The Chicago Bears had an unexpected job opening this past month when defensive backs coach James Rowe jumped at the opportunity to become the new defensive coordinator at USF. Head coach Matt Eberflus must now look for a replacement. Looks like he’s aiming high. It has already been reported that the Bears have requested permission to speak with Green Bay Packers defensive back coach Jerry Gray. Now another established name has joined the list, and it’s much better known to fans.
The same names usually come to mind when we think of the Bears great defense of the mid-2000s and early 2010s. It starts with Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman. Then there were Nathan Vasher, Julius Peppers, Tommie Harris and others. One person who played a prominent role at that time, whom many forget, is Chris Harris. A 6th round pick in 2005, he became the starter a year later after Mike Brown went down injured. He collected six interceptions in those two years, including one by Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
Chicago traded him to Carolina in 2007. However, he returned in 2010, where he got five more interceptions to earn second-team All-Pro honors. He retired in 2013 and started a coaching career. The Washington Commanders rose through the ranks in San Diego as an assistant defensive backs coach and made him their leading defensive backs coach in 2020. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Bears may want to bring him home.
Harris is a clear target for the Chicago Bears.
It’s not just for nostalgic purposes. The man has a deep background in the defensive style used by Eberflus and his staff. Harris played on the Lovie Smith Tampa-2 schedule for many years and has coached a variation of it under Washington’s Ron Rivera. That familiarity makes it an easy sell. He would know exactly what is expected of the secondary upon arrival. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty good at his job. Over the past three seasons, Harris has helped several defensive backs have outstanding years. Kendall Fuller is one of the better closing corners in the NFL. Former 5th round pick Darrick Forrest continued to intercept four team leaders last season.
It will be interesting to see how the Chicago Bears plan to lure Harris away from Washington if they get the go-ahead. Eberflus can dangle the title of assistant head coach in addition to his usual job as a defensive back. That would result in a nice pay raise, while also helping Harris reach his goal of becoming a defensive coordinator and eventually head coach.