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Adding Fewell to the Fire

32-21-2, the Chicago Bears all time win-loss-tie record against the New York Giants. Though the two teams will not see each other on the field until next season, they are currently competing for what may be an even bigger prize than a game victory; free agent defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.

With teams in need of a defensive coordinator (DC) already hiring their top candidates, the list of top tier DC’s is starting to dwindle. That makes the competition between the Bears and Giants that much more important. Both teams have built a strong reputation for being defensive football teams. Adding Fewell to an already defensive minded franchise could be just what these two teams need to return to the playoffs.

Fewell interviewed with the Giants last week, and visited Halas Hall this Monday in hopes of receiving an offer from both teams in the near future. He has also interviewed with the Buffalo Bills for their head coaching vacancy after finishing this season as Buffalo’s interim head coach. The Bills are still bringing in candidates for their vacancy, so the real position for Fewell seems to be with the Bears or Giants.

So who has the edge? Fewell has ties to both Bears head coach Lovie Smith and Giants front man Tom Coughlin.

Before joining the Bills four years ago, Fewell was the secondary coach for the Bears, and before that, he held the same position for the St. Louis Rams. In each of those coaching stints, Fewell would be looking up the coaching tree at Smith. Sharing years and two cities together, Fewell and Smith would built a friendship beyond the gridiron.

Prior to joining the Rams, it was Coughlin who would give Fewell his first shot in the NFL while with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 1998, Coughlin was three years into his coaching stint with the new expansion Jags and decided to bring in a little known defensive backs coach from Vanderbilt University. It seemed to work out for all parties involved.

With the relationships that have been built with both Smith and Coughlin, it seems Fewell’s decision will be based on more than just friendship and career ties.

When looking over the defensive rosters for each club, it’s hard to decipher which team has the edge in overall player talent. The only defensive Pro Bowl selection for either team this season is Bears outside linebacker Lance Briggs.

At the start of the season, both teams figured to be in the upper echelon of team defense. Injuries played a big role in both teams’ demise. Defensive line and secondary injury issues caused both teams to slip in defensive and team standings. However, both squads stand to benefit next season with the return of middle linebackers and defensive captains Brian Urlacher and Antonio Pierce.

Though the talent level on both sides may be even, the Bears have the edge in player/coach familiarity. Eight defensive players on the current Bears roster were around in '05 when Fewell was helping to lead the group to the 2nd ranked NFC defense.

The defensive scheme used by the Bears may also give them the edge in the Fewell sweepstakes. During his tenure as DC in Buffalo, Fewell implored the same defensive philosophy that he learned in Chicago. He might be enticed by the opportunity to add his own flavor to a stale scheme that he is already familiar with.

Whichever way Fewell decides to go, he must be basking in the moment. Two of the NFL’s most popular franchises are treating him like the prettiest girl in school and are trying to woo his affection. We can only hope he doesn’t act like the prettiest girl in school and toy with our emotions. That being said, he probably will act like the prettiest girl and side with whomever flashes the most cash.

Wonder if former Bears head coach and defensive minded Dick Jauron still owns a home in the Chicago area? Just saying…….