By Dan Bernstein —
670TheScore.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) Silence can be liberating, as it is in Ryan Pace’s fast-moving and secretive search for the head coach who will ultimately make or break his tenure as Bears general manager. He said almost nothing about the criteria for the job, the size of the candidates’ pool or the nature of the interviews when he met the press a week ago, only to dive in immediately to the work of the selection itself.
It makes it easier for Pace to remain stealthy — he has already sat down with six potential coaches whom the team has confirmed and is still moving along to others, and it leaves fans entirely on the outside, just following along with the growing list of connected names even as we barely know anything about most of them.
Face it, and be honest with yourself: Any of these guys could walk into the room right now and you wouldn’t know John DeFilippo from Matt Nagy, or George Edwards from anywhere. You’d only perhaps have some memory of Pat Shurmur’s time in Cleveland or the knowledge that Josh McDaniels used a first-round draft pick on Tim Tebow. You know Vic Fangio, kinda, and that’s about it.
Which is perfectly fine in this case, because our familiarity with any of them has no bearing on their respective chances for success in Chicago. Any of us can pick a name and attach to it like some horse on a summer Sunday at Arlington, but that’s only for our own entertainment as much as anything substantive. One of the guys will be The Guy, and he then either leads Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears up immediately from the divisional cellar toward the playoffs or everybody gets fired.
When an announcement eventually arrives, our judgments won’t be based on any actual outcomes for some time. All we can do at that point is evaluate both Pace’s process and consistency with what we’ve been told. Was it sufficiently thorough and deliberate? Do we find out after the fact about missteps or conflict that may have soured one or more of the interviewees and made news in the backwater communication of agents and assistants? And we’ll want to know if any risky or outside-the-box ideas were explored and to what end.
Pace seemed to be clear about his goal of making this hire an optimization of Trubisky, a doubling down on a bet he was proud to describe as “all in.” It sure seems like this will be an offensive specialist, then, but any number of variables could change that during the search. He can easily justify an option from the other side of the ball by telling us he was so impressed that he had no choice but to change course — this candidate was just so good — as he’s on the hook for it regardless.
The first step is digesting the introductory press conference, and the next is to follow the perfunctory construction of the staff, by which I mean we make note of any familiar names. If anybody feels particularly strongly about a new tight ends coach or defensive backs assistant, he or she is watching too much football and needs an intervention.
Whomever it may be, all that it comes down to is Pace’s ownership of the move. It’s like watching a Bears game in that way now, except in slow motion, but just as completely out of our control and underpinned by an unease informed by recent results.