Harry Hiestand is back for a second stint as Bears offensive line coach.
One national NFL writer is praising Bears coach Matt Nagy for hiring an assistant coach that is considered among the best at his craft in the country.
In Thursday's edition of Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback column, Albert Breer labels the Bears' addition of offensive line coach Harry Hiestand as "the offseason's underrated hire."
"We don't talk much about position coaches here," Breer writes. "But I'm going to give you one that I believe has a chance to be a big-time difference-maker for his first-time head coach: new Bears line coach Harry Hiestand. Matt Nagy did incredibly well to poach Hiestand, who'd been a target for a number of guys interviewing for jobs in January, from Notre Dame."
Offensive linemen that Hiestand helped develop the past six years in South Bend include Dallas Cowboys four-time Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin, Baltimore Ravens starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Houston Texans starting center Nick Martin.
In addition, guard Quenton Nelson and tackle Mike McGlinchey are both expected to be selected in the first round of this year's draft.
"We've seen the importance of line coaches the last few years, of course," Breer writes. "Jeff Stoutland's work last year in Philly—remember the Eagles lost Jason Peters for the year—helped the Eagles win it all and earned the ex-Alabama assistant a promotion to run-game coordinator. The difference Dante Scarnecchia makes in New England is well-documented, and Tony Sparano was huge in helping the Vikings meld new piece to fix their front last fall. Likewise, it looks like the Bears got a good one."
Hiestand has returned to the Bears for a second tour of duty. He first served as the team's offensive line coach for five seasons from 2005-09 under coach Lovie Smith, helping the Bears win back-to-back NFC North titles and reach Super Bowl XLI in 2006.
During that time, Hiestand played a key role in sending center Olin Kreutz (2005 and 2006) and guard Ruben Brown (2006) to the Pro Bowl. Kreutz was also named first-team All-Pro in 2006, the first Bears offensive lineman to accomplish that feat in 17 years.