How Bears coordinators Eric Washington and Shane Waldron are approaching the NFL Combine

It's safe to say Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron is a fan of football at any time.

He talked about watching college players show off their abilities on Saturdays, even sometimes on Sundays.

"Or maybe Tuesday night" Waldron said. "Some MAC-ction."

Waldron is aware great football players come from anywhere and everywhere. That's why the NFL Combine will be a significant spot for him next week.

He'll get to meet the person behind the player. It's part of how Waldron is approaching the upcoming NFL Combine. First-year defensive coordinator has a similar plan, too.

"Everyone's got a story," Waldron said Thursday. "Cool thing about football is everyone has such a unique and different background and what led them. What's their why? How did they get to this point?"

Waldron wants to explore the story behind what motivates the player. Washington sees the combine as a way to start informing his process. 

Washington, a former college defensive line coach who's in his second stint in Chicago, uses the combine as a way to inform his evaluation process.

"It informs the process," Washington said. "It's just one aspect of it. But yes, it's valuable in terms of getting to know the player and getting more and more information about their background."

Both coordinators, along with their bosses in Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles, will have a chance to meet different prospects in the course of the week.

The chance to meet players is the key. The organization already has their respective resumes.

"The tape is obviously their resume in terms of the player, but then what is the person like," Waldron said. "How is that person going to be able to adjust and adapt to the next level here?"


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Adjusting and adapting are the keywords Eberflus, Washington and Waldron mentioned. Waldron and Washington spoke on both Thursday.

Eberflus said in January he was looking for coordinators that prioritized those two traits. He has those coordinators. 

Those coordinators are going to look for those same traits in the players at hand.

"Now, they're standing and sitting in front of you," Washington said. "You are able to ask detailed questions and get a feel for what they've gained and what they've learned coming from where they're coming from. So we'll take all that information in hand and just continue to add that to the overall profile of that individual."

For Washington, those questions lead to answering his bigger questions about scheme fit and more.

Washington and Eberflus have discussed what their defense needs. Zeroing in on the right player takes time. The combine is step one, but an important one nonetheless.

"We've had extensive conversations as far as those things are concerned," Washington said. "We're trying to do our best in terms of evaluating what we have and trying to find the absolute best case scenario with people who may be available for us."

Waldron has a bigger task.

Should the Bears decide to draft a quarterback and move on from Justin Fields, Waldron needs to learn more about the prospects he could be coaching at quarterback come this May.

It isn't an easy decision. Waldron barely mentioned Fields or potential top pick Caleb Williams by name when asked about both on Thursday. 

In Waldron's step one, he doesn't have much time. But it needs to be impactful all the same.

"The combine's that firsthand to start to see some people in person and start to get a chance to, in a shorter time span, interview people and then putting in all the information that Ryan Poles and his staff has gathered in terms of the off the field," Waldron said. "What the character of the player is and all those things. So I'm excited to get to know those guys."


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