Alright Bears fans, so Phil Emery has made his decision, and is now in the process to hire a new Head Coach for the Chicago Bears. Surprisingly, 4 different coaches have already been confirmed to be targeted by the Bears, with 3 of them set for interviews this week alone. Also, Phil Emery has promised to the public, that they will consider absolutely anyone, from former Head Coaches, to current NFL coordinators on offense, special teams, as well as defense, and even Head Coaches from the Collegiate ranks. Lets have a look at each of these coaches supposedly linked with the Bears, as well as other possible candidates.
Current (And Confirmed) targets:
Mike McCoy, OC, Denver Broncos : He was the 1st coaching candidate the Bears requested, and were granted permission to interview for their Head Coaching job. And why wouldn't he? Mike McCoy is easily the hottest name in the current Head Coaching market, because of his total success on the offensive side of the ball. Phil Emery even described how he's targeting to hire a coach who's adaptable, as well as flexible, which would provide for the least amount of transition needed:
“I think it’s really important to find the person that has the knowledge and feel to make things fit with the talent that they have,” Emery said. “That’s the mark of excellence that I’m looking for. Somebody that has adapted to the role or has the flexibility and the skill set to make the players that we have fit toward making a run for the championship.”
Considering what Mike McCoy has done, he's the definition of a coach who fit's that description perfectly. From 2000-2008, he served with the Carolina Panthers both as a WRs coach, as well as the QBs coach. With the Panthers, he coached Jake Delhomme, as well as Steve Smith, both of which were Pro Bowlers at each of their respective positions. Then, in 2009 he was brought over by none other than Josh McDaniels, as both the Offensive Coordinator and the QBs coach. From 2009-Present, the list of different QBs he's worked with are Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, and Peyton Manning. In each of those years, he's got Kyle Orton to produce a career-year, Peyton Manning a sure-handed candidate for both MVP as well as Comeback Player of the Year coming off of spinal surgery, shoot he even got Tim Tebow(!!!!!!) to be an effective starter at QB ( ! to the power of infinity). He's adapted his playbook more than any other coach I've ever seen in terms of making adjustments. And, he's gotten consistent production from every single player he's coached, especially QBs. It would come at no surprise, if he's the top candidate for the job with the Bears.
Mike Sullivan, OC, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He's not a really well known name, as information on him is rather scarce. But, he is raved around the league for his work with Eli Manning while he was with the New York Giants as the QBs coach from 2010-2011, and has just finished his 1st season as an Offensive Coordinator with the Bucs. He served 8 years overall with the New York Giants, being a part of 2 Super Bowl champion teams in the process. In his lone year as the OC, his Offense was ranked 9th overall, 10th in passing yards as well as 15th in rushing. Josh Freeman played fairly well in his 1st year under Sullivan, and his receivers did well also. However, that's really all I can find on him. I'd say he's the relative "no-name" on the confirmed list.
Joe DeCamillis, ST, Dallas Cowboys: From what I've been told, he's one of the best Special Teams coaches in the NFL, and he is one of 2 confirmed coaches Phil Emery has worked with in person, back from when both worked for the Atlanta Falcons. From the eye-ball test, the Dallas Cowboys have a pretty solid and consistent bunch on Special Teams, where his views are somewhat parallel with Dave Toub's (who I will discuss about later) when it comes to putting your best players on Special Teams. Dez Bryant was a decent kick returner, before he got replaced by Harris, who also was a good kick returner this season. Overall, he knows how to get the most out of his talent. Not sure what his, or the next guys's views on offense will be, which will become a serious question from Phil Emery if you ask me.
Keith Armstrong, ST, Atlanta Falcons: This person has been in the coaching business ever since 1987 when he was a graduate assistant with Temple, then in 1988 he was a secondary coach with Miami (AKA The U) as well as a special teams coach. From those years on forward, he served as a DB coach as well as a special teams coach, and even as a LB coach with Akron, Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame. His NFL career started in 1994 with the Altanta Falcons, as a DB coach from 1994-1996, before transferring over to the Chicago Bears in 1997. He served as the Bears' Special Teams coach from 1997-2000, before traveling over to the Miami Dolphins, where he coached Special Teams from 2001-2007, before returning to the Atlanta Falcons, where he's been the Special Teams coach from 2008-Present. Phil Emery has known him for a long time, both while they were together with the Bears, as well as when they were with the Falcons. It comes as no surprise to me Phil Emery requested an interview with him, being that they've known each other for such a long time. They've already signed a player coached by Keith Armstrong in Eric Weems, and Armstrong has been around a lot of different coaches. Again, his knowledge or lack-thereof in terms of offense will be something grilled by fans, but he's been in the coaching business for a very long time now.
Tom Clements, OC, Green Bay Packers: He's a familiar name to all Bears fans, as he has been with the Green Bay Packers as their QB coach since 2006. He was just promoted to OC last season, but, he was also requested by Jerry Angelo and the Bears to interview for the OC job back in 2010, where the Packers shot us down and denied us the interview. But now, he's just been reported to be on the Bears' radar for HC. He too, makes absolute sense, he's helped develop Aaron Rodgers into perhaps the best QB in the NFL, despite their shortcomings on the OL. He could help Jay Cutler big time, as Jay Cutler himself is a mobile, strong armed QB much like Rodgers. He's been a popular name for Bears fans for quite sometime now, and we now see him once again in a Bears coaching search, except this time for Head Coach.
Other Names Linked to Chicago Bears (Not Confirmed):
Doug Marrone, HC, Syracuse: He's set to interview for the Bills and Browns Head Coaching jobs, but our very own Midway has provided a link that states both the Bears, and the Kansas City Chiefs, are both high on him. He's been on the offensive side of the ball for sometime now, dating back to his college days starting at Cortland State. He was the OL coach for the New York Jets in 2005, before being named as the Saints' OC in 2006. He filled that role until 2008, where left for Syracuse to become their HC from 2009 until present. His offense has been fairly successful, and I shouldn't be all that surprised his name just popped out recently.
Kyle Shanahan, OC, Redskins: He's the son of fabled Head Coach Mike Shanahan, so right away his expertise is with Offense. He's also an extremely young coaching candidate at just the age of 33. His first NFL job was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2004-2005 under John Gruden, where he was an Offensive Quality coach. Starting from 2006, he moved to the Houston Texans, 1st as a WR coach, then as a QB coach in 2007, where he served under another great Offensive mind in Gary Kubiak, who was (surprise) the OC for his father, Mike Shanahan, while both were with the Denver Broncos along with the late QB John Elway. Then, in 2008, he was promoted to OC, where he helped to coordinate one of the top 10 offenses in both of his years as the OC (2008-2009). Coming at absolutely no surprise, Kyle Shanahan moved to Washington D.C. where he joined forces with his father, Mike, as they've been coaching the Washington Redskins as father and son since 2010-Present. His work on each of those offenses has been consistent, as well as fantastic. He too, is very adaptable, and perhaps his most attractive feature, is the pedigree of coaches he's been groomed under. Not too sure about his play-calling experience, but I'm certain he's a coach who Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall would each love to have as their Head Coach, seeing how many describe him to be an absolute mirror image to his father. The biggest question: Will he leave his father with the Redskins, to take a HC job at such a young age?
Pete Carmichael Jr., OC, New Orleans Saints: This is a name I've been kicking around here for quite sometime, as he's a coach who knows how to work with QBs. His career began as an assistant OL coach with the University of New Hampshire in 1994, and bounced over to the Louisiana Tech University as the QBs coach from 1995-1999. His NFL career started with the Cleveland Browns in 2000 as the TEs coach, before getting bounced rather quickly to Washington as an offensive assistant in 2001. Then, destiny struck. In 2002, Pete Carmichael Jr. was hired with the San Diego Chargers as an offensive assistant, where he met Drew Brees. From then on, he developed a bond with Drew Brees that few ever witness between an assistant and his player. The 2 were brought together in 2006 with the New Orleans Saints, where Pete Carmichael Jr. was named the QB coach. He served in that role until 2009, as he was promoted to OC, and coincidentally, the Saints won the Super Bowl that year. In every year since 2009, the New Orleans Saints have been ranked as one of the top offenses in the entire NFL. Sean Payton deserves a lot of the credit, but not all of it. Following the notorious Bounty Scandal, Pete Carmichael Jr. took over all play-calling duties on offense, where they still had plenty of success, albeit a rather mixed bag according to a few Saints fans I spoke with. Still, he is a brilliant mind when it comes to offense, where throughout his entire career, he's worked with all but 1 of the positions on offense (RB). He has an extremely in-depth knowledge on offense, as well as some play-calling experience. A rather easy hire, should the Bears choose him.
Bill O'Brien, HC, Penn State: He's been said to be considering an interview with an NFL team, according to this link. This is someone who also ties in with Phil Emery's connections to the New England Patriots, as former Pats and current Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli still serves as an adviser to Phil Emery. Bill O'Brien served with the New England Patriots from 2007-2011, where he coached WRs (2008), and QBs (2009-2010), before being named the OC in 2011. He's "famous" for his chew-out of Tom Brady in the same year he was named OC, so right off the bat he doesn't care who you are, you will perform to his level. He was later selected for the HC job at Penn State, after, well you know..."that". I wasn't too impressed with his one year as a HC so far, but, he's definitely a passionate offensive minded coach who knows how to motivate his players.
Nick Saban, HC, Alabama Crimson Tide: He's perhaps the most referenced name when talking about a football coach, at any level of the game. His dominance in the SEC is legendary, something I know all too well about. He's set to take on Notre Dame for what could possibly become his 3rd championship in 4 years, and 4th overall at both LSU and Alabama. He's always been a punch-in-the-mouth tough coach, who preaches strong defense, and an offense that slams you in the grill with the running game. Alabama has produced more 1st round selections than any other college for the past couple of years now. And, he was a former NFL Head Coach, although he found far less success with the Dolphins than his empire of today. Nick Saban was rumored to be one of the coaches interviewed for the Bears' HC job way back in 2004, the same year Lovie Smith was hired. The one thing that sticks out to me, was when he walked away from the Dolphins in 2007, after serving the previous 2 years as the Head Coach for the 'Phins. He's got his own empire now in Tuscaloosa, and I seriously doubt he ever comes to the Bears, unless he's given complete control
Chip Kelly, HC, Oregon Ducks: One word to describe his collegiate success: Offense. Lots, and LOTS of offense. His game is all about speed and scoring points, so his views might also mesh well on Defense, which would be a very good thing. He's also had zero experience with the NFL. That, is by far my biggest concern with him. He would be such a fantastic offensive mind to land, but do we really want someone who's never competed against NFL talent and coaching?
Will Muschamp, HC, Florida Gators: If anyone knows about this guy, that would be me, and in saying that, would come at a complete surprise to me, as he too has no NFL experience. But, he is a disciple of Nick Saban, as he believes in a power running game as well as stingy defense. One thing I don't like, is he's already flipped between 2 different schemes on offense, in his 2 years as HC of the Florida Gators. He still has a long ways to go before he's deemed a worthy NFL Head Coach, IMO.
Other Possibilities (Not Linked Nor Confirmed):
Mike Zimmer, DC, Cincinnati Bengals: He's been a DC in the NFL since 2000 with the Dallas Cowboys. He's also known by Phil Emery, as the 2 worked together with the Atlanta Falcons back in 2007, in Zimmer's lone year with that franchise. SInce 2008, he's been coaching the Bengals Defense, who have made back-to-back playoff appearances the past 2 years. They are a very respected group in Cincy, as he's been coaching in a division featuring 2 of the top Defenses in the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. His group doesn't exactly have a lot of big names, but they perform exceptionally well as a team. That, is key to me. Seeing how his team is in the playoffs, we may not see an interview with him until they're done with the post-season. But, when that does happen, then I fully expect Phil Emery to set up an interview with him.
Jay Gruden, OC, Cincinnati Bengals: In just 2 years in the NFL, John Gruden's younger brother is already been bantered around as a "hot" name for any available HC position, seeing how he took an extremely young Bengals offense, kicked both Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocino Johnson to the curb, and just burned the scene down with his offense. Again, he's only had 2 years in the NFL, being his previous experience was with both the Arena League as well as the UFL, but he knows his football. He's a dark-horse name to consider.
Dirk Koetter, OC, Atlanta Falcons: He himself is currently a very popular name in the HC search around the league, as his offenses with both the Jacksonville Jaguars (2007-2011) and the Atlanta Falcons (Present) have been generally consistent with little talent, and absolutely scary with plenty of talent (Falcons). He turned David Garrard into a Pro Bowler, Marcedes Lewis into one of the better known TEs, and always had a tough running game with Fred Taylor as well as with Maurice Jones-Drew, all with the Jaguars. While with the Falcons, his offense has been unstoppable, helping Matt Ryan turning in an MVP caliber performance, and taking Julio Jones to the next level as a force at WR. He took the existing talent, and made Jacksonville look completely stupid as he finally had real talent to play with. Before you say "What about Lovie Smith?" what about him? He was fired for a ton of reasons, one being never able to put together talent that was drafted by a "questionable" GM in Jerry Angelo. Dirk Koetter, on the other hand, has. He's a very contested name around the NFL, and I will be surprised if Phil Emery doesn't use his connections with the Falcons, to set up an interview with Dirk Koetter. **Note, I am well aware that neither have worked together, but I'm saying Phil Emery was a member of the same franchise that employs Dirk Koetter, and I'm certain he could always give them a phone-call to inquire about Dirk Koetter**
Perry Fewell, DC, New York Giants: He once was the Bears' secondary coach under Lovie Smith, and he runs the same scheme with the Giants, one of which has managed to shut down two of the top QBs in the NFL, Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and Aaron Rodgers. If we want someone who knows how to beat Green Bay defensively, then he may be our best bet. Of course, Offense will come into inquiry by us fans, but being around the Giants should help in teaching him what an NFL offense, passing-wise at least, should look like.
Dave Toub, ST, Chicago Bears: Yes, our very own ST coordinator, has been a name in the NFL Head Coaching search the past few seasons. Phil Emery stated in today's press conference, that he hasn't ruled out interviewing Dave Toub for the Bears' Head Coaching job. His Special Teams, though, wasn't really special this year. But, he's still gotten quite a few Bears into the Pro Bowl for their work on Special Teams alone, with Devin Hester and Johnny Knox a pair of familiar names. He's been the most consistent coach on Lovie Smith's staff, and he's the only coordinator to have lasted all 9 seasons under Lovie Smith. He's still quite a stretch from being hired as the Bears' Head Coach, but he's not 100% out of the race, either.
The Retreads (Our Favorites!)
John Gruden, Chairman of the Fired Head Coaches Association: He has a fairly long history in the NFL, serving with the San Francisco 49ers as an assistant way back in 1990, before going to Mike Holmgreen and the Green Bay Packers as an offensive assistant and later a receivers coach from 1992-1994, then was named the Philidelphia Eagles' OC in 1995, where he served in that role until 1997, before being chosen by Al Davis to be the next Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. His Raiders were an extremely powerful group, turning journeyman QB Rich Gannon into an All-Pro. Then, in perhaps the oddest trade in NFL history, he was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 for their 2002 and 2003 1st round picks, 2002 and 2004 second-round picks, and $8 million in cash. He led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their 1st and only Super Bowl championship in 2003. Ever since 2003, he was inconsistent. In Oakland, he started 40-28 as a Head Coach, and when all was said and done, John Gruden was fired after a 9-7 season back in 2009, finishing 100-85-0 overall with a 95-81-0 mark in the regular season and a 5-4 mark in the post-season.
Andy Reid, Former HC, Philadelphia Eagles: His career in the NFL is long and very deep in offense, starting way back in 1992 in Green Bay as 1st an offensive assistant, then an OL coach, then as the QBs coach and passing game coordinator from 1992-1998. He was hired by the Eagles as the HC in 1999, and recently fired after 2 extremely disappointing years following the construction of the "Dream Team". Now, before I get into all the bashing, let it be known he's had an extremely tough year, losing his son in a very tragic death, and then having the entire Eagles' fanbase turn on him like they did on Santa Claus all those years ago. His recent decisions are what costed him his job, with the Eagles spending such a huge amount of money signing players like Michael Vick, Jason Babin, Nnamdi Asomuga, Cullen Jenkins, and trading for players like Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie and DeMeco Ryans, only to name former OL coach Juan Castillo as the DC, and have everything fall apart. His over-dependence on the passing game also killed any comeback story Michael Vick had in the NFL. Don't get me wrong, he's coach a ton of talented players, a list way too long to type out, but he's made just as long of a list in regards to questionable decisions. Overall, he's still had a lot of success, in by far the toughest place to coach an NFL team, and his current career is 129-88-1 in the regular season with a 10-9 mark in the post-season, and an overall record of 139-97-1.
Norv Turner, Former HC, San Diego Chargers: A coach who's been around for a long time, he's been to more cities than an average sailor (not good). In 1985, he was named the Los Angeles Rams' WRs coach, where he served that role from 1985-1990. In 1991, he was selected to be the OC for the Dallas Cowboys, and they won 2 Super Bowls with him as the OC from 1991-1993. Following 1993, he was named the Washington Redskins' Head Coach, and served that role from 1994-2000. He didn't have a lot of success, and was fired after the 2000 season. Looking for a quick bounce-back, he took the job as the OC for the San Diego Chargers for just 1 season in 2001, before getting picked up for the OC position with the Miami Dolphins, which lasted from 2002-2003. THEN, he served 2 years with the Oakland Raiders as their Head Coach from 2004-2005, before he got canned by Al Davis, and was sent packing back to San Fran, where he took the job with the San Francisco 49ers as the OC in 2006. Then, finally, he was hired as the Head Coach for the San Diego Chargers in 2007. He served with the Chargers from that point forward, until this past season, when he was fired yet again along with his GM in A.J. Smith. He's a classic example of a great OC, turned bad HC. Very bad HC. He has a record of 112-122-1 in the regular season, a 4-4 mark in the post-season, and an overall mark of 116-126-1.
Bill Cowher, Former HC, Pittsburgh Steelers: If any former HC would actually be an attractive candidate, then this is him. His career is perhaps the deepest you will ever find in the modern game with the NFL. His career started in 1985(!) with the then original Cleveland Browns as a Special Teams coach from 1985-1988. He was later hired as the DC for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989 as he served that role from then on through 1991, before he was selected as only the 2nd Head Coach of the Steelers since the merger in 1970. His shoes to fill, were those who belonged to one Chuck Noll, and he took the challenge head-on. Becoming the only other Head Coach besides one Paul Brown to meet this mark, he coached the Steelers to playoff appearances in each of his 6 seasons as Head Coach. Overall, he captured 8 division titles, made the playoffs 10 total times out of 15 years as a Head Coach, went on to 2 Super Bowls with 2 separate GMs, and won the Super Bowl in 2005. He retired after the following season in 2006, where he then began his career in the broadcasting booth with CBS. I do remember him discussing that the Bears would be a team he'd like to coach, but, he's also been anti-Jay Cutler, which will not bode well with Phil Emery. His mark, though, is undeniable, posting a 149-90-1 record in the regular season, with a 12-9 record in the playoffs, and an overall record of 161-99-1.
Mike Holmgren, Former HC and Team President, Green Bay Packers/Seattle Seahawks/Cleveland Browns: Whew! Mike Holmgren himself has been in the NFL a very long time himself, starting in 1986 as the QBs coach for the San Francisco 49ers, and staying with that franchise until 1991, where he finished out as the OC from 1989-1991. Legends were made the following year, as he was hired as the Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers, where he later on team up with none other than Brett Favre and made history together, appearing in the Super Bowl 2 straight years from 1996-1997, winning the earlier one against the New England Patriots. In 1998, he resigned and accepted an 8 year deal with the Seattle Seahawks to coach them. He would go on to do so from 1999-2008, earning one Super Bowl appearance, losing to Bill Cowher's Steelers in 2005. He's developed 3 well known QBs in Brett Favre, Matt Hasselback, and Kurt Warner. He was fired after a bad season in 2008, and took a break from football, before accepting the role as Team President of the Cleveland Browns in 2010. The results, were less than stellar, and he was fired just after 2 seasons. According to ESPN, he will listen to offers that will return him to coaching in the NFL. His current standings, are 161-111-0 in the regular season, 13-11 in the post-season, and 174-122-0 overall.
Brian Billick, Former HC, Baltimore Ravens: Here is our last candidate for this post, being how long it already is, and he's a name that will certainly be brought up by someone in the near future. He worked for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-1998, with his 1st 2 seasons coaching TEs, then calling plays as the OC from 1994-1998. After having relative success for 4 consecutive seasons with the Vikings, he was hired as the Baltimore Ravens' Head Coach, where he would coach in that role from 1999-2007. He won a Super Bowl in his 2nd year as the HC, although that game was won with a defense that made ours look pedestrian. His biggest misconception as a HC, was despite being an Offensive minded HC, his offenses were nothing of any true worth. Rather, it was defense that paved the way for success, and not Trent Dilfer. He was fired after the 2007 season, and has since been an analyst. Rumors are he's interested in coaching again, but well, I've found nothing substantial to support those rumors.
Well, that's it for now folks. As per usual, feel free to mention names you felt I left out in this epic post, one I hope doesn't need to be copied and edited for future use, any time soon. I believe we all can agree, that Phil Emery is dead serious in finding the best Head Coach for the job, and I really can't wait to see what he has in store for everyone in Bears Nation. Bear Down, and have at it everybody!
(Coming soon: FA Extravaganza!)