The Chicago Bears are reportedly set to hire former Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor. This comes just over a week after they hired veteran assistant Juan Castillo to oversee their much-maligned offensive line. Early reactions were certainly more positive for the latter.
Bears to Hire Bill Lazor
Chicago parted with Mark Helfrich who came to Chicago with Matt Nagy in 2018 after 21 years in the college ranks. The Bears offense ranked 9th in points and 21st in yards in 2018 but regressed in 2019; falling to 29th in both categories. One would be hard-pressed to find a reason to oppose the change.
Well, Lazor’s Bengals fielded offenses that never ranked higher than 16th in points and 26th in yards with him as coordinator. The Dolphins were 11th in points and 14th in yards in 2014 but they regressed badly the next season. His best work was in 2013 as he coached Nick Foles to his lone Pro Bowl season when he threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
But anyone who follows the Bears knows that a major problem with the offense was the playcalling. That problem won’t be solved with the hiring of Lazor because it is, has been, and will be Nagy calling plays. The playcalling (or lack thereof) and sketchy track record are reason enough to pause even before considering the way this played out.
Shunned by Shurmur
Rumors began swirling about Pat Shurmur soon after he was fired as head coach of the New York Giants. He is a highly successful coordinator who was in over his head as a head coach. But that experience will serve him well in his new role in particular. He agreed to join the Denver Broncos and former Bears defensive boss, Vic Fangio’s staff, spurning the Bears.
Other names linked to the Bears were Mike Groh, who the Philadelphia Eagles just fired, and Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka. Groh would have been a tough sell. Even if his offense was productive with literal practice squad players. And while bringing in Kafka might sound progressive, it’s the same coaching tree Nagy came from, Andy Reid‘s.
Without knowing who was on their shortlist, one has to assume the Bears had Lazor fairly high on it. Otherwise, it’s hard to determine what sold Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on him. Dalton’s peak numbers look a lot like Mitchell Trubisky from 2018 and the year with Foles (Lazor’s best work) was six years ago.
Lazor Bears Watching
It might not be obvious without him calling the plays, but the Bears must value what he will bring in terms of game planning and his history of working with quarterbacks. Otherwise, naming current quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone seemed to be the likely move once Shurmur was off the market.
This is certainly a situation to monitor. It’s possible the Bears missed out on their top target due to Nagy retaining play-calling duties. Duties that he has struggled with at times over his first two years as a head coach and even going back to his lone season calling plays with the Chiefs. If it continues to be an issue for the Bears, can Lazor right the ship?
Or maybe this is a precursor to additions the Bears are planning to make to the quarterback room. Dalton is a free agent. And, though he does have middling numbers, after watching what Ryan Tannehill (whom Lazor coached in Miami) has done for the Tennessee Titans the Bears could be aiming for something similar.
Lazor’s Impact on Bears Uknown
The hiring is still not official, though it has been reported by multiple outlets. Barring an unforeseen event, a la Josh McDaniels backing out on the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, Lazor will be tabbed as the next Bears offensive coordinator. He will be tasked (and possibly scapegoated) with turning around a moribund unit and, specifically, Trubisky.
On paper, the results seem less than encouraging. He did deal with injuries in Cincinnati and optimists will toss out their offense averaging around 30 points per game. However, that is just one part of his body of work. And while those points sound great in retrospect, those Bengals and Dolphins teams were bad. It sounds like a lot of garbage time stat padding.
Embed from Getty Images