Chris Harris scheduled to interview for Bears defensive coordinator
Tennessee Titans defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach Chris Harris started both his playing career and his coaching career in Chicago. As it turns out, he could be headed for a reunion with the Windy City.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that Chris Harris is scheduled to interview for the Bears defensive coordinator job this week. Matt Eberflus handled the defensive coordinator responsibilities for most of the 2023 season because Alan Williams resigned from his position a couple of weeks into the regular season.
A onetime Bears draft pick who became a highly respected player in Chicago, Harris also interviewed for the #Jaguars DC job this past week.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 21, 2024
Chris Harris was a 2005 sixth-round pick by the Bears and played 25 games for them over his first two seasons. He returned to play 19 games for them later in his career and then became a quality control coach in 2013. He moved on to stints with the Chargers and Commanders before being hired in Tennessee ahead of the 2023 season.
The state of the Bears defense
The Bears defense saw a major improvement in 2023. Going from one of the worst units in the NFL in 2022, to 12th ranked overall defense by the end of 2023. A significant factor in this improvement lies on Matt Eberflus. Eberflus’ defensive play calling was significantly better and more effective than the last coordinator. A January 10th press release from the Bears written by Gabby Hajduk says that Matt Eberflus would like to keep calling plays on defense, but he is open to the possibility of stepping aside.
As for the defense, Eberflus “feels really good” about that group of coaches on that side of the ball. While Eberflus called defensive plays for the Bears the majority of the season and said it’s something he loves to do there is no decision yet on who will be the play-caller in 2024. He told reporters “as we talk to these candidates, we’re going to keep everything open right now.”
And while Eberflus’ time in Indianapolis and his 2023 season in Chicago have proven he is a great defensive play caller, he has more responsibilities to attend to. Eberflus commented on why a new defensive coordinator is necessary to “enhance the staff.” He also commented on how a new DC can help him do his job better:
“It’s got to be a good fit,” Eberflus said. “But you’re looking for an all-star staff on both sides. Dynamic, guys that can take the classroom to the drill work and then put that on the field. That position is going to be tying that together, and of course working with me to do that. It’s important that we find the right person that has great character, [is a] great motivator, that can be in front of the room when I’m not in there when I’m with the offense or preparing for something else, working in other levels of the building.”
The stats on Chris Harris as an NFL coach
Chris Harris has logged 10 seasons worth of NFL coaching experience. This includes experience as a defensive quality control coach, defensive backs coach, and most recently, defensive pass game coordinator.
From 2020 to 2022, Harris was the Washington defensive backs coach. During that time, Washington ranked eighth in the NFL in passing defense (213.1 yards allowed per game) and fourth in total defense (323.4 yards per game).
The Commanders ended the 2022 season in the top 10 in a number of categories, including total defense (third), passing yards allowed (fourth), points allowed (seventh), third-down defense (first) and red-zone defense (eighth).
In 2020, Harris contributed to a defense that allowed 3,068 net passing yards, the organization’s best finish since 2004. He helped cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Fuller become the first two Washington teammates to both record 11 or more passes defensed in a season since Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland both did so in 2016.
Harris’ coaching stats listed above provided via Tennessee Titans.
How Chris Harris fits with the Bears defense
As the stats show, Harris is a coach focused on defensive backs and passing defense. Harris was a safety in his NFL career and was a member of the Bears 2006 Superbowl team.
Chris Harris helped orchestrate the commanders top 3 passing defense in 2022. Harris was less successful in 2023 with the Titans. A caveat to this drop in defensive production from the Titans passing defense can be contributed to a significant amount of injuries.
Chris Harris has a great room of defensive backs at his disposal if the Bears choose to bring him to Chicago. He could help improve the Bears passing defense even more, which is necessary as every team in the NFC North has a franchise QB who can carve up defenses any given Sunday.
Harris could be a great hire for the Bears even if he doesn’t end up calling defensive plays. His experience can easily help him manage the defensive workload and allow Matt Eberflus to allocate his time to other parts of the team.
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