By Greg Gabriel–
(670 The Score) Firing season has begun in NFL coaching circles, as the Giants dismissed Ben McAdoo on Monday.
It appears likely that there will be a head coaching change for the Bears at season’s end, though nothing is certain. Whether it’s the Bears or elsewhere in the league, making a coaching change is never an easy task. The amount of research that goes into a franchise choosing a new coach is more than most think.
It’s much more than just selecting the “flavor of the month” or a hot candidate. In some cases, the big names you see tied to various teams may not be the best candidate in those clubs’ minds at all. Once an organization settles on a list of candidates, the interview process begins, which in itself is an exhausting process. Any given interview can last from four to six hours in length.
In the NFL, only one person can have what’s called total authority. In most cases, that’s either the general manager or the head coach. The person who has final control of the 53-man roster is essentially the boss and runs the franchise, regardless of title. Here in Chicago, general manager Ryan Pace has control of the 53-man roster. That won’t change if the Bears are in position to hire a new head coach, which means that any candidate who’s seeking control of the 53-man roster won’t be a candidate for long.
Regardless of whether a club is talking to an offensive-minded or defensive-minded coach, who that candidate has in mind for his staff is extremely important. Why? A head coach is only as good as his staff. If he can put together a strong staff, then he has a chance to succeed.
A coaching candidate needs more than one name for each assistant coaching position that’s available, because he may not be able to nab the individual at the top of his list. His list of names for the coordinator positions are the important, especially the coordinator who works opposite side of the ball from the head coach. A defensive head coach must have some quality coaches in mind for the offensive positions and vice versa. After the coordinators, the most important positions to fill are both the offensive and defensive line coaching positions. The key to winning in the NFL is to control the line of scrimmage. If you have a strong quarterback and strong lines, your team has a chance every week.
In Chicago, the key to getting hired should be a candidate’s plan to develop rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears have a lot invested in Trubisky, and his development is of the utmost importance. In places like Philadelphia, Dallas and Los Angeles, we’ve seen how strong offensive coaches have helped the young quarterbacks. We can expect to look for similar results here in Chicago if a coaching search is on the horizon.
The other important part of a head coaching interview is how the general manager and perspective candidate fit. They have to agree on philosophy, as they will be working closely together. Agreement has to be reached on the type of players they will go after in both the draft and free agency. How adversity is handled also must be discussed.
When coach John Fox was hired by the Bears in January 2015, Pace had a say in the decision, but how much say? He was new not only to the Bears but also the general manager’s role. He had never been involved in the hiring of a head coach before. For that reason, consultant Ernie Accorsi was retained for the head coaching search after he was involved in the general manager search.
When Fox and the Denver Broncos parted ways, it became a no-brainer that he would be the Bears’ next head coach. Accorsi has a long and strong relationship with Fox going back years to when Accorsi was the Giants’ general manager while Fox was the defensive coordinator. The thinking was that an experienced head coach paired with a young general manager would be the proper way to go.
As it turned out, it wasn’t.
If there’s to be a search this year, Pace will be much more involved. You can bet that not only will he be looking for a top candidate but he may also gravitate toward people he has already has a relationship with. Being that his only other NFL experience was with the New Orleans, two of his coaching candidates could well come from the Saint in the form of defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.
Being comfortable with the head coach is one of the more important parts of the selection process. The Bears may soon be experiencing that first-hand once again.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.