington, CBS Sports reported.
The rundown: Washington has coached the Bills defensive line since 2020, getting promoted to senior defensive assistant in 2022 and assistant head coach in 2023. Before that, he spent nine years with the Carolina Panthers, first as defensive line coach and then as defensive coordinator in 2018-19. He coached three seasons with the Bears, as the defensive line coach in 2010 and a defensive assistant before that. Washington, who played tight end at Grambling State, also coached defensive line in college at Northwestern and Ohio.
The rundown: Williams has coached for 26 years, including 12 in the NFL. He coached with the Titans for six seasons, adding the assistant head coach title in 2023. Before that, he coached the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders defensive lines for three seasons each. He also coached defensive line at six colleges, including Purdue and Texas A&M. Williams was named the head coach of the American team for this year’s Senior Bowl.
Titans defensive pass game coordinator Chris Harris will interview with the Bears, NFL Network reported.
The rundown: Harris, a former NFL safety whom the Bears drafted in the sixth round in 2005, has 10 years of coaching experience. With the Titans in 2023, he served as the defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach. Before that, he coached defensive backs for the Washington Commanders for three seasons, helping them to top-10 defenses in 2020 and 2022. He was the Los Angeles Chargers assistant defensive backs coach for four seasons after starting his coaching career as a Bears defensive quality control coach in 2013-14.
As a player, Harris made 88 starts over eight NFL seasons, including two stints with the Bears in 2005-06 and 2010-11. He played under coach Lovie Smith and started for the 2006 Bears team that went to the Super Bowl.