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Bears head coach roundtable: The top quality

The Bears are looking for a new sideline leader. We are also looking for something specific in that person.

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The Bears are looking for a new head coach after the firing of Matt Nagy. Whoever is hired will be the fourth head coach since Lovie Smith’s ouster in 2012, pointing to a severe but familiar lack of stability and cohesion at Halas Hall.

Over the next week, as news of interview requests pile in, the Windy City Gridiron staff will diagram exactly what each of us wants out of the next person to wear the top headset on the Soldier Field sideline. And, of course, we’ll reveal who we want that person to be.

Today’s question centers on the next Bears head coach's primary characteristic.

Is it a legitimate offensive scheming ability? What about leadership and the ability to delegate and learn from mistakes on the fly? All of the above? Dive in and find out.


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What is the No. 1 quality you want to see in the next Bears head coach?

Robert Zeglinski: Give me the intelligent CEO. The person who not only knows how to delegate but does so regularly. The person who understands football inside and out and is more a manager of the operation than someone that insists on being involved in minute egotistical aspects like, say, playcalling. There are a lot of moving parts on an NFL team. This person has to make sure they all fit in the right place, without fail.

Erik Duerrwaechter: It’s a three-way tie between accountability, leadership, and flexibility. To me, you must possess all three of those qualities in spades to have meaningful success. I’m not the person who’s going to be excited about any glossy resume you’d put on my desk. I want to see who you are behind the resume.

The most significant issues with Matt Nagy were his lack of self-accountability and a serious lack of flexibility. He didn’t want to adjust his philosophies, play calls, or strategies to the players on his roster. He was reluctant to change even the smallest details until the situation forced his hand. And all we got since 2019 were excuses served on top of word salads. The next head coach must adjust their schemes, philosophies, and strategies to the players and opponents. Place your players in a position for success and make the players the stars. Not your playcalling.

Josh Sunderbruch: I would love to see a capable defensive-minded head coach partnered with an offensive coordinator looking to prove himself by working with Justin Fields and making him click. I don’t want an offensive guy who “knows” his system works already—ideally, a Lovie Smith-type who has updated to the modern NFL.

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Sam Householder: A vision, and I don’t mean buzzwords and big talk. I want someone who comes from a proven system with a built culture of sustained success. It’s not something tangible, and that’s what makes it difficult, but I’m tired of the “steady, confident retread” or the “he comes from this system and is the next so-and-so.”

Aaron Leming: A well-rounded coach that can put together a good staff around him. So often, fans and teams clamor for the sexy name at whatever side of the ball their team struggles with the most. Yet, it’s more about what type of staff the head coach can put around them and how they are as a field general. Coordinator success isn’t a direct indicator of how a head coach will do, which is why it’s critical to find someone who knows how to be a quality leader over simply focusing on one side of the ball. History has shown that the battle between offensive and defensive coaches isn’t where the issue lies. It’s about getting the right guy, regardless of which side of the ball they coached as a coordinator.

Jack Silverstein: Foundational principles. As I wrote in 2017, there are generally three paths to being a Super Bowl head coach (first-time head coach after NFL assistant coaching career; second-time NFL head coach who did not win a Super Bowl as a head coach; college coach), and there is no playbook on whether the coach should have a background on offense, defense or special teams. I believe that the best coaches follow foundational principles that are not tied to the scheme, personnel, or a specific side of the ball. They should be leaders, delegators, motivators, and indeed masters of football, but not bound to any one set of Xs and Os or team identity.

I always think of Brian Billick, the offensive coordinator of one of the greatest offenses ever, which got him the Ravens job. He then won a Super Bowl with one of the greatest defenses ever and an offense that went five straight weeks without a touchdown. I also think of Bill Belichick, whose success comes from his willingness to counter league trends. Look at what he said a few years back about how the team decided to go from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and back to a 4-3. If the league trend is a 4-3, you go to a 3-4 because you’re no longer fighting with everyone over personnel. You have the run of the place on nose tackles and pass-rushing linebackers. When the league started to shift to a 3-4, he moved back to a 4-3.

Scheme, personnel, plays — there is no one way to win in the NFL. What matters are foundational principles that can be applied similarly to any system or personnel.

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Jack R. Salo: Offense. The essential thing for the Bears to become a contender is a towering offense that can stay on the field, score 30-plus regularly, and lead game-winning drives. Enough with expensive defenses chasing past success. Put the guys in a position to score.

Ken Mitchell: I want a coach with the ability to develop a 2020s era offense using Justin Fields as the centerpiece.