LAKE FOREST – It took less than a week for the team to make their first new coaching hire of the 2019-2020 offseason official – and the Bears reportedly had the agreement done just days after their season ended.
But on Sunday afternoon the team announced they’d hired Juan Castillo to take over the offensive line duties from Harry Hiestand, who was one of four assistants let go two days after the conclusion of an 8-8 season.
The #Bears have officially hired NFL coaching veteran Juan Castillo as offensive line coach. Castillo possesses 24 years of NFL coaching experience with three different clubs.
(AP Photo) pic.twitter.com/QSUQV0z2hI
— Chicago Bears (@BearsPR) January 5, 2020
Castillo has built up a healthy resume during his 24 years in the NFL, with coaching jobs on both offense and defense. He most recently was the offensive line coach and run coordinator for the Buffalo Bills in 2017 & 2018, which followed three seasons in a similar role with the Baltimore Ravens.
The connection to Matt Nagy comes during his tenure with the Eagles, which lasted from 1995-2012 in a variety of capacities. He was the offensive line coach while Nagy was on Andy Reid’s staff from 2008-2010 before flipping sides of the ball to become the defensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012.
Castillo was let go when Nagy was fired following the last of those seasons. Philadelphia was the first stop for Castillo as a coach, with his previous experience coming in college and in high school in Kingsville, Texas.
When he arrives in Chicago, he’ll have the job of turning around an offensive line that digressed during the 2019 season. The Bears rushed for just 1,458 yards (27th in the NFL) with an average of 3.7 yards per carry (28th in the NFL), which was down from the 1,938 yards and a 4.1 per carry average in 2018. Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel were also hit 86 times, with 45 of them resulting in sacks, which was also a step back from 2018 (33 sacks, 64 hits allowed).
Castillo will have to decide who put in at one guard with starter Kyle Long likely not returning in 2020 after missing a significant amount of time due to injury the past four seasons. At the other guard spot, he’ll have to decide whether to keep the current arrangement of having James Daniels at the position with Cody Whitehair handling the snapping duties. The players flipped positions to start the season but struggles forced the pair to change back in November.
Improved play will also be sought for tackles Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. as the Bears hope a new voice will improve an offensive line that struggled most of the 2019 season.