John Fox lost his job even before the 49ers game with his loss to the Rodgers-less Packers, a team that got shut-out by the Ravens a week later. He sealed his fate the Sunday after with a loss to the Lions which dropped him to 3-13 against divisional opponents in his time coaching the Bears (one win apiece against the Vikings, Lions and Packers). This has led to rampant speculation about the next head coach of the Chicago Bears, one who must be picked from a seemingly weak crop of candidates.
The criteria for the next coach is simple. They must be a fairly young, offensive mind getting their first shot at coaching in the league. The only former head-coach most Bears fans would accept is Jim Harbaugh, but its unlikely that he will leave his $9 million salary at Michigan, his alma-mater, to coach the Bears, even if they are the team that drafted him. So lets look at the most likely candidate, one who has flown under the radar in recent years.
I can say, with 100% certainty, that the next head coach of the Chicago Bears will be Pete Carmichael Jr.. Believe it or not, Carmichael interviewed for the head-coaching job in 2013 before Phil Emery chose to hire Marc Trestman. Carmichael is the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, and at 46 years old, with no real head-coaching experience. Carmichael became the Saints OC in 2009, and his offense has finished in the top 10 for the last 10 years, a streak that coincides with Carmichael and Payton’s time on the staff. In 2011, after a leg injury to Sean Payton, Carmichael took over play-calling duties for the first time, leading the Saints offense to a prolific season, setting NFL records in net passing yardage (5,347), first downs (416), net yardage (7,474), completion percentage (71.3%), third down conversion rate (56.7%) and fewest fumbles (6). They also led the league in third down conversions (118) and finished with 547 points, the fourth-highest total in NFL history. Since then, Carmichael has experienced consistent success as the play-caller, ranking 2nd, 4th, 1st and 2nd in the league in total offense from 2012-2015.
But Carmichael has had significant success for an extended amount of time, so why should he be the Bears next head coach. There are numerous reasons for this, among them the weak crop of potential head coaches fitting the Bears criteria, but the most important reason is because of the Saints dominance in an offense which has similar type players to the Bears. The Saints running game this season has been prolific, with both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara on pace for over 3000 yards from scrimmage, while Ingram is 4th in the league in rushing yards (one spot behind Howard). This dominance of the Saints running game with Carmichael calling plays could easily transfer to Chicago, where Jordan Howard is a better version of Mark Ingram, and Tarik Cohen has similar traits to Alvin Kamara. On top of this, Carmichael has shown the ability to effectively utilize tight-ends in the past, helping to contribute to the explosive career of Jimmy Graham, a gifted tight-end who has similarities to the massive Adam Shaheen. Ryan Pace also compared Trubisky with Drew Brees, a player he worked with extensively in New Orleans. Carmichael’s ability to bring out the most in Brees, a future hall of famer, could also translate to Trubisky.
Finally, the other reason that Carmichael, already a great head-coaching candidate, stands out for the Bears is due to his established rapport with Pace and Sean Payton. Payton has referred to both Pace and Carmichael as behind the scenes people who contribute greatly to the success of the Saints organization, and Carmichael and Pace worked together during Pace’s time in NOLA. This connection should make Carmichael a no-brainer candidate in a head-coaching crop with no Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan or Adam Gase.
Overall, due to Carmichael’s coaching success and his connection with Pace, he is an obvious candidate to be the next head coach of the Chicago Bears.