LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The shakeups on Matt Nagy’s coaching staff have begun, as the Chicago Bears are moving on from four assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, a source told WGN Radio Tuesday.
Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride and assistant special teams coach Brock Olivo were also let go.
All four assistants were with the Bears for two seasons, joining the staff when Nagy was hired as head coach in 2018. For Helfrich, the former head coach at Oregon, it was his first job in the NFL.
The Bears regressed significantly on offense in 2019, finishing the season ranked No. 29 in both points and yards, so changes were expected. In a press conference Tuesday morning, Bears general manager Ryan Pace specifically pointed to the offensive line as an area that needs to be improved in 2020.
“We struggled in that area this year. That’s real, ” Pace said. “I think we know it starts up front with those guys. That’s something we really got to look at from a personnel standpoint. From a schematic standpoint we’re going to look at it. That was real this year. That hurt us.”
Hiestand was back with the Bears in his second stint as offensive line coach. He also coached the Bears’ line from 2005-09. All five starters returned in 2019, but the team ended up making significant personnel changes during the season. Right guard Kyle Long was placed on injured reserve after five games despite playing every snap in his final game. He was replaced by Rashaad Coward, a former defensive lineman who was playing on the offensive line for the first time. The team also switched Cody Whitehair back to center and James Daniels back to left guard in the middle of season, after originally swapping their positions in the offseason. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. struggled at times in his sixth NFL season and right tackle Bobby Massie missed the final five games with an ankle injury.
“We’re going to look at everything right now,” Nagy said Tuesday morning when asked about possible coaching changes. “I think it’s our job, my job, to make sure the reflection process is done the right way. Regardless of the timeline, we want to make sure they’re the right decisions.”
Now the focus switches to who Nagy will hire. Both Helfrich and Hiestand were heavily involved in an ineffective run game the last two seasons and that will undoubtedly be a focus for Nagy. However, a strong track record with quarterbacks will also matter. It’s notable that quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone was kept on staff. He was a holdover from John Fox’s staff and has been Trubisky’s QB coach since he was drafted.