Ask around the league, and you’ll hear nothing but good things about new Chicago Bears offensive Shane Waldron from coaches and league officials, it seems.
Ask Jaxon Smith-Njigba, though, and maybe you won’t feel as enthused as you did.
Mark Carman of CHGO caught up with Smith-Njigba, who played in Waldron’s offense as a rookie in Seattle last year, and fellow Ohio State alum Chris Olave at Super Bowl’s Radio Row in Las Vegas on Wednesday and asked Smith-Njigba about his old offense coordinator.
The answer was not what anyone expected.
The silence was LOUD when we asked Jaxon Smith-Njigba about new Bears OC Shane Waldron pic.twitter.com/r7beJgxEMq— CHGO Bears (@CHGO_Bears) February 7, 2024
“Uhh…this is live?” Smith-Njigba sheepishly joked before eventually starting with “Good luck with that.”
The former Ohio State star, who rebounded from a slow start and an early injury to finish his rookie year with 63 catches and 628 receiving yards, eventually did offer more expansive (and positive) thoughts on Waldron, who comes to Chicago after serving as Seattle’s OC the last three seasons.
“He’s a great person, great offensive coordinator. I was very lucky to have him my first year, learned a lot from him. I think him and Justin [Fields] are going to mesh well,” he said.
(Oh yeah, both Smith-Njigba and Olave think the Bears shouldn’t trade Fields, their former Ohio State teammate and think Chicago would regret doing so. But you already knew that.)
So perhaps you shouldn’t reach for the bleach bottle or get ready to walk off that bridge just yet. Plus, Smith-Njigba hasn’t seen much of the NFL or Waldron just yet, having just entered the league. You also have to consider the young former Buckeye was behind established stars like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the target pecking order and may have wanted a bigger role than he had.
However, the body language and unease of the young receiver’s response is not encouraging and makes you wonder if there were any issues behind the scenes we don’t know about.
Obviously, no play-caller or offensive coordinator is perfect. And the results for Waldron with the Seahawks are pretty strong, especially his work in helping Russell Wilson and Geno Smith play with better rhythm.
But you’d definitely prefer hearing guys speak more glowingly of working with Waldron across the board to stammers and “good luck with that.”
Hopefully, this is all one player’s opinion and not a sneak peek at what the Bears have to look forward to under Waldron’s guidance.