When a team vastly improves from being basement dwellers, to becoming major playoff contenders, teams in both the collegiate and pro levels will surely notice. So much so, that there’s always a chance multiple coaching assistants will be lost to teams in need of a new head coach. It comes with the territory of being a winning football team.
In the case of the Chicago Bears, two names have been mentioned repeatedly: Vic Fangio; and Mark Helfrich. Both of these gentlemen have earned their respective opportunities.
Starting with the obvious, Vic Fangio has excelled as the Bears’ defensive coordinator these past four seasons. He inherited a unit coming off from the franchise’s worst season in history, and after some time along with a rebuilt depth chart, he’s coached them into the monsters we see today. In all, Fangio has been coaching football since 1979, both in college and the NFL. It’s worth mentioning he interviewed for the Bears’ job this past offseason prior to Matt Nagy’s arrival, too.
Fangio has not been directly linked to any formal reports in regards to potential openings quite yet. More or less, his name has been mentioned by various commentators and analysts around the NFL. His most vocal supporter, in my opinion, has been Louis Riddick of ESPN.
Vic Fangio better be on the HC interview circuit this winter.— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) November 21, 2018
It won’t surprise me whatsoever if Vic eventually receives multiple requests for interviews. Meanwhile, Mark Helfrich has been linked to at least one job opening in college already. The Bears’ offensive coordinator was recently identified as a candidate to the University of Colorado’s vacancy at head coach. The original report is from Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.
I'm hearing Colorado athletic director Rick George wants a recognizable name with previous head-coaching experience. Possible candidates include Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, former Oregon coach and Chicago Bears... https://t.co/eglXWmqz0G— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) November 18, 2018
Helfrich is currently in his first year as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, but he served as a head coach at Oregon for four seasons following Chip Kelly’s departure from their program. His tenure at Oregon was highlighted with an appearance at the inaugural College Football Championship Game in 2014. That team was led by his Heisman Trophy winning quarterback in Marcus Mariota. The work he’s done along with Dave Ragone and head coach Matt Nagy in developing the young Mitchell Trubisky has also garnered attention.
The hope is both of these coaches remain with the Bears long after the 2018 season. Yet, in the event that either candidate earns an offer to be a head coach elsewhere, there are quality candidates to fill in for both the defensive and offensive coordinator jobs. It’s never too early to look ahead on that subject.
Potential Candidates for the defensive coordinator job
As a disclaimer, all of these suggestions are 1) hypothetical and 2) contingent on if either coach does indeed move on for a promotion. With that mentioned, the defensive coordinator position would by far be the bigger priority, given that Matt Nagy controls the play calling on offense. They’ll need someone with experience calling plays on defense, and one that can handle the pressure of coaching a star studded unit.
The first name that comes to my mind: Todd Bowles. It’s fairly reasonable to suggest his career with the New York Jets will be coming to an end soon. Not only does he have experience calling plays on defense, he did an incredible job with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals. The biggest detail to discuss with Bowles, is his relationship with Matt Nagy; the two are fairly close friends. Bowles wanted to hire Matt Nagy for his offensive coordinator position a few years back, yet it just didn’t pan out.
If Fangio moves on, and Bowles is relieved of his duties in New York, I’d bet my money that Bowles would get the Bears’ defensive coordinator job. Otherwise, I would expect for Matt Nagy to look into promoting someone on his staff first, before looking externally. That is a trait of which has been displayed by coaches mentored under Andy Reid.
Potential Candidates for the offensive coordinator job
As I mentioned earlier, this vacancy would be simpler to fill, provided Matt Nagy continues to call the plays himself. I also feel this is the more likely of the two jobs to be opened, as there will be plenty of opportunities available for Helfrich in the collegiate level, if that is his desire. Like the hiring of Helfrich, I feel the Bears will look into that same collegiate pool for his successor, if they don’t feel comfortable with promoting anyone on their staff.
One name that everybody wants to see as their team’s offensive coordinator is Kliff Kingsbury. He’s been fired from Texas Tech’s head coaching position after two consecutive seasons filled with disappointment. His Air-Raid offense, on the other hand, is anything but disappointing. The fact he coached both Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes will surely make him a hot name in any coaching circle. If Matt Nagy were to bring Kingsbury on board and meshed their offensive minds together....good grief.
Another name that would be less popular with fans — myself included — which could warrant some attention, would be Larry Fedora. The former head coach of North Carolina has, also, been relieved of his duties as head coach. One reason why I believe he would at least be considered, if not interviewed, is his experience with Mitchell Trubisky. Of course, it’s also been speculated that neither Trubisky nor Fedora saw each other eye-to-eye at Chapel Hill. Whether that’s true or not should be discussed if this opening actually does happen.
Whatever happens after this magical season in Chicago is completely up in the air. Again, I hope to see all the coaches return for 2019 and beyond. Yet, we cannot overlook the fact that members of this staff have earned their chance at a top coaching position of their choice. It’s, sometimes, a good problem to have.