10 takes from Eric Washington's introduction as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator

Eric Washington was introduced as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator on Thursday.

"First of all, it's an honor and privilege 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.

Here are 10 takes from his introductory press conference.

1. His return to Chicago is meaningful to him

One of the first things that Washington talked about at the podium is how it’s "wonderful to be back." He spent three seasons in Chicago after jumping to the NFL from the college ranks in Northwestern. He departed in 2011 to coach the Carolina Panthers’ defensive line.

"Having an opportunity to come back, they welcomed me back with open arms," Washington said. "I'm looking forward to doing my part to help us attain our ultimate goal now: to win a championship."

2. Washington learned with the Bears from the bottom, all the way up

Washington joined the Bears originally in 2008. He was a lower-level assistant, but the impact that position had allowed him to understand the importance of forming a relationship at the professional level.

This included meeting the McCaskey family as the Bears defensive assistant quality control. Then, he was just coming into pro football.

"Even at that role, the McCaskey family got to know me," Washington said. "They allowed me to get to know them and to realize and to understand the legacy of the Chicago Bears."

3. Washington's relationship with Eberflus was built off of "Respect"

Washington and Eberflus' relationship prior to Washington's return to Chicago wasn't extensive. However, it was built out of respect.

Washington said he knew others who have worked with Eberflus, and has talked with Eberflus in the past about different aspects of defenses.

"A mutual respect," Washington said. "We've known each other for a number of years and we've got a lot of people in our background that we have kind of worked with and so I've known that for a long time. We've had conversations back and forth over the years. We've talked about different things that I believe in, different things that are part of his philosophy."


4. Washington has an understanding of Matt Eberflus’ defense

What will help from Day 1 is that Washington isn’t walking in blind to a new defense.

In fact, he even called it "our system."

He’s familiar with the Bears’ scheme, and that will help transition him well from his role as a defensive line coach and assistant head coach to the defense coordinator.

"It's a system that I'm familiar with structurally," Washington said. "There's some things that are similar to what I've been a part of. Matt's got some really cool ideas, and so you jump in and from my role, you do everything you possibly can to make sure that we perfect our system."

5. So, what is Washington’s role?

Matt Eberflus will call plays again in 2024. That’s normally the defensive coordinator’s job, however Eberflus will retain that position.

Where will Washington take charge, then? Everywhere else.

"I will do everything that the coordinator is doing without actually calling the defense," Washington said. "If he needs to hand that responsibility off to me temporarily or for a snap or two, be ready to follow up and to take that role on and make sure that we continue to move forward in the direction that we want to go in."

6. Washington’s experience as an assistant head coach will benefit him the most in this role

Washington will be focused on bringing the defense up to speed, improving the pass rush and preparing the defense for game days.

Even if Eberflus takes on gameday play calling, that still takes plenty off his plate as the head coach.

Washington is no stranger to leadership either, as he was the assistant head coach in Buffalo before joining the Bears. That leadership will serve him well as he’s tasked with making sure the team is ready to adjust during in-game situations.

"That's how I intend to approach it," Washington said. "Just to come in and really be a part of what we've established, bring my perspective, my level of expertise to 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."

7. Washington already likes the defensive players in place

There are a few moving pieces to the defense currently. Such as, will the Bears resign Jaylon Johnson or will the Bears add another pass rusher aside from Montez Sweat?

Whatever the case may eventually be, Washington likes what he sees in the Bears’ defense. He described the Bears’ defense as an explosive group of players.

"This defense was elite in several important categories that lead directly to winning football: making teams one dimensional, stopping the run," Washington said. "We've got some really good players on the defensive line. This team is the top two or three in taking the football away."


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8. Washington’s expertise will be put to use immediately

The Bears’ pass rush has struggled in the last two seasons. Luckily, Washington is an expert in that area.

Washington likes the size, speed, quickness and length present on the Bears’ defensive line currently. Coming from Buffalo, one of the best pass rushing teams in the NFL last season, he can 

"We are going to be a team that generates pressure with our front four," Washington said. "That happens to be an area, fortunately, that in an area that I've had tremendous success with. And we have the personnel to get that done."

9. Washington expects to call plays at some point in his career

The future of Washington’s career could go plenty of ways if he performs well as the Bears’ defensive coordinator. A head coaching job could be next, considering his experience.

In terms of play calling, he sees that role in his future at some point. If that role is with the Bears remains to be seen down the line.

"I'm pretty confident that I will do that again at some point," Washington said. "Right now, I'm really confident in what Matt is going to bring to the table in that respect, and I will support him as best as I can."


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10. His year as the Bears’ defensive line coach sticks out to him

Washington coached the Bears defensive line for one season in 2010. On Wednesday, that season still stuck out plenty.

He remembered names. He also remembered why the unit worked.

"Alex Brown was here, Tommy Harris, Julius Peppers, and congratulations to him," Washington said. "Anthony Adams, I mean, there was Israel Idonije, Matt Toeaina, they were a great combination of great blend of different skill sets, but with the same similar mindset."

That season was the last time the Bears advanced to the NFC Championship Game.