By Greg Gabriel–
(670 The Score) After the firing of coach John Fox and the signing of a two-year contract extension for general manager Ryan Pace on Monday, the Bears are turning their full attention to their coaching search.
As they do, it’s expected that the Bears will hire an offensive-minded head coach. But the Bears would be doing a disservice to themselves if they limited themselves in that sense, as the idea should be to hire the best coach, not the best offensive coach. A strong defensive coach or special teams coach who can put together an excellent offensive staff can be just as good, if not better, than hiring the best offensive candidate.
There will be plenty of quality candidates for the Bears to pursue.
The Bears have already requested interviews with Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Eagles quarterback coach John DeFilippo, according to reports. Others on that side of the ball to keep an eye on are Chiefs offensive coordinator and Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. It’s expected Pace will also talk with Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, whom he worked with previously in New Orleans. Stanford coach David Shaw could be a candidate as well.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears have already requested an interview with Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, per reports. Wilks, 48, has a strong reputation throughout the league, is intelligent and well-spoken. What’s working against him is that Wilks has only been a defensive coordinator for one season, so he may have to wait longer for his head coaching opportunity.
The Bears should also keep Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in mind in the interview process.
Another great candidate is Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub, who has consistently overseen one of the best special teams units for the past 14 years, nine with the Bears and then the last five with the Chiefs. His understanding of players, his ability to communicate and his leadership is second to none. If Toub isn’t on the Bears’ radar, then their list is incomplete.
As of Tuesday morning, there were five head coaching vacancies in the league. More could be added in the coming days, so competition for the best candidates is heavy. All the organizations involved in a coaching search will need to sell their program.
What the Bears have going for them in attracting candidates is a young quarterback with a promising future in 23-year-old Mitchell Trubisky, a bright general manager in Pace and a multi-million-dollar renovation of Halas Hall coming soon.
At Monday’s press conference, it was revealed that chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips will be accompanying Pace on the trips to interview candidates in the coming weeks. That could prove to be a mistake for the Bears, who have given Pace an extension and said that he’s the final decision-maker in choosing a head coach. If Pace is solely in charge of this search, then they need to stay out of the way and let him do his job. By accompanying Pace to opening interviews, it weakens Pace’s hand as the man in charge.
When the list is narrowed and second interviews are in taking place, that’s when McCaskey and Phillips should get involved.
Whatever happens, it figures to be an intriguing few weeks.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.