Matt Nagy’s coaching staff will look different in 2020.
Here are the first dominos to fall:
The #Bears have parted ways with the following coaches:
Kevin Gilbride (TE)
Mark Helfrich (OC)
Harry Hiestand (OL)
Brock Olivo (Asst. ST)
— Chicago Bears (@BearsPR) December 31, 2019
As reported by Adam Hoge of WGN Radio, the Bears are doing a bit of house-cleaning on New Year’s Eve: The team is parting ways with Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich, Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand, Tight Ends Coach Kevin Gilbride Jr., and Assistant Special Teams Coach Brock Olivo.
This shake-up on the coaching staff will ideally be a starting point for the Bears addressing issues in the running game and blocking schemes on the offensive side of the ball, while tightening up some areas in the special teams game.
Helfrich was never going to call plays in Chicago. Instead, he was brought in to aid in the development of quarterback Mitch Trubisky and aid Nagy creating an offense that blended spread concepts with the base West Coast scheme. And while things went OK in Year 1, the regression was real across the board this season. Moving forward, I would expect the Bears to bring in a replacement who has experience in quarterback development and a history of creating competent run schemes.
Hiestand’s second ride in Chicago lasted just two years, but moving on from him makes sense. Because even though Hiestand is a well-respected offensive line coach, this group’s regression was begging for a new voice and a fresh set of eyes on some old problems. Personnel changes would go a long way toward fixing problems at the line of scrimmage, but it is also clear things need to change schematically.
Gilbride was given a tough hand in 2019. His top three tight ends (Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker) finished the year on injured reserve. But when that trio was healthy, they weren’t exactly oozing production on the field. The Bears failed to get 100 receiving yards from their tight ends this year, but what else do you expect when you get down to TE4, TE5, and TE6 on the depth chart?
This is the second time in three years Olivo will be looking for work. Olivo, who spent time under highly acclaimed special teams guru Dave Toub in Kansas City, was fired after one year as the Broncos special teams coordinator before landing in Chicago under Chris Tabor (another Toub disciple) in 2018. As a whole, the Bears’ special teams unit was better in 2019 than it was last season, but better wasn’t enough for him to stick around for another year.
The Bears figured to have some sort of sweeping changes to the coaching staff after piecing together an awful year of offensive football. But one coach whose name wasn’t on the firing line on Tuesday was Quarterbacks Coach Dave Ragone, who remains the only holdover from the John Fox era.
Perhaps that will change once the new offensive coordinator comes in or when changes on other staffs happen and free up coaches who otherwise aren’t available right now. In any case, these are our first steps in an offseason of reckoning, which has already cost four coaches who were part of Nagy’s first round of staff hires their jobs.