I will admit. I’m nervous about typing this list out... there’s a very solid chance more requests will be submitted by the time this gets published. If that happens, I’ll have a part two published in the near future.
The Chicago Bears’ GM job already features 12(!) confirmed interview requests while their head coaching search is currently at 9 known candidates. Since this list hasn’t seen any real updates since Wednesday, now is a good time to review all the names revealed to the public.
I’ll also throw in a candidate of my own.. and one that should NOT be considered. At all.
The Known Candidates
Brian Flores - Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach (link)
There’s a lot to cover with this one...
His recent departure from the Miami Dolphins was abrupt. To say the least; moreover, he was let go despite posting a winning record in consecutive seasons. The last head coach to post consecutive winning seasons with the Miami Dolphins was... former Chicago Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt. From 2000 to 2003 the Miami Dolphins went 11-5; 11-5; 9-7; and 10-6. They failed to post consecutive winning seasons until Brian Flores went 10-6 and 9-8 from 2020 through 2021.
Flores’s overall record with the Dolphins concluded at 24-25. His first season was considered an over-achievement despite going 5-11, as that team looked the part of a squad tanking for a higher draft pick. I’m not a believer of tanking, and allegedly neither was Brian Flores - he’s extremely competitive and does not tolerate the thought of losing. Their first season netted them the 5th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, which became QB Tua Tagovailoa. They failed to reach the playoffs the following two seasons. They also missed by the slimmest of margins.
The Bears’ brass was impressed by Matt Nagy surviving a 6-game losing streak in 2020. Well how about this: Brian Flores suffered a 7-game losing streak, only to win their next 8 consecutive games? Not one coach has ever achieved that in NFL history. He may not have the most approachable demeanor or attitude. But, he wins games. That’s something we can’t deny.
Brian Flores is a sound defensive mind and a 4-time Super Bowl champion with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. He started coaching at Boston College in 2003 as a grad assistant. Eventually, he opted to take a break from coaching, and entered the scouting world as an exec with the Patriots in 2004. Flores returned to coaching as an assistant on Special Teams in 2008. After moving up in the coaching ranks for the next few seasons, the Miami Dolphins hired Brian Flores in 2019 as their latest head coach.
The reasons for his abrupt firing have ranged between a few significant issues. One hot topic is his apparent relationship with Tua Tagovailoa soured quickly. It reached a point where, depending on which sources you believe, there were regular shouting matches and curse-outs between one another. His revolving door at offensive coordinator did not help his situation at all. Three years, three different play callers on offense, and several O-line coaches too.
Flores’s relationship with current GM Chris Grier also went downhill, with the now former Dolphins head coach apparently wanting his GM to get a new QB ASAP. It’s never a good idea to piss off your boss. I will say his handling of the transition between QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovaiola was poorly executed.
This is a potential hire that I’m on the fence with.
Unlike his former failed counterparts from New England — cough cough Josh McDaniels cough cough — he actually sustained superior success for more than one season. Everyone else hired from New England flamed out in epic fashion. There are no more former Patriot assistants holding head coaching titles as of today. I feel that will change quickly given the Houston Texans’ inexplicable firing of David Culley after just one season.
The reports out of Miami regarding his conduct are pretty severe. Ultimately, we only know one side of the story with Flores. If he learns from his mistakes in Miami and presents himself in a much better light, he could have instant success in Chicago. And he absolutely LOVED Justin Fields when the two teams held joint practices this past Preseason.
Dan Quinn - Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator and former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach (link)
Where Brian Flores was fired due to a variety of reasons, Dan Quinn’s termination is much simpler to explain. It came as a result of seeing his Atlanta Falcons on the decline since giving up the 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI. That meme will follow Dan Quinn for the rest of his career. Still, he ended his first stint as a head coach with a respectable 46-44 record. Including his 3-2 postseason record.
The long-time stalwart on defense began his coaching career in 1994 at William & Mary. His jump to the NFL was in 2001 as a defense quality control coach under Steve Marucci. Quinn made various stops between the San Francisco 49ers; Miami Dolphins; New York Jets; and Seattle Seahawks before returning to the NCAA with (my) Florida Gators in 2011 for his first gig as a defensive coordinator.
I will sit here and type out his defense at Florida was insane. Their performance between 2011 and 2012 attracted the eyes of NFL coaches. In 2012, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll made the phone call to bring Dan Quinn onboard as his DC. From 2013 to 2014 we witnessed the rise of the Legion of Boom. Their 2013 season concluded with a Super Bowl championship over the Denver Broncos at SB XLVIII. Their 2014 season concluded with a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots at SB XLIX.
Arthur Blank was hooked. In 2015 he hired Dan Quinn to be his Head Coach on a team he expected to compete for a Super Bowl relatively soon. By 2016, Arthur Blank got his wish, although the end result wasn’t one that’s remembered as a good time for Falcons fans. Unfortunately for Dan Quinn, his final 3 seasons in Atlanta ended with losing records. He was fired alongside GM Thomas Dimitroff in spring of 2021.
Which brings us to his current job as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. Remember how bad this unit was in 2020? He’s taken what was a clown show, and coached them up to a championship caliber squad. Micah Parsons in particular has taken the league by storm in only his rookie season. You give him the Bears’ monsters on defense, and that’ll be a dominant unit.
Say what you want about Dan Quinn. There aren’t a lot of coaches available on the open market who went to at least one Super Bowl and own a winning record. He’s not my favorite on this list. Yet we can’t ignore someone who holds an actual track record of being a successful head coach. He could be a re-tread that excels in his second opportunity.
Matt Eberflus - Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator (link)
Here we have our first non-experienced candidate for the Bears’ head coaching job. And he’s one of my favorites. Matt Eberflus is widely regarded as one of the most innovative coaches on the rise. If he doesn’t earn a head coaching role this year, expect him to get that title elsewhere within the next 3 years.
He has a relatively short career in the NFL compared to some of his peers on this list. In 2009 he left Missouri to join the pro ranks with the Cleveland Browns as their linebackers coach. In 2011 he left for the Dallas Cowboys, and between 2011 through 2017 he coached up one of the best units in all of football. Between 2016 and 2017 he earned the secondary title as passing game coordinator.
Then a very strange — and I’m sure very stressful — situation happened in 2018. Originally, Josh McDaniels accepted the job as the Indianapolis Colts’ new head coach. As part of his new staff, he hired Matt Eberflus as his new defensive coordinator. Out of nowhere Josh McDaniels fled back to New England and accepted a pay raise to remain as their offensive coordinator.
Matt wasn’t just stuck in an awkward situation - he was abandoned outright. Along with several other assistants Josh McDaniels left behind. Luckily for him, incoming head coach Frank Reich opted to retain Matt Eberflus. His decision paid off with the formation of one of the best coached defenses in the league. A bottom 30 ranked unit cracked the top 10 within their first season in Indy. Matt Eberflus preaches accountability, flawless execution, and maximum effort. You don’t see any loafing on his watch.
Becoming a first time head coach will have their bumps in the road. His football IQ and mindset will place him in a position of success. For people hesitant on hiring defensive coordinators - look at Brandon Staley with the Los Angeles Chargers. Just entrust Matt Eberflus as the leader of men, and be sure to pair him with a quality hire as his offensive coordinator. Every great head coach has to start somewhere.
Byron Leftwich - Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator (link)
The incredible story that is Byron Leftwich continues to write itself under the watchful eyes of Bruce Arians. His time as the starting QB at Marshall, which netted him an appearance on MTV’s “True Life - I’m a Heisman Trophy candidate” and accolades for the Green Herd, transitioned to the NFL as the starting QB for the Jacksonville Jaguars. His career as a QB in the NFL lasted from 2003 to 2012.
He didn’t start coaching in the pro ranks until 2017, when Bruce Arians named him as his QBs coach with the Arizona Cardinals. The bond between those two coaches became tight by the end of their first year together. It was also short lived in Arizona. Bruce Arians retired following the 2017 season, and Steve Wilks was hired as their replacement. Byron Leftwich earned the promotion as their interim offensive coordinator in 2018 before Cardinals GM Steve Keim elected to clean house after just one year.
Then 2019 happened. Bruce Arians stepped out of retirement to become the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also did so under the condition Byron Leftwich would be named his offensive coordinator. Bucs GM Jason Licht signed off immediately, and Byron Leftwich made his way to Tampa. In his first season he managed to engineer the top ranked passing offense with Jameis Winston as his QB.
Some goat named Tom Brady was signed in 2020 to be the starting QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Or is it Tompa Bay? Anyway, in just their first year together and a star studded roster, the Bucs became the first team to host (and win) a Super Bowl in their home town. The defending champs are in a great position to win another Super Bowl this season.
In all three seasons as the OC the Bucs have been ranked in the top 3 on offense. Is it just because of their embarrassment of riches on offense? Or, is Byron Leftwich a capable play-caller? Perhaps both are true. The exposure to the Bruce Arians way of empowering the players and building the strongest culture possible is why I feel Byron and his counterpart below are attractive candidates. Byron Leftwich is ready for this opportunity.
Todd Bowles - Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator and Former New York Jets Head Coach (link)
Speaking of which. Todd Bowles has a much lengthier coaching career than Byron Leftwich. He has traveled between the collegiate ranks, and several NFL teams, during his 25-year coaching career. This will mark the 4th different defensive coordinator our of the first five candidates discussed.
Recently the Chicago Bears tried their damndest to hire Todd Bowles as their DC in 2019 following Vic Fangio’s departure to the Denver Broncos as their newly hired head coach. Todd knew Matt Nagy from their days together with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also would have been the DC for the Bears had Bruce Arians — not Marc Trestman — been hired as their head coach in 2013. So we already have two separate instances where the Bears have tried to land Todd Bowles.
Back to his career. He spent over a decade as an assistant between the New York Jets; Cleveland Browns; Dallas Cowboys; Miami Dolphins; and Philadelphia Eagles coaching secondaries before landing his first DC job with Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals in 2017. His defense in Arizona took the league by storm. Because of his strong success as a play-caller, he was hired by the New York Jets as their new head coach in 2015. The same year the Bears hired GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox.
He would win 10 games in his first season as the head coach for the New York Jets. Unfortunately, that was the only good season he’d have with Gang Green, as he never finished better than 5-11 in his final 3 seasons. Todd Bowles took time off from football before returning to the league alongside Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich in 2019 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I’m not sure which defense is better. The squad he coached in Arizona, or the monstrosity that paved the road to their Super Bowl in Tampa Bay. He gets results no matter where he’s at. And he never had the talent needed with the New York Jets. Still, I’m unsure if he’s better off where he’s at as an elite play-caller on defense. His close relationship with Matt Nagy is something else to consider for the Bears.
Nathaniel Hackett - Green Bay Packers Offensive Coordinator (link)
This is the one interview request that caught me by surprise. Could it just be a case of the Bears wanting to learn more about their enemies up north? Or, could this be a serious hire?
Nathaniel Hackett has coached in the NFL since entering the league 2006 as Jon Gruden’s offensive quality control coach. Prior to 2006 he coached and recruited at UC Davis and Stanford, on the defensive side of the ball no less. He moved on to the Buffalo Bills as a quality control coach in 2008 before returning to the NCAA with Syracuse in 2010. By 2012 he was already the team’s offensive coordinator on top of their QB coach.
As has been a common trend in this list, he returned to the NFL in 2013 as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator under Doug Marrone. Their run game was rock solid, and former Bears QB Kyle Orton played at a respectable level. They never featured a credible passing game between 2013 and 2014. That’s a problem.
Doug Marrone opted out of his contract with the Bills in 2015 and took Nathaniel Hackett with him to the Jacksonville Jaguars as his QB coach. He wound up replacing Greg Olson as the OC in 2016 and remained in that role until 2018 when the Jaguars cleaned house. In 2017 the Jaguars reached their first playoff berth in well over a decade. That was fueled by a relentless defense and the league’s best rushing attack on offense. Blake Bortles also played at an O-K level for that season. They advanced all the way to the AFC Championship Game.
2018 was a year Nathanial would like to forget. Blake Bortles came back down to earth with a loud thump. He would not finish the season with the Jaguars, as he was fired by Doug Marrone following a 3-8 start to the year. That would also be the last time he ever called plays up to this point.
So how does one salvage their career as an offensive coordinator? Well, by taking a job with a head coach who will handle all play calling responsibilities, and quarterbacked by a hall of fame player. Essentially Nathanial Hackett is currently what Matt Nagy was while the later worked under Andy Reid with the Kansas City Chiefs. He is the OC with play-calling experience. Yet they’re not the actual play-callers in their respective spots. More, or less, they are the top quality control coach on offense. And not a textbook offensive coordinator.
That is a big reason why I pause when considering this interview. Just what exactly has he done to improve what was already a loaded offense in Green Bay? Sure they’ve run the ball at a high level of success. Yet what does Nathaniel Hackett offer to someone like Justin Fields?
The answer might be in the form of his current boss, Matt LaFleur. His offense never torched anyone outside of Green Bay. Yet both Matt LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett are coaches who tailor their their systems to the QB. Bringing in Nathaniel Hackett for Justin Fields will provide an entirely new perspective in the young QB’s development.
Still... I’m not so sure if the argument above holds much water. He could turn into a good head coach. Or, he could be a major flop, in a city where 2 of the last 3 head coaches came from the offensive side of the ball. And failed tremendously.
Leslie Frazier - Buffalo Bills Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator; and Former Minnesota Vikings Head Coach (link)
Chicago Bears fans, and the McCaskey family, know exactly who this guy is. The former DB and one-year star for the Bears’ Super Bowl Shufflin’ Crew of 1985 is a hallmark name throughout the Windy City. He led that same squad in interceptions (6 total) on their way to their only Lombardi Trophy that currently resides at Halas Hall.
That being said, the prospects of him being the head coach for the Bears aren’t particularly great. More on that later.
When he tore his ACL that effectively ended his career, he famously said he will never go to another Super Bowl unless he’s coaching that team from the sidelines. In 1988 he took his first coaching job with Trinity International University as... a head coach. He helped to establish the new NAIA program and won a pair of conference championships before taking a DBs coaching job with the Fighting Illini of Illinois. Frazier remained in that role until 1998.
His big jump to the NFL as a coach was in 1999 as the DBs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, up until 2002. In 2003 he accepted the defensive coordinator job with the Cincinnati Bengals. From 2003 to 2004 he held that title, with the Bengals ranked 28th and then improving to 18th in his second season. It’s worth noting the Bengals ranked 3rd in the league in takeaways with 36 during the 2004 season. Marvin Lewis fired Leslie Frazier following the 2004 season.
Tony Dungy saw promise in Leslie Frazier, and hired him to be an assistant coach in 2005. As fate would have it, his first Super Bowl appearance and championship as a coach would come against... the Bears at SB XLI. The Colts featured the 2nd best ranked pass defense during that 2006 season. A once young and green secondary turned into an elite unit, spearheaded by the great Bob Sanders and excellent corners like Melvin Bullitt and Kelvin Hayden.
Then the upcoming coaching hire and fire cycle arrived, with the Pittsburgh Steelers hiring Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin to become their new head coach. Leslie Frazier was hired to replace Mike Tomlin in 2007 at that very role. From 2007 until 2010 Leslie Frazier held that title for the Vikings. After a 3-7 start to their 2010 season Brad Childress was fired as the head coach. Leslie Frazier, who held the secondary title as assistant head coach, took over and finished that season 3-3. He was made the permanent head coach in 2011.
Leslie’s first tenure as the head coach was not overly successful. From 2011 to 2013 the Vikings mustered a total 18 wins. His lone winning season and playoff appearance came in 2012 after finishing 2nd in the NFC North at 10-6 and holding the tie breaker over the Bears. Frazier was fired following a 5-10-1 season in 2013.
As can be the case for a good number of fired head coaches he landed on his feet as Lovie Smith’s defensive coordinator in 2014 for the Buccaneers. His tenure in Tampa Bay was short lived, he was dismissed at the conclusion of the 2015 regular season. He served just one season with the Baltimore Ravens as a secondaries coach in 2016 before finally getting his current job with the Buffalo Bills.
Sean McDermott tasked Leslie Frazier with the responsibility of re-shaping and coaching his defense starting with the 2017 regular season. In each season Frazier’s unit improved statistically, starting at 18th in 2017, and finished the 2021 season as the league’s top ranked defense. That squad successfully managed to shut down top flight offenses all season long. His defenses have always featured high levels of effort in each stop.
And that is where I feel it is time to address the pink elephant in the room. He is an excellent coordinator and leader to have in your building. I just do not think he’s a strong enough candidate for the Bears’ head coach job. As we’ve seen, his defenses have been up and down with each stop. It’s great to get consistently high levels of effort. It’s concerning to see a dramatic dip in overall defense once he took over as a head coach. His staffing issues have also been noted. He could never field an adequate offense while performing his job as the head coach of the Vikings.
Leslie Frazier will always be a fan favorite in Chicago. He’s also in his best position for success, much like Todd Bowles above. I feel it may be wise for him to remain as a coordinator and assistant head coach.
Brian Daboll - Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator (link)
Many around the NFL wondered when Brian Daboll would get his chance as the head coach in any program. College or Pro. He has been the offensive coordinator to no fewer than 5 different organizations: Cleveland Browns (2009-2010); Miami Dolphins (2011); Kansas City Chiefs (2012); Alabama (2017); and the Buffalo Bills (2018-Present). That is an incredibly impressive feat in itself.
He wasn’t an instant hit as a play-caller, though. His first stint with Cleveland is largely forgettable, ranking 30th and 29th in his 2 seasons at the Dawg Pound. He faired a bit better in Miami, taking the 31st ranked unit and improving them to 20th in his one year at South Beach. Ditto with the Kansas City Chiefs. Things just weren’t clicking with any of the offenses he tried to run in each stop. And he had a hell of a time trying to get anything out of the QBs he inherited.
After struggling to find success as a coordinator, he returned to the New England Patriots in 2013 as their tight ends coach. Daboll previously served in New England as their receivers coach from 2002-2006. He won 5 Super Bowls with the Patriots as an assistant between his two stints. Then an intriguing opportunity with Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide at Alabama opened up. Brian Daboll decided to head back to the collegiate ranks after leaving Michigan State in 1999.
Nowadays the University of Alabama is described as a rehabilitation facility for offensive coordinators looking to regain their footing. During his one season at Alabama the Crimson Tide won a national championship, which featured a whole new brand of football. Bama has always been known for smashmouth football and a hellish defense. Not that season, their offense exploded with a vertical passing game never before seen at Tuscaloosa. Sean McDermott took notice.
Brian Daboll’s stay at the Alabama OC Rehabilitation Facility worked out for the better. He landed the offensive coordinator job at Buffalo the following season. He then finally received a QB who had the legitimate talent to mold into a franchise stud. After a slow start in 2018, Daboll gradually molded Josh Allen into one of the best QBs in the AFC.
A major adjustment to Daboll’s coaching style was the use of advanced metrics to track footwork and the velocity of Josh Allen’s throws. It was thanks to that he found a way to drastically improve his QB’s throwing mechanics. Footwork got better, arm motion improved, to a point Josh Allen wasn’t winding up to throw like a baseball player anymore. His decision-making is still suspect at times, but a gunslinger will always take their chances. Josh Allen is a long-term answer that should compete for Super Bowls in the coming years.
I feel Brian Daboll is still learning and evolving as a play-caller himself. Not once in his career did he ever act like he knew everything. He’s stayed humble and knows how to balance strong egos into building an efficient machine on offense. I absolutely loved it when he stood up for his backup, Mitchell Trubisky, in their pre-season game against the Bears this past year. He wanted to prove to the world he actually cares about working with the players. It was a not-so-subtle jab at Matt Nagy.
You can only learn lessons and find room for self improvement through experiencing failures. The beginning of his career was pretty ugly to the eyes of any statistical analyst. He got better over time as a play caller with each stop he made. The question now is can he make the jump to head coach? He’s learned under three elite minds like Bill Belichick; Nick Saban; and Sean McDermott. He’s got the demeanor that players naturally gravitate towards. Can he put it all together and run a football team in it’s entirety?
That remains to be seen.
Doug Pederson - Former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach (link)
And here is our final confirmed name for this list. For now. Why not interview the one Super Bowl winning head coach who’s readily available on the open market?
His entry into the NFL began as a QB who bounced around the league and even the long defunct NFL Europe and World League of American Football from 1991 to 2004. He played sparingly between all his stops, 8 teams in all, but won a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers as a backup to HOF QB Brett Favre and former Bears QB Jim McMahon. Another funny story - he beat out former Bears QB Rick Mirer for that job.
Wait, this whole xyz coach benefiting from former Bears misfortunes is happening way too much for my liking...
In what felt like destiny, Doug Pederson opted to begin his coaching career once his playing days were long over. He stepped into the head coaching role at Cavalry Baptist Academy from 2005 to 2008. Andy Reid, who knew Doug Pederson back when the two were coach and player at Green Bay, called Doug up to be an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. He remained with the Eagles until 2012, which turned into Andy Reid’s final season. Virtually everyone from the Philly staff jumped conferences with Big Red to the Kansas City Chiefs.
When installed as the Offensive Coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, he did so while receiving a talented project named Alex Smith at QB. The former number one overall pick went through a bunch of head coaches at San Francisco before being let go and labeled as a “bust.” Between Andy Reid, Doug Pederson, and Matt Nagy (well look at that) we saw Alex Smith become the QB people prayed he would develop into for the 49ers.
Chip Kelly got the axe in Philly and they needed a new head coach following the 2016 season. Howie Roseman got all his power back, and reached out to Doug for a chance of returning to his football Alma Mater. Doug agreed, and took over as their head coach that season. The Eagles then moved up to grab Carson Wentz as the QB for Doug to mold. Everything seemed to be settling into place for a bid at their first Super Bowl championship.
It did not happen in 2016 as the first time head coach and rookie QB hit numerous speed bumps together. However, all the pieces began to gel over time, and Doug’s attention to detail was noticed in practice every day. Their defense, coached by Jim Schwartz, started getting their footing. 2016 ended with a 7-9 season. Yet the foundation was in place.
That very next season was historic for the Eagles. Not only did they win their first Super Bowl championship in 2017, they did so while their MVP candidate Carson Wentz tore his ACL. QB Nick Foles, returning for his 2nd stint with the Eagles, managed the team while Pederson leaned on his 3rd ranked run game and turnover producing machine on defense. The Eagles needed to go from pass happy to run first. Doug did just that. And it payed off immensely.
Literally a statue was built of Doug Pederson and Nick Foles following their Super Bowl Championship at SB LII. He’d reach the playoffs the next two consecutive seasons as a wildcard team, before falling apart in 2020. He was fired after a controversial decision to sit promising rookie QB Jalen Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfield during their game that decided their playoff fate against the Washington Football Team. His career ended with his record at 42-37-1, including 4-2 in the postseason.
He would offer perhaps the most seamless transition for Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. Play-calling and terminologies are largely the same. Concepts on offense are similar, although Pederson doesn’t depend on speed as much and likes being more physical. David Montgomery would be a perfect fit for this offense. His play-calling at times got him in trouble just like Matt Nagy with the Bears.
There’s no question Doug Pederson knows how to win a Super Bowl. Not one head coach in NFL history has ever won at least one Super Bowl with two different franchises. It’s pretty unlikely Matt Nagy’s former boss would coach the very same team his former student got fired from. Weirder things have happened.
One Unconfirmed Name to Recommend
Jim Caldwell - Former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts Head Coach
“Surely you can’t be serious.” I am serious. And don’t call me Shirly. What Jim Caldwell has accomplished in his career is outstanding. QB guru, adaptable, and a level headed, genuine person to lead your franchise. Above else, a proven winner. Aren’t these all the boxes we need to check for the Bears’ head coaching job?
Right before publishing this article Jeremy Fowler of ESPN mentioned it is “expected” the Bears will interview Jim Caldwell. Still no official request that we know of. But I’ve been calling this for weeks.
He’s also the most experienced coach on this list. If not on the market as well. His coaching career dates all the way back to 1977. From Iowa to Wake Forest, and several collegiate programs in between, he spent 23 years within the NCAA before Tony Dungy hired him onto his staff with the Buccaneers in 2001. Following the third post-season loss in a row, the Glazer family decided to replace Tony Dungy and his staff with Jon Gruden. Even though Tony Dungy hand built that team and made the playoffs for 3 consecutive seasons.
The Indianapolis Colts, managed by Bill Polian at the time, hired Tony Dungy as his new head coach in 2002. Tony brought Jim Caldwell with him as his quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach. Jim’s chief responsibility was to ensure QB Peyton Manning would develop into the legend the Colts believed he could become.
And he most certainly accomplished that mission - Peyton Manning won 4 of his 5 NFL MVPs while Jim Caldwell was his QB coach and eventually head coach. His best season came in 2004, where Peyton Manning swept the honors and titles in one of the single most dominant performances by any NFL QB in history. In 2006, while alongside Leslie Frazier as well, the Colts won the Super Bowl over the Chicago Bears.
I swear how many times has such bad luck been mentioned in this article?
Jim Caldwell’s first big chance as a head coach arrived in 2009. He was promoted to the position following Tony Dungy’s retirement from football. The Colts won their first 14 games under Jim Caldwell, then advanced all the way to the Super Bowl.
They lost to the New Orleans Saints at SB XLIV. His following season was impressive in it’s own respect. Jim Caldwell became the first head coach to get his team back to the playoffs the year following a Super Bowl loss in many years. The Colts barely clinched a wildcard spot in 2010 to make that happen. In a cruel twist of fate, Peyton Manning suffered a bizarre and serious injury that jeopardized his career. The 2011 Colts were never prepared for life after Peyton Manning.
Bill Polian was fired along with Jim Caldwell after a season that saw the Colts drop to 2-14. John Harbaugh hired Jim Caldwell as his new QB coach in 2012. Within one season, Jim Caldwell went from being the QB coach, to replacing Cam Cameron as their offensive coordinator. QB Joe Flacco played the best football of his career once Jim Caldwell took over the play-calling. The Ravens finished that season as the Super Bowl champions at SB XLVII.
Jim would coach one more full season at Baltimore before the Detroit Lions offered him another chance at being a head coach. In 2014, Jim Caldwell accomplished a feat no Lions coach in history achieved since the merger - take them to the playoffs in their first season. The Lions went 11-5, their best record since 1991, and clinched a wildcard spot. The Lions would finish 3 of their 4 seasons under Jim Caldwell above .500. That in itself hadn’t happen since Wayne Fontes was their head coach.
The ultimate accomplishment was being the first Lions coach to leave the organization with a record above .500 since Joe Schmidt in 1972. Jim Caldwell was unceremoniously fired in favor of hiring Matt Patricia in 2018. They have barely managed to match half of Jim Caldwell’s win total in the 4 years between Matt Patricia, Darrell Bevell, and Dan Campbell. Bad firing then. Exceptionally worse firing now.
Jim Caldwell checks all the boxes for Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. Its unfathomable why he’s not a head coach right now. Bring him to Chicago, and they will win right away. Especially when Jim builds himself a strong staff around himself.
Do Not Even Consider Interviewing This Guy...
Josh McDaniels - New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator
I truly cannot stand this guy. I do not understand why anyone feels he deserves a 3rd chance at being a head coach. Numbers and shiny rings won under the most successful head coach are two things. To continue with this myth he’s head coach material is an idiot’s game.
Look, I get it, he got himself a rookie QB in Mac Jones playing well this season as the Patriots return to the playoffs after failing to qualify in 2020. Recency bias is the prettiest brand of shades to wear in any evaluation for coaches, players, etc. And that’s exactly what that example is - recency bias. Has everyone forgotten how bad the Patriots offense was in 2020?
They finished 27th in total yards and scoring. Their passing offense finished 30th despite all the talk former MVP Cam Newton was going to light the league up in Josh McDaniels’s offense. Meanwhile, Tom Brady took the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl. It’s amazing how much different one’s offense looks without their long-time Hall of Fame QB under center.
“But Josh McDaniels is a brilliant offensive mind.” Are you really sure about that? His offense in Denver looked ordinary and unspectacular. They never ranked higher than 18th in either season he was their head coach. His offense with St. Louis in 2011 was almost dead last.
“But Josh McDaniels never had a chance to hand pick a new QB to develop.” He hand picked Tim Tebow in the 2010 draft as his master plan to replace former Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler. Then he went to coach the former #1 overall pick Sam Bradford with the Rams. Both QBs turned into resounding flops.
“But Josh McDaniels never had the proper setup anywhere outside New England” Seriously? He set the Denver Broncos up precisely how he wanted it. He assumed full managerial powers in addition to his head coaching role. That’s how he wanted it. The Bowlen family gave it to him.
“But... but...” But. Nothing. The Denver Broncos were a complete dumpster fire from 2009 to 2010. He didn’t even finish his 2nd season as their head coach. He was thrown out of the Mile High City once the players started a full fledged mutiny.
And then there’s what separates him from all the other bad coaching candidates out there. His ego and hunger for control. Just because Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won all those rings that you happen to wear on your hands, doesn’t mean your God’s gift to football. The blatant level of disrespect he showed Jay Cutler, Ted Sundquist, and the entire Bowlen family makes me sick.
The Patriots do a fine job of masking their personnel and spraying the strongest scent of air freshener to hide the stench of their personalities. People in New England claim he’s grown. Now ask everyone else in the league.
Especially Bill Polian’s Indianapolis Colts.
There are only so many things you can get away with as a person. In 2018 he was given his 3rd chance at making a name for himself out of New England. The Colts offered him their head coaching job and he accepted that offer. Right away he sought out to build a superstar staff around himself and cleaned house of anyone he didn’t plan to keep.
Not even one month into the transition, and Josh McDaniels goes back on his word. Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick convince Josh McDaniels to pack his bags and come home to Foxborough. He did so, without hesitation. In the process he left every assistant in Indy stranded and potentially facing unemployment.
I truly do not care what profession you are in. You do not do what Josh McDaniels did and get away with it. Leaving Jim Irsay and the Colts at the alter will get you blacklisted around the league. Well... unless you’re the Houston Texans. Hope lies with them on his external opportunity for a head coaching job.
I’m well aware Aaron Wilson reported the Bears were allegedly one of three teams interested in Josh McDaniels this year. The Bears did interview Josh McDaniels for their head coaching job in 2018. He never got a 2nd interview, and considering the GM candidates already requested from the Bears (Ed Dodds, Morocco Brown, Champ Kelly, etc.) I highly doubt the legitimacy of his candidacy in Chicago.
“Damn ECD. We’ve never seen this before.” Yeah, because we’ve never had to deal with such an awful person. Not one I can remember at least. For the love of all that is decent, do not consider Josh McDaniels as a head coach. In Chicago, or anywhere else.
Much like the GM search this list is getting lengthier as time passes. Including Jim Caldwell, that brings the possible total to at least 10 official candidates for the Bears’ head coaching job. George McCaskey, Bill Polian, and the search committee are casting as wide a net as possible.
Any one of these hires could look great on paper. They could also look boring, depending who you ask. It’s up to whomever is hired as the GM to ensure their head coach is set up for success.
Oh, and if we can keep that troll from New England out of here, my sanity would appreciate that.