Former NFL WR Ike Hilliard to interview for Bears WR coach job
Photo courtesy: Washington Commanders

Former NFL WR Ike Hilliard to interview for Bears WR coach job

by - Senior Writer -

One of my favorite things about the coaching ranks in today's NFL game is how much they have changed over time. What once was a league built on the experience and Xs and Os has now changed as teams are getting younger and more innovative with their coaching hirings. A big reason for that has been the way the game has changed in recent seasons, and you must be willing to adapt to the changes to avoid being left behind.

Another way the coaching hiring in today's game has changed is you are starting to see more and more former players get into coaching at a younger age to bring their knowledge of the game to these young players. Longtime NFL WR Ike Hilliard has followed that trend and is expected to come to Chicago to interview for the Bears vacant WR coach opening.

The former New York Giants WR may seem like a surprise to hear interviewing for this position, but there are many connections as to why. The most significant connection is that he has worked with Shane Waldron in the past, so the two of them have some history together. It must be an excellent history to otherwise there is no reason why Waldron would've elected to bring him in to interview.

Hilliard's NFL background goes well beyond the coaching ranks as he was the Giants' first-round pick in 1997 and spent eight of his 12 years in New York before going to Tampa Bay to finish his career. Not viewed as one of the game's best, Hilliard was still a very reliable option as he collected 546 receptions for 6397 yards and 35 TDs during his career. His best season came in 1999 when he had a career-high in catches with 72 and a career-high 996 yards. However, he only had three TDs that season, but followed that up with a career-high eight scores one year later.

Unlike most players who take some time off following their playing days, Hilliard wasted no time getting involved with coaching as he entered the coaching ranks the next season in 2009.

It was in 2011 when he cemented himself in the NFL as a coach, spending the 2011 season with the Miami Dolphins as their WR Coach. One year later, he was off to Buffalo to spend one season as their WR coach before joining Washington in 2014 for the same position.

This is where his career as a coach took off. He was there for a long time and spent six seasons as the team's WR coach, working with players like Santana Moss and Terry McLaurin. Both of them have had great seasons with Washington, and you have to wonder if Hilliard was able to tap into their potential to get them playing at that level.

Following his run with Washington, Hilliard was on the Mike Tomlin staff in Pittsburgh for two seasons before latching on with the Auburn Tigers in 2022.

His year in college gave him the biggest break as a coach as he not only held the WR coach position but took over as the interim offensive coordinator later that season, so he does have some play-calling experience under his belt.

Any time you see former players get an interview to be a coach in some aspect, it has to make you smile, as their hard work as players is paying off in more ways than one. It also makes you wonder about the connection side of things, what Waldron and him have done together, and what they could do if given the chance to coach together again.

Hilliard wasn't a name that anyone expected to hear when interviewing for the Bears WR position, but it is fun to think about now that he has had his name thrown in there. Playing 12 years in the NFL is no joke, and most players can only dream of doing that even if they weren't standout seasons apart from his first few. In his 106 games, he has seen the league go from a run-first league where it was when he began his career to evolving into the pass-first game we have today.

His knowledge about the WR position and how to play will also come in handy as the Bears have a very young WR room still learning to come into their own as a group. This could be one of the more under-the-radar hires should the Bears go ahead and make it, as he would fit in nicely with this group.

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