DC Eric Washington on returning to Chicago, Eberflus calling defensive plays

DC Eric Washington on returning to Chicago, Eberflus calling defensive plays

by - Correspondent -

On February 22, Eric Washington was officially introduced as the new defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. Washington’s hiring marked a four-month period where Chicago did not have a defensive coordinator.

He started his NFL coaching career with the Bears back in 2008 under Lovie Smith and is excited to return back to where it started.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be standing here today in this role, to be returning to Chicago, to be returning to the Chicago Bears, the place where I started my NFL coaching career 16 years ago,” Washington said.

He worked for Chicago for three seasons as the assistant defensive line coach the first two before being promoted to the defensive line coach in 2010. After that, he served as the Carolina Panthers defensive line coach from 2011 to 2017 before being promoted to defensive coordinator for two seasons. Then from 2020 to 2023, he was the defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills; in 2023, he also served as an assistant head coach.

Coming to Chicago, one thing he values is the familiarity of the Bears organization.

“It’s a system that I’m familiar with, structurally. There’s some things that are similar to what I’ve been a part of … From my role, you do everything you possibly can to make sure that we perfect our system and you bring the experiences that you’ve had, that I’ve had over 16 years in the NFL and even before that in college football, to add something, to inform, to maybe provide a different perspective, or some tools or resources,” Washington said. “But, that’s how I intend to approach it - just to come in and really be a part of what we’ve established, bring my perspective, my level of expertise, the things that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of in terms of winning situations, explosive defenses, and just kind of add that to the mix and really, collaborate with the exceptional staff that we have assembled here on defense.”

There is also familiarity for Washington with one of the leaders on defense - linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. During Washington’s tenure with the Bills, he spent three seasons with Edmunds, including Edmunds’ second Pro Bowl season. He has had the opportunity to step more into a leadership role with Chicago, as evidenced by his four interceptions this season. In fact, the Bears had three players with at least four interceptions last season, the only team to accomplish that feat. Further, they also had cornerback Jaylon Johnson who had three interceptions.

The turnover potential was one of the many things that Washington is excited about for this upcoming season.

“This defense was elite in several important categories that lead directly to winning football - making teams one-dimensional, stopping the run. We’ve got some really good players on the defensive line,” Washington said. “This team is in the top two or three in taking the football away and continuing to feed an explosive offense. When I looked at that in terms of those things being values, those were the things that really got me excited, along with the scheme and the structure of the defense.”

One odd thing from the outside is that Washington will be the defensive coordinator, but head coach Matt Eberflus is going to continue to call the defensive plays like he has since week two of last season.

Some thought that would be a deterrent to a potential prospect, but Washington values putting the needs of the team first, and right now, that means sticking with the momentum Chicago had at the end of the season.

“Matt Eberflus is an unbelievable play caller. He’s an outstanding play caller, and he saw the effect it had on our team last year, especially going down the stretch. We want to continue that. We don’t want to stymie that momentum,” Washington said. “We want to continue that, and my expectation, his expectation for me, is to contribute to that in the planning process and in real-time on game day.”

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