There is never a shortage of NFL head coaching candidates when the time comes for jobs to be filled and everyone has an angle on who should be on each team’s list.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB put together a list of the 10 best NFL coaching candidates under 50. One name that seemingly came out of nowhere to be tied to the Chicago Bears is Northwestern University coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Here is what Breer had to say about the Wildcats’ leader:
“It’d take a lot for him to leave his alma mater, but if you want a guy who does more with less, this is your guy. He could be an interesting candidate for Chicago.”
Fitzgerald has had opportunities to leave in prior years and, to be clear, doesn’t seem to be looking to jump ship after another successful season at NU. He also represents the most outside-the-box candidate who could be on the Bears’ radar. Hence, Fitzgerald’s name isn’t one I expected to consider at this time.
On the surface, Fitzgerald is the kind of coach Bears management could take a chance on and fans could find themselves rallying around. Fitzgerald is young (he just turned 43 on December 2), energetic, and has local ties. And while he doesn’t have the offensive background several of the other ideal candidates have, his defensive prowess would likely be applauded by Bears backers who believe in reverting to playing with a run-heavy offense.
Fitzgerald is 86-65 since taking over in 2006 when he was just 31 years old. He played for the Wildcats from 1993 to 1996 and started coaching at NU in 2001. Fitzgerald started with defensive backs (2001) and moved to linebackers (2002-05) before taking over for Randy Walker after his tragic and unexpected death.
At Northwestern, Fitzgerald balances fielding a Big Ten team that is competitive and meets high standards on the gridiron and higher standards in the classroom. If Fitzgerald walked into Halas Hall at the start of 2018, he would be coming into a situation with the deck stacked against him. But that would be nothing new.
As for the rest of the list, it is filled with the type of coaches the Bears should have their eyes on should they choose to part ways with John Fox.
Eagles Quarterbacks Coach John DeFilippo, Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy, and Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels are among the names we’ve discussed in some detail.
Fitzgerald doesn’t necessarily tickle my fancy, but he has youth on his side and is a local favorite. You wouldn’t have to squint to see why some team could easily fall for him.
A young coach, preferably one who could grow with young players would fit the bill as far as the big picture is concerned. A coach who can help Mitch Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Adam Shaheen, Leonard Floyd, Eddie Jackson, and others grow and reach their full potential is of the utmost importance for a team in this stage of its rebuild.