I’ll understand if if you think finding a suitable replacement for Head Coach John Fox seems like an impossible task, but, hey, if the Los Angeles Rams can do it, anyone can … right?
Albert Breer (SI.com’s The MMQB) outlines the lessons NFL teams could learn from the Rams’ coaching search/Sean McVay’s meteoric rise, and I think the Bears could learn a thing or two.
Breer points out there have been 51 coaching changes over the course of the last seven offseasons. Further, there are 25 teams averaging two coaching changes during that span. And the Rams are no stranger to the coach shuffle, firing Scott Linehan and Steve Spagnuolo (whose teams averaged 12.2 losses per season from 2006 to 2011) before anointing Jeff Fisher as the franchise savior.
As it turns out, it took firing Fisher (and perhaps leaving St. Louis) to capture that elusive winning season to put the franchise’s first postseason game in 13 years is on the horizon. But how, sway? How did the Rams – who got it so spectacularly wrong year after year – finally find The One?
Hopefully, there Bears are taking notes.
DEFINE WHAT YOU WANT
As we learned upon the departures of Alshon Jeffery and Robbie Gould, self scouting is a major key.
Firing Fisher with three weeks into the season put the process in motion and led the organization to conduct research on the kind of team it wanted to build. Breer writes interviews with assistants such as Steve Wilks (Panthers defensive coordinator) and Mike Vrabel (Texans defensive coordinator) – both of whom will be head coaching candidates in due time – gave the Rams an idea of what they wanted moving forward.
IDENTIFY AND ASSESS THE COACH’S WEAKNESSES
After three straight losing seasons under Fox, it will be easy to find positives in each candidate that walks into Halas Hall. But the Bears need to be careful not to fall into the “anyone but Fox” trap.
Balancing a coach’s weaknesses against their strengths will go a long way to determining the right candidate.
VET THE CANDIDATE
The Rams displayed some out-of-the-box thinking here by contacting agents of Washington’s defensive players to pick up testimonials regarding a coach whose unit they went up against in practice. To be fair, there were no better minds to pick regarding McVay than those who were facing his offense daily.
This seems like the hard part for all the obvious reasons.
Rams GM Les Snead said McVay was so good at explaining his offense, Snead himself said he felt he could run it. “You could see the chess being played but it was in a manner where you felt like you were playing checkers.” Snead wasn’t the only one impressed.
“I hope we’re hiring that guy, because after spending two hours with him, I don’t want to play for anyone else,” quarterback Jared Goff told Snead and team Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff after meeting with McVay.
HAVE THE TIMING LINE UP
“Get him now, don’t let somebody else get him,” Snead told Breer. “Don’t come out of this saying he’s a year away, and then in a year, somebody else gets him, because that somebody else is gonna beat you with him.”
Offensive coordinators like Matt Nagy (Chiefs), Frank Reich (Eagles), Matt LaFleur (rams), and Jim Bob Cooter, as well as Eagles QBs Coach John DeFilippo are the types of names who would fall directly into this category. Young assistants with no head coaching experience but could have the kind of upside a team dreams of when conducting a search.
Between trading up for Leonard Floyd and Mitch Trubisky in consecutive drafts, Bears GM Ryan Pace has already shown he isn’t afraid to make an aggressive move to get a player he wants, even if it’s unpopular.