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After three seasons of futility and frustration, the John Fox era has come to an end. On this New Years Day of 2018, we Bears fans are celebrating the arrival of both a new calendar year, and a new age in regards to the coaching staff. As Bears GM Ryan Pace now begins his search for the 16th Head Coach in the Bears' franchise history, he reportedly will covet candidates that have an extensive background with developing QBs. His top objective will be to hire a staff that will place Mitchell Trubisky in a position to succeed as the franchise QB. With that said, they should not limit their options to just Offensive Coordinators/QB coaches, but instead cast a wide net and simply hire the best man for the job.
Without further adieu, let us commence with the craziness!
Pete Carmichael Jr. - Offensive Coordinator - New Orleans Saints: Almost immediately after the "Fire Fox" train picked up serious steam, it was mentioned by Ian Rapoport that the Bears are likely to at least look into this potential candidate from the Big Easy. And, considering all the factors involved, this move would make a ton of logical sense. Since 1994, Carmichael has coached on the offensive side of the ball, starting with TEs at New Hampshire. Throughout his career, he's coached several different positions, including: TEs (New Hampshire, Cleveland); QBs (Lousiana Tech, New Orleans); and WRs (San Diego). It wasn't until 2009 when he would receive his first opportunity as an Offensive Coordinator, but ever since he took over the position, the Saints have been one of the most dominant offenses in the league. In addition to winning the Super Bowl in 2009, their offenses have finished ranked #1 overall in the league in five of his past ten years with the franchise. It also helps that Ryan Pace has known Carmichael since 2006, when he was brought aboard as the QBs coach.
Dave Toub - Special Teams Coordinator - Kansas City Chiefs: During one of the many chats Benjamin Albright had with the fans, he stated that Toub is the top name of the Bears' candidate lists. We Bears fans have long awaited this day, as he's been ready to become a Head Coach for quite some time. From 2004 to 2012, he served as the Bears' STC, where he helped the team to it's only other Super Bowl appearance since the merger in 2006. His ability to coach the best out of his players has been noted, and he's achieved similar results of greatness while with the Chiefs. He also interviewed for the Bears' job in 2013, and is currently a hot name for the Indianapolis Colts job.
Vic Fangio - Defensive Coordinator - Chicago Bears: The likelihood of this hire is fairly low, yet it's not completely out of the question. Since taking over for the Bears' DC job in 2015, there has been a substantial improvement in their overall play, with the team finishing within the top ten in total defense in 2017. He's well established within the league, having coached on the defensive side of the ball since 1979. And, Ian Rapoport thinks that Fangio might receive a look from the Bears as an internal candidate.
Jim Harbaugh - Head Coach - Michigan: Here is the big fish of the coaching search this offseason. In 1987, he was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears to become their next franchise QB. His tenure with the Bears lasted until 1993. He has a pretty extensive amount of experience as a coach, beginning his career with the Oakland Raiders as a QBs coach in 2002. His first opportunity as a head coach was earned in 2007 with Stanford, where he would coach a large amount of players that eventually were drafted by the NFL. Later, he would be hired by the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, where he won Coach of the Year. Harbaugh's first three seasons in San Fran resulted in appearances to the NFC Championship Game, and had his first Super Bowl appearance in 2012. In every organization he's been involved as the head coach, he's held a winning record. And, he's been linked to the Bears via a variety of rumors, including this one from NBC Sports. With all of the pleasantries exchanged, he will be a very tough candidate to hire. It will almost certainly take 1) a lot of money and 2) a lot of power to coax him out of his alma mater.
Steve Wilks - Defensive Coordinator - Carolina Panthers: The first surprise candidate on the list. Just moments ago, Brad Biggs tweeted that the Bears have requested permission to interview Wilks for their Head Coaching vacancy. Where he's definitely a defense-oriented candidate, he's worth considering for a head coaching job. In fact, he's been a head coach once already, serving that position with Savannah State in 1999. More recently, he's been in the NFL as an assistant, starting with the Redskins as their secondaries coach in 2005. He's also had a stint in Chicago as the DBs coach under Lovie Smith, from 2006 through 2008. He would then move on to the same position with the Chargers in 2009, before settling in with the Panthers in 2012. Eventually, he was promoted to DC in 2017 after McDermott left to take over for the Bills as their HC.
Ron Rivera - Head Coach - Carolina Panthers: Yes, you read this correctly. According to Ian Rapoport, the Bears are likely monitoring his situation as new ownership eventually takes over for the Panthers. Once again, we also have a member of the 2006 Chicago Bears' coaching staff under consideration for the head job, this time the DC of that unit. He's also had three different stints with the Bears, including as a player (1984-1992), defensive quality control coach (1997 - 1998), and as their DC (2004 - 2006). Many people, myself included, believe it was a huge mistake for Lovie Smith to have abruptly fired Rivera following their loss in Super Bowl XLI. He's gone on to have great careers with the Chargers and the Panthers, with a Super Bowl appearance in 2015. In addition, Rivera was named Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015.
*Edit - New Candidate Added on 1/3/2018*
George Edwards - Defensive Coordinator - Minnesota Vikings: Ryan Pace wasn't kidding when he made a statement saying that he's not limiting his options to just the offensive side of the ball. Edwards has been coaching football since 1991, when he was hired by Florida as an assistant (defense). His specialty is LBs, with a year of coaching DL at Georgia as well. He's held the DC position with four different organizations, including the Redskins (2003), Florida Gators (2010), Bills (2010-2011), and currently the Vikings. Where he did have an incident with the law last year, it's been mentioned from both fans and local writers covering the Vikings that he's been on his best behavior. The work he's accomplished with the Vikings cannot be ignored, and he's highly respected around the league. The Bears will be interviewing George Edwards this week for their HC job.
Names to Watch:
Frank Reich - Offensive Coordinator - Philadelphia Eagles: He's a relatively new coach, having started as an offensive assistant in 2008 with the Indianapolis Colts. In his career, he's coached QBs and WRs while with the Colts, Cardinals, and Chargers. In 2014, he was promoted to OC in San Diego, then relieved of his duties after the 2015 season. Since landing with the Eagles, he's rebounded quite nicely, with the Eagles putting on a show with their 3rd ranked offense in 2017. It's also worth mentioning that as a QB, he led two of the biggest comebacks in football history.
John DeFilippo - Quarterbacks Coach - Philadelphia Eagles: If you're looking for someone with an extensive history of coaching QBs, then here's a name to consider. Dating back to the year 2000, he's coached the QB position, starting with Fordam University. In the NFL, he's coached the position with the Giants (2005-2006), Raiders (2007-2008; 2012-2014), Jets (2009), Browns (2015), and the Eagles (2016 - Present).
Update - Several sources are reporting that the Bears are interviewing DeFilippo for their HC job sometime this week. In accordance to league policy, such a meeting can happen since the Eagles are on their bye.
Matt Nagy - Offensive Coordinator - Kansas City Chiefs: Another young coach in the NFL, his career began with the Eagles as an intern back in 2008, where he quickly ascended through the ranks. By 2013, he was hired by Andy Reid to be his QBs coach, and was promoted to OC in 2016. During the 2017 season, the Chiefs finished within the top ten of every statistical category on offense, and have done this while being extremely balanced between the running game and passing game. There was plenty of buzz on Twitter recently about Nagy wanting to coach Trubisky, but I couldn't find a solid enough source to include him in the "rumored" list.
Update - Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the Bears are scheduling an interview with Nagy for their HC job.
Matt LaFleur - Offensive Coordinator - Los Angeles Rams: A year ago, the LA Rams made NFL history by hiring Sean McVay as the youngest head coach in NFL history. This offseason, the Bears could make a hire which comes fairly close to that record, in the form of LaFleur. Having started his career in the NFL with the Texans in 2008, he's seen his fair share of success with QBs. In fact, every team that he's been a part of, has had their QBs named at least an alternate to the Pro Bowl. Matt Ryan's best season of his career came in 2016, where he won the league MVP while LaFleur served as the QB coach. In his first season as an OC for the Rams in 2017, they finished the regular season ranked #1 in scoring per game, after finishing dead last in 2016.
Matt Patricia - Defensive Coordinator - New England Patriots: He's one of the few defense-background candidates under consideration, as his name has already been a hot commodity in coaching searches. His resume is quite outstanding, having started his career with the Patriots in 2004 as an offensive assistant. During his career, he's been a part of three Super Bowl Championship seasons (2004, 2014, 2016). Yes, his defense took a substantial step backwards in 2017, but let's not allow for one season to change an otherwise brilliant career. For all the former coordinators under Belichick's tree, Patricia might very well be his most qualified to be hired as a Head Coach.
Josh McDaniels - Offensive Coordinator & QBs Coach - New England Patriots: Teams around the NFL have pursued McDaniels since he was fired from his first Head Coaching stint with the Broncos, back in 2010. Where his first head coaching stint was largely unsuccessful, and filled with controversy, he's likely learned from his experiences and has fixed his philosophies. After all, he's won five Super Bowl Championships as an assistant/coordinator on New England's staff (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016). While he's served as a coordinator, his offenses have normally ranked within the top ten in most statistical categories.
Update - Sources are stating the Bears have requested to interview with McDaniels for the job.
Pat Shurmer - Offensive Coordinator - Minnesota Vikings: Shurmer has a lengthy history of coaching on offense, beginning his career with Michigan State as a graduate assistant (offense). While he hasn't achieved elite success quite as frequently as some of the other candidates on this list, his performances have been respectable and consistent. He's already had two stints as a Head Coach under his belt, with the Cleveland Browns in 2011, and as an interim HC for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015. The work he's done for the Vikings since he took over as the OC during the 2016 regular season, is nothing short of extraordinary. If there's one person who's been able to achieve success despite being dealt a bad hand, Shurmer is certainly towards the top of that list.
Update - Sources are stating the Bears have requested to interview Shurmer for the job.
David Shaw - Head Coach - Stanford: Again, we have a candidate that has a background in both college and the NFL. Primarily, he coached QBs and WRs while with the Eagles (1997), Raiders (1998-2001), Ravens (2002-2005), and Chargers (2006). Interestingly enough, he's also coached OLBs in his career, back when he first started coaching at Western Washington in 1995. Shaw left the NFL for a chance to coach his alma mater in 2007 as an OC, and was promoted to the position of HC in 2011 after Harbaugh left for the 49ers. Ever since he was promoted, he's set the record for the most wins by any head coach in Stanford's history (73) and currently has three Pac-12 conference championships under his belt.
The Retreads (and unlikely):
Jack Del Rio - Former Head Coach - Oakland (soon Las Vegas) Raiders: After being ran over by the John Gruden Express, Del Rio became a surprise firing prior to the official start of Black Monday. His coaching career has been inconsistent, with his biggest highlight being a Super Bowl Championship with the Ravens in the year 2000, and plenty of lowlights in between his many stops. However, the work he accomplished with the Jaguars and Raiders is rather respectable, and he wouldn't be the worst candidate on the list.
Jim Caldwell - Former Head Coach - Detroit Lions: Despite finishing the season 9-7 in 2017, the Lions' management handed him his pink slip after failing to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Yet, one cannot overlook the amount of success and experience he's had on the offensive side of the ball. His career started all the way back in 1977 as a graduate assistant (offense) for Iowa. He's coached QBs, WRs, and served as an OC for NFL teams like the Buccaneers (2001), Colts (2002 - 2008), and Ravens (2012 - 2013). And, of course he's been the HC of two teams, the Colts (2009 - 2011) and the Lions (2014 - 2017). His highlights are a pair of Super Bowl Championships, one with the Colts in 2006 (bah humbug!) and 2012 with the Ravens.
Jim Schwartz - Defensive Coordinator - Philadelphia Eagles: He's already a lead candidate for the Giants' job, and his expertise on defense is nothing short of elite. Throughout his entire career as an assistant, the defenses he's coordinated have ranked in the top half of the league, and had quite a few appearances in the top ten. Some would say he was placed in a position to fail while with the Lions as their Head Coach, but I also doubt that he's a fit for what Ryan Pace is searching for.
Jeff Fisher - Former Head Coach - Rams: My complete thoughts on this possibility, expressed in the form of a video.
Alright Bears fans, that's quite a fine and large list of candidates assembled. However, if you feel I've missed somebody, feel free to comment. And, out of this current list, who do you want to be hired? Sound off in the comments section below.