The first hire of the Matt Nagy era brings a familiar face.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports Harry Hiestand is expected to return to the Chicago Bears as the team’s offensive line coach. Hiestand is leaving Notre Dame, where he has served as the team’s offensive line coach since 2012 and has turned that group into a team strength.
Here’s hoping he can do the same for the Bears in his second tour of duty with the team (he previously coached the Bears’ offensive line, but more on that in a bit).
The Bears’ offensive line was projected to be a strength before the season, but injuries, ineffective play, and the seemingly never-ending moving of players around the line kept the group from reaching its potential. Still, guard Josh Sitton and left tackle Charles Leno Jr. were among the highest graded players at their respective positions, according to Pro Football Focus in 2017.
It will be up to Hiestand to help get the most out of a talented group that will be working with its third position coach in as many seasons.
Hiestand aided in the development of four Fighting Irish linemen who were picked in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft since 2013. That group is headlined by four-time Pro Bowl Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin and 2016 Baltimore Ravens first-round pick Ronnie Stanley. And there are more on the way with Fighting Irish guard Quenton Nelson and offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey set to enter the NFL Draft as the top prospects at their respective positions.
This is a homecoming of sorts for Hiestand, who coached the Bears’ offensive line from 2005 through 2009. That stretch of years included the Bears’ 2006 run to the Super Bowl and a 2008 season in which they were one of six teams to have the same five starters for every game.
The Bears had some studs along the line back then, including Olin Kreutz, John Tait, Fred Miller, and Roberto Garza, but Hiestand obviously deserves some credit, as well. Hopefully, he’ll be able to tighten things up in front of Mitch Trubisky and give the rookie QB a fighting chance next season.