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updated: 1/11/2018 7:39 PM

Chicago Bears hire former Oregon coach Helfrich as offensive coordinator

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  • Former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich will join the Chicago Bears as offensive coordinator.

    Former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich will join the Chicago Bears as offensive coordinator.
    Associated Press/2016 file

 
 

The Chicago Bears have hired former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as their offensive coordinator, according to multiple sources.

Helfrich won 33 games in his first three seasons (2013-15) and went to the national title game after the 2014 season, losing 42-20 to Ohio State. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the Heisman trophy that season with Helfrich calling offensive plays.

But the 44-year-old Helfrich was fired after going 4-8 in 2016, and he was a college football analyst for Fox Sports last year. For four years prior to becoming Oregon's head coach, Helfrich was the Ducks' offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly.

Their Oregon offenses were wide open and fast-paced. And, although head coach Matt Nagy will call plays for the Bears, the former Chiefs offensive coordinator used some similar spread concepts.

Helfrich has coached at the collegiate level for 20 years, but the Bears' job will be his first in the NFL.

He joins a staff that already includes special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and running backs coach Charles London. Those three all worked previously for the Bears on Lovie Smith's staff.

Nagy's first hires seem to fit the description he gave for his ideal staff during his introductory news conference.

"You want to have diversity; you want to have experienced diversity as well," the 39-year-old Nagy said. "What you don't want is a staff full of the same people. You want to have people that teach in different ways. There might be some yellers and screamers, and there might be some guys that teach in a nicer way."

Nagy has been praised throughout the league for the quality assistants he's hired, the byproduct of his being hired early in the NFL's annual version of musical chairs. Six teams were in the market for new head coaches, and the Bears were the second to make their decision. That gave Nagy a deeper pool of prospective assistants to choose from.

Hiestand and Tabor both could have entertained multiple offers had they not signed with the Bears.

The 59-year-old Hiestand has spent 32 years as a college coach but also had a five-year stint with the Bears (2005-09) under Lovie Smith. He has worked almost exclusively with offensive linemen.

Tabor, a quarterback at Benedictine College (Kansas), spent 11 years coaching various offensive positions at the collegiate level. He broke into the NFL with the Bears on Smith's staff, spending three years (2008-10) as an assistant special-teams coach under coordinator Dave Toub. For the previous seven years, he was the special-teams coordinator with the Cleveland Browns.

London, 42, coached three years at Duke, then worked for three years with the Bears as an offensive quality control coach, He spent a year with the Tennessee Titans, two years at Penn State and then the past four years as the Houston Texans' running backs coach.

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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