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Bears hire Eric Washington as defensive coordinator

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The Bears on Saturday announced the hiring of Eric Washington as their new defensive coordinator.

Washington, 54, boasts 16 years of NFL coaching experience, beginning with the Bears as a defensive assistant (2008-09) and defensive line coach (2010). He spent the past four seasons with the Bills as defensive line coach, also serving as a senior defensive assistant (2022) and assistant head coach (2023).

Between his stints with the Bears and Bills, Washington worked with the Panthers as defensive line coach (2011-17) and defensive coordinator (2018-19).

"We are excited to announce that Eric Washington will be joining our team as the defensive coordinator," said coach Matt Eberflus. "He is a great communicator with elite leadership skills and he will enhance our current defensive staff. His track record speaks for itself with coordinator experience as well as expertise in the area of defensive line. I want to thank the other outstanding candidates that applied for this position."

"My family and I are beyond excited to be returning to the Chicago Bears," Washington said. "It is humbling to have the opportunity to contribute to one of the most esteemed sports organizations in the world! I thank God and I appreciate Coach Eberflus, the Bears front office, and the McCaskey family for entrusting me with this responsibility."

In Buffalo, Washington coached some of the NFL's best defenses. In 2021, the Bills led the league in points allowed per game (17.0) for the first time in franchise history and also ranked first in total yards per game (272.8) and passing yards (163.0). The defense helped Buffalo win its final four games by registering 19 sacks. In 2022, the Bills ranked second in the NFL in points permitted (17.8).

In 2023, Buffalo finished fourth in points allowed (18.3) and sacks (54), sixth in gross passing yards (216.2), tied for sixth in touchdowns allowed (34), eight total yards (326.8) and tied for 10th in tackles-for-loss (86).

With the Panthers, Washington helped linebacker Luke Kuechly earn first-team All-Pro honors in 2018 and second-team All-Pro recognition in 2019. Under Washington in 2019, the Panthers defense ranked second in the NFL in sacks (53).

With Washington leading the defense in 2018, Carolina's secondary improved from 28th to 12th in interceptions, 32nd to 13th in passes defensed and 18th to 9th in tackles-for-loss. As a defensive line coach from 2011-17, he led one of the most productive fronts in the NFL. Since 2012, no group of defensive linemen produced more sacks than Carolina's 219, part of Carolina's NFL-leading 280 total sacks. Carolina ranked in the top 10 in sacks in five of his seven seasons as defensive line coach, including a No. 1 ranking in 2013, a No. 2 in 2016 and a No. 3 in 2017.

In Washington's first stint with the Bears in 2010, he presided over a defensive line that accounted for 25 sacks and helped the defense rank ninth in the NFL in total yards, second against the run and fourth in points allowed.

Washington began coaching in 1997 when he served as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M for one season before joining Ohio University's staff as an assistant coach from 2001-03. Following three seasons with the Bobcats, Washington joined Northwestern's coaching staff for four seasons as their defensive line coach (2004-07).

A Shreveport, La., native, Washington played tight end at Grambling State from 1989-90 and graduated with a degree in education from the school in 1993. He and his wife, Amy, have a son, Ellis.

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