Bill Lazor has coached quarterbacks for four NFL teams and run offenses for two.
It’s what he didn’t do this season, however, that follows a strange trend in the Bears’ hiring practices. Lazor — who will become the Bears’ coordinator, sources confirmed Monday — is the third offensive assistant hired this month who didn’t coach in the NFL in 2019.
The Bears hired offensive line coach Juan Castillo and tight ends coach Clancy Barone to help bulk up their rushing attack. Including Lazor, all three have extensive experience in the league — just not this season. The Bears’ coordinator job wasn’t as attractive as some others in the league because coach Matt Nagy plans on calling plays again next season.
The Bears were interested in Pat Shurmur, who was fired as the Giants’ coach two weeks ago. Shurmur reportedly agreed to go to the Broncos, though, after coach Vic Fangio fired his offensive coordinator late Sunday. There, he will have offensive autonomy.
Lazor will be given the task of helping to develop quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the Bears’ running game, two areas in which the team failed last season.
Like Nagy, Lazor is a Pennsylvania-bred, record-setting former Division I-AA quarterback. He went from Scranton to Cornell; Nagy went from Manheim to Delaware. They never have worked together, however. Like Mark Helfrich, the coordinator Nagy fired exactly two weeks earlier, Lazor is a former Chip Kelly assistant.
Lazor, 47, has called plays at two NFL stops. The 2014 Dolphins ranked 11th in points and 14th in yards before dropping to 26th and 27th, respectively, the next season. Coach Joe Philbin was fired five games into the 2015 season, and Lazor was let go with five games left.
Lazor spent 2016 as the Bengals’ quarterbacks coach and was promoted when coordinator Ken Zampese was fired two games into the 2017 season. The Bengals had one of the worst offenses in the NFL that season, finishing 26th in points and 32nd in yards. They were 17th and 26th, respectively, in 2018 before Marvin Lewis and his assistants were fired.
In three of Lazor’s four seasons as a coordinator, his teams finished ninth or higher in rushing yards per attempt. That’s significant for the Bears, who need a run-game identity.
He might provide a link to an improved passing game, too. With the Bengals expected to draft LSU’s Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in April, Lazor’s former quarterback, Andy Dalton, should be available. With 133 career starts, he theoretically could challenge Trubisky or take over if/when he scuffles.
Lazor guided Nick Foles to a 27-touchdown, two-interception season as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach in 2013. That landed him the Dolphins’ coordinator job in 2014, when Ryan Tannehill threw for 4,045 yards — more than any Bears quarterback in history — in their first season together.
Lazor’s other stops as a quarterbacks coach weren’t nearly as fruitful. He oversaw Mark Brunell and Jason Campbell with the 2006-07 Redskins and Seneca Wallace and Matt Hasselbeck with the 2008-09 Seahawks.