Bears rookie head coach Matt Nagy will hire Notre Dame’s Harry Hiestand to be the team’s offensive line coach, CSN’s John Mullin first reported Wednesday.
If Hiestand’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was Lovie Smith’s offensive line coach with the Bears from 2005 to ’09, when C Olin Kreutz earned two of his six Pro Bowl appearances and both All-Pro nods.
Hiestand, 59, is a 35-year coaching veteran who spent the past five seasons overseeing the Fighting Irish offensive line. During that time, he coached Cowboys All-Pro LG and former first-rounder Zack Martin, and Ravens’ 2016 first-round pick LT Ronnie Stanley.
Hiestand most recently worked with OG Quenton Nelson, an All-American and likely high first-round pick in the 2018 Draft, and OT Mike McGlinchey, a two-time team captain and 2016 All-American who’s also likely to be a first-round pick in April.
Hiestand and head coach Brian Kelly recently implemented a zone-blocking system at Notre Dame that is similar to the one Nagy is expected to run in Chicago. Hiestand inherits a talented line, including a pair of Pro Bowl guards in Kyle Long and Josh Sitton; young C Cody Whitehair, an All-Rookie in 2016; and LT Charles Leno, who received a four-year contract extension containing nearly $22 million guaranteed last offseason.
Hiestand will be responsible for coaxing more consistent performances from the Bears’ 30th-ranked offense, which struggled up front with injuries and penalties last season under former offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn.
Hiestand, Nagy’s first official staff hire, is not only strong candidate, but encouraging proof that a young head coach can attract an experienced teacher with an impressive resume. Because Nagy will be calling his own plays, offensive line coach is right up there with quarterbacks coach as the most important staff hire he’ll make on offense.