Fans already have a fairly good knowledge of the Chicago Bears assistant coaches layout and what they do best. This is because of the title of the position they cover. Harry Hiestand is the offensive line coach. It’s self-explanatory. However, there are certain new additions to the Bears staff that come with a bit of a fog around. Sure they have a title, but nobody quite knows who stands to benefit the most from their presence.
Every coach has a particular specialty. That one position they just seem to excel at elevating for their team. Vic Fangio has a strong grasp of the linebackers. Matt Nagy was hired for his magic touch on the quarterbacks. So what about the other guys who haven’t gotten much of the spotlight? Here’s an exploration of what their histories reveal.
Slight spoiler? It’s pretty good news.
Chicago Bears assistant coaches specialties
Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich: Offensive line
Most of his career as an assistant coach and head coach in college was spent around the quarterback position. So most would assume that’s the primary area of expertise for Mark Helfrich. A fact reinforced by his help Marcus Mariota go #2 overall in the 2015 draft. Except a closer examination of his history shows he’s actually even more adept with the offensive line positions.
Since his rise to notability started in 2009 as offensive coordinator at Oregon, the Ducks began to churn out a healthy number of quality blockers. Their best products were future Pro Bowlers Max Unger and Kyle Long. They are joined by five other players who were eventually drafted including two in the top three rounds. No other position group saw as much draft success out of that program over the same time span.
It didn’t start at Oregon either. Back in 2006, he’d become offensive coordinator at Colorado. There he helped recruit a young man by the name of Nate Solder. With Helfrich’s help, the offensive tackle became a first round pick of the New England Patriots and two-time Super Bowl champion.
Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor: Punting
Punting may not be considered the most glamorous part of football but time and again it’s proven crucial to the outcome of big games. Teams that can punt well tend to maintain key advantages in field position and defensive time on the field. This is a problem the Bears have struggled to solve. Seems hiring Chris Tabor from Cleveland may have had that in mind.
“During his six seasons with the Browns, Tabor has helped numerous players set NFL and franchise records. Last season, punter Britton Colquitt set a Browns net punting average record with 40.3. Tabor’s punters rank first (Colquitt), second (Andy Lee 40.1 in 2015) and fourth (Spencer Lanning 39.2 in 2014) in the team record book.”
Overall the special teams units were average in Cleveland but that wasn’t entirely Tabor’s fault given how bad the talent situation was. Still, given what he had he certainly got results. The Bears defense could be a particular benefactor of his arrival if his magic with the punt team holds true.
Strength & Conditioning Coach Jason Loscalzo: The Lines
Three-straight years of record-breaking injury problems made changes on the training staff inevitable. The Bears had to find a way to both curb the health issues and elevate their players to a level that put them on par with the best in the league. Their choice was somewhat unexpected but also inspired in Washington State strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo.
WSU head coach Mike Leach was disappointed to lose his trusted assistant but knew it was coming eventually. The belief is the Bears will benefit most from Loscalzo’s work with offensive and defensive linemen.
“He did a real good job in the weight room. He especially does a good job with the big men. If it has to do with weights or within the weight room, he does a really good job as far as pushing the lifts and all that type of stuff.”
It’s true. During his time at Boston College from 2007 to 2012 he helped two offensive tackles, Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus become first round picks. On the defensive side, defensive tackle B.J. Raji became a first rounder as well. Since 2000, WSU had just four offensive and defensive linemen get drafted up until his arrival in 2013. Within his time there three have been drafted. That’s tangible impact.
Head Athletic Trainer Andre Tucker: Secondary
If the Bears were going for experience, they found the right man. Andre Tucker has been an athletic trainer in an assistant capacity since 2004 spanning three different franchises. He’s seen how teams have done it in different ways and has awaited his own opportunity. He was ready when Chicago came calling.
Of course his job is to help the entire roster but there is a trend that holds throughout Tucker’s run as a trainer. He seems to be quite good with defensive backs. These are some of the notable names he’s worked with dating back 13 years.
- Rashean Mathis
- Reggie Nelson
- Brent Grimes
- Joe Haden
- T.J. Ward
- Donte Whitner
- Tashaun Gipson
All of those names became eventual Pro Bowlers. Sure he may not have had a direct claim on their success but it’s proof that Tucker has a firm grasp on the sort of training it takes to become a top defensive back in the NFL. This could be great news for guys like Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos who are hoping to take the next step.