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Pace's first task could prove his toughest

Last week the Bears nailed down the man to lead the latest rebuild of the franchise. This week, as the coaching dominoes start to fall around the league, the next coach should come into focus for the franchise. But who is up for the job?

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The Bears coaching search enters its third week today and while at first that may seem excessive, it really is not.

Looking around the NFL, of the six head coaching vacancies the first was only filled yesterday (and will be official today; Rex Ryan to the Bills) and one other team (the Jets) still needs a general manager as well as a coach.

These openings take time but this is the week when teams really start getting their new skippers in order. Teams would like to have their head coach in place before the all-star game circuit, which begins Saturday with the East-West Shrine game. Most reports say that they really, really want to have their new coach at the Senior Bowl, which is Jan. 24. Either way, things need to start coming together.

The Bears coaching search took another hit last night when, just hours after it was reported that the Bears would make a major push for Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, the dream was killed when Kubiak himself announced he was staying with the team.

In his introductory press conference, wunderkind Ryan Pace said that finding the right head coach was the most important thing for turning the franchise around.

But with many analysts saying that this year's pool of candidates is especially weak and with some of the best candidates taking themselves out of the race, who is going to be left?

It is going to matter even more for Pace and consultant Ernie Accorsi and George McCaskey and Ted Phillips to do their due diligence and make the right choice. Maybe Pace is afforded the luxury of getting to pick a second head coach, something his predecessor was denied, but he still needs to nail this. When that is the task that is emphasized as the most crucial part of your plan, pressure and expectations are going to follow.

Candidates with experience that are still out there include Mike Shanahan, Doug Marrone, Jack Del Rio and Josh McDaniels. Going the coordinator route again would lead Pace to guys like Todd Bowles, Adam Gase, Dan Quinn, Teryl Austin and Darrell Bevell. Keep in mind that McDaniels, Bevell and McDaniels could all be non-options based solely on the fact that their teams are in the conference championship games Sunday and the soonest they could be interviewed again and introduced is next week.

For what it's worth, Jason Garrett is now a coaching free agent. But he's spent nearly his entire career working with Jerry Jones and it seems like he'd be hard pressed to leave and possibly only flirt with other teams to make Jerry Jones pony up more.

There aren't a whole lot of candidates left who have a wow factor or really make a fan base excited. But its up to Pace to get through the B.S. and find the guy who can turn the franchise around and who has a similar vision to his own.

Do you think the Bears can find that guy? Does it concern you as a fan that the best GM and coaching candidates have said no to Chicago?