The Chicago Bears hired Shane Waldron to become their next offensive coordinator. Here is what to expect from him and his system.
The Chicago Bears found their guy. They reportedly decided to hire Shane Waldron to fill their offensive coordinator vacancy. Waldron held the same position with the Seattle Seahawks for the past three seasons. With head coach Pete Carroll out in Seattle, Waldron became available.
Before going to Seattle, Waldron had stops with the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins, and New England Patriots. He is a coaching disciple of Rams head coach Sean McVay, something that might have been a priority for the Bears. Four of their interviews involved coaches who were McVay disciples.
So what are the Chicago Bears getting from Waldron as offensive coordinator? Let’s take a look.
Waldron already helped one quarterback
The biggest question for the Chicago Bears this offseason is what they’ll do with the quarterback position. They currently have Justin Fields. There are a lot of fans and people around the NFL who feel Fields has not done enough in his three seasons to show that he is the right guy to lead the offense.
Others, however, feel that Fields has not had the proper development from the coaches. One of the reasons General Manager Ryan Poles stated for Luke Getsy’s dismissal was his failure to adapt. It seemed that Getsy did not adjust his system and play-calling to Fields’ abilities. Rather, he tried to change Fields into a player he wasn’t.
Waldron is credited with turning Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith‘s career. He was a journeyman quarterback in eight seasons. He had 6,917 passing yards. Of those, 5,571 of them came in his first two seasons.
After the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson before the 2022 season, Smith became the starter. Under Waldron, he led the league in passing completion percentage (69.8 percent) and eighth in passing yards with 4,282. He was a different player. He was also named to the Pro Bowl.
Waldron also worked with Jared Goff with the Rams. Goff had two of his most productive seasons with Waldron.
Waldron also worked one season with Wilson. Wilson had his second-worst season. However, he has not been the same quarterback even after he played for the Denver Broncos.
Even if the Bears draft a quarterback, it is good to see that Waldron can work well with a quarterback and utilize and develop his skills.
Expect a higher use of tight ends
Under Waldron, the Seahawks had the fourth-highest usage of multiple tight end formations. This would be a new wrinkle for the Chicago Bears. They do not use many multiple tight end formations. Heck, with Getsy they did not use one tight end very much.
There were too many times when Cole Kmet had a big start to a game, only to be a forgotten player later. They had a pretty good receiving tight end in Robert Tonyan (despite a big drop in the game against the Cleveland Browns). Tonyan had only 17 targets the entire season.
Utilizing both Kmet and Tonyan would have given Fields more weapons to work with, especially in the red zone. Tonyan is a free agent so it will be interesting to see if the Bears re-sign him or find another tight end who has similar skills.
Will Waldron utilize more play-action?
With Wilson as quarterback, Seattle led the league in calling play-action. After Wilson left, however, they ranked 15th. With Fields, that number could go up. He could run a play action better than Smith. Additionally, the Chicago Bears have a better running game to utilize play action.
Opponents not only have to be wary of Fields handing the ball off for a big run, they also need to worry about him either throwing the ball downfield (he ranked eighth in the league in completion percentage on throws 20+ yards downfield) or running it himself. These are plays that Getsy failed to use. Waldron showed that with the proper quarterback, he could run that play.
Waldron will bring a more modern offense to the Chicago Bears
Waldron will bring a more modern offense to the Chicago Bears. Far too many times, we saw him call a run on first down, likely again on second down, and then facing a third and long. Also, there was not much pre-snap movement.
Waldron will be the opposite. He throws the ball more on first down. Additionally, he has a lot of pre-snap movement. Furthermore, he draws up plays to set up receivers to have yards after the catch. With Getsy, the Bears receivers had too many contested catches and they had to be acrobats to break free and get additional yards.
The Chicago Bears have never been known for using a modern offense. They have stuck with the “three yards and a cloud of dust” and occasionally added a pass play into the mix. That should change with Waldron. He will use more passes, scheme players open, and have pre-snap movement.
Having a better passing game will improve Chicago’s running game. As it is now, opponents could key in on the run and stack the line of scrimmage. If the Bears are more effective in throwing the ball, teams cannot crowd the box, thus giving more room for the running game to make an impact.
We now just have to see which quarterback Waldron will work with. Will he get the opportunity to turn Fields’ fortune, or will the Chicago Bears give him a rookie quarterback he could mold?
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