The Lowdown On Harry Hiestand & Charles London

The Lowdown On Harry Hiestand & Charles London

At Matt Nagy’s job interview Ryan Pace asked him who he might bring to the Bears to fill his coaching staff. Pace told the media on Tuesday that he was extremely impressed with the response, “…these are the guys and these are the reasons why.” He added that Nagy told him that “this is how they will fit together in terms of creating good chemistry amongst the staff. How they balance each other out.”

We’ve profiled new offensive coordinator Mark Hilfrich (see here) and he’s clearly a creative offensive mind who connects with players by engaging with them and turning on a sharp sense of humor.

Working under Hilfrich will be new hires Harry Hiestand & Charles London. Let me share what I’ve learned about both of these men – each of which worked with the Bears in the past.

Hiestand, 59 years old, served as the Bears’ offensive line coach from 2005 to 2009. Since then he’s been at Notre Dame where he also helped coordinate the team’s running game. Check out his Notre Dame bio by CLICKING HERE. among his accomplishments you’ll find:

  • Developed four offensive linemen into top-three round NFL Draft picks since 2013 (Ronnie  Stanley, 1st; Zack Martin, 1st; Nick Martin, 2nd; and Chris Watt, 3rd)
  • Over the 11 NFL Drafts (2002-12) prior to Hiestand’s arrival at Notre Dame, only two Irish offensive linemen were drafted in the first three rounds and not a single one since 2007
  • The Irish averaged 207.6 rushing yards per game in 2015, including six games with 200+ yards (Texas, Virginia, Georgia Tech, UMass, USC and Stanford)
  • Notre Dame’s average of 5.63 yards per carry set a modern (post-WWII) school record
  • Four pupils were chosen in the 2014 NFL Draft — Zack Martin (first round) and Chris Watt (third round) of Notre Dame and Tennessee’s Ja’Wuan James (first) and Zach Fulton (sixth)

Clearly, Hiestand teaches well. At Nagy’s press conference he was asked about the added workload he’ll face and the new head coach said he will delegate many duties so that he can call plays. Hiestand appears to prefer working autonomously. He and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly rarely worked together according to Douglas Farmer of NBCSports.com who wrote:

For six years, Hiestand and Kelly worked together by essentially working apart. By no means was that a sign of a strained relationship. Rather, Kelly trusted the most-veteran assistant on his staff to operate autonomously. Hiestand rewarded that trust by producing cohesive and productive units time and time again, no matter what first-round NFL Draft pick had just walked out the door.

Farmer notes that Hiestand’s effectiveness was re-paid by intense loyalty.

The likes of (Quinten) Nelson, (Mike) McGlinchey, Ronnie Stanley and Zack Martin all turned down possible first-round selections for another season under his tutelage. They both trusted Hiestand to improve them further and felt some degree of loyalty to his cause that they wanted to aid it for another fall, helping groom another generation of offensive linemen in doing so.

Just last month Notre Dame’s offensive line was honored with the Joe Moore Award, which goes to the premier offensive line in college football. The Irish O-line was also a finalist for the award in 2015. Check out all of Farmer’s report here:

Hiestand has a reputation offing single-minded and totally focused on offensive line play. He has no ambition to do anything else but teach run and pass blocking.

“He’s the best teacher” graduate student left tackle Mike McGlinchey said of Hiestand in Aug. 2016. “He coaches fundamentals, and you’ll start doing fundamentals in your sleep, because all you’re doing is thinking about them during camp.

“He’s such an incredible teacher, pays such attention to detail. He cares so much and he sets a standard for us in our room that if you don’t meet it, he’s going to hold us accountable to it. That’s what makes our group so special.”

Current Notre Damers and past pupils all speak highly of him.

“He really and truly cares about developing guys and helping them be the best they can be,” former Notre Dame offensive lineman and current ESPN Radio host Mike Golic Jr. said in Jan. 2016. “If you let me talk for 45 minutes about coach Hiestand, it wouldn’t be enough time.”

Those quotes and more can be found by CLICKING HERE. here:

Former Bears players were also effusive in their praise. Olin Kruetz:

“He gets the most out of his guys,” Kreutz said. “He totally buys into you, which makes you totally buy into him. He’s all about the offensive line and he has no other agenda. He just wants to help you and help the team win.”

And Roberto Garza:

“From the moment you walked into his meetings, you knew he was serious. He had a plan that you were going to buy into it and a lot of guys, we weren’t ready for that. But once you go on the field with Harry and see what he has to offer, it’s hard not to fight for this guy every single play. He is a guy you can trust. He is going to fight for his offensive linemen and you will go to bat for him every day because he is going to have your back and you are going to have his.”

Listen to Hiestand in this video evaluating Notre Dame’s offensive linemen from a several years back and you get a sense of what Garza says; players will fight for this coach.

When you watch this next video on new running backs coach Charles London you see the same quality Hiestand has… players want to play for this coach.

London was with the Bears as a quality control assistant from 2007 to 2009. He along with Hiestand (and offensive coordinator Ron Turner) were released after 09 as the Bears came off an anemic season on offensive. The team allowed 35 sacks and the rushing game was 29th. (The problem of course was a dearth of talent as a result of poor draft picks.)

London then went to the Tennessee Titans for one season to do the same job before landing at Penn State to coach the backs. In his final season there, all of the team’s running backs (Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton, and Akeel Lynch) averaged at least 4.7 yards per carry.

With the Texans, London most recently worked with running backs Lamar Miller and D’onta Freeman. Prior to 2017 Miller spoke about why he had high expectations for the Texans’ run game, this from ESPN.com

Miller said part of the reason he thinks this group will succeed stems from the accountability the running backs derive from London. London said he works with the group on everything from taking care of their bodies to preparing for the upcoming season. And for rookies, that starts with the basics: learning how to be a professional and how to take notes in the meeting room.

 “I think he does a great job,” Miller said of London. “He holds all of us accountable. It really doesn’t matter if you’re [at] the bottom of the depth chart or the top. He holds everybody accountable, making sure everybody’s doing their job because at the end of the day, he’s our coach, so you’ve got to make him look good. He’s a great coach. When I first came here he taught me a lot. He’s a great coach.”

The Texans’ running game was performing at a high level early in the season with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson providing the option element, but fell off after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Nonetheless London is leaving behind players who speak highly of him.

London and Hiestand are teachers who hold their pupils accountable. Coaches who inspire football players to work harder and embrace their opportunities. Working with the creative Hilfrich this trio could make Nagy’s offense special in a short period of time.

For Hiestand, more specifically, we want to see if he can possibly salvage Hroniss Grasu’ career? Can he help Charles Leno Jr. move from being a average left tackle to a premier one? And, Bobby Massie… can he get the right tackle to concentrate and avoid those catastrophic games that obscure when he does play well?

Can London help Jordan Howard catch the ball better? Can he get Tarik Cohen to master the new playbook and become a reliable blocker for 3rd downs? And, can he help improve the team’s 118.8 yards per carry 2017 ranking of 16th?

Nagy told Pace said he would build a coaching staff that will compliment one another and have a strong chemistry. It appears those coaches also have the ability to create chemistry with their players.

Who Is New Bears Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich?

 

 

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.


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