REPORT: Bears Likely to Make a Head Coaching Change, and Pat Fitzgerald is the Target

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REPORT: Bears Likely to Make a Head Coaching Change, and Pat Fitzgerald is the Target

Chicago Bears

Let me say up front that part of our job here is to share with you the interesting information out there, and then to comment upon/parse/contextualize/etc. that information. So when there is an ENORMOUS report drops like what Jason La Canfora just put out, we have to share it, but then I want to make sure to soften things a bit before you freak (in one direction or the other).

Here’s the report:

“If the Chicago Bears conduct a coaching search next month — and numerous league sources have indicated it is far more likely than not that will be the case — Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be at the top of their wish list.

Frustration is mounting within ownership about the performance of coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, sources said, and Fitzgerald has long had the attention of ownership. Northwestern is having another excellent season and while the former Wildcat player has long asserted he hoped to coach in Evanston for life, he did grant the Packers an audience about their head coaching job two years ago before quickly withdrawing, and the Bears have long been identified by those close to him as the one NFL job he might seriously entertain at the appropriate time.”

The track record on these reports coming from CBS has been really hit or miss, but we already know things are reaching a boiling point at Halas Hall, and we also know that these Bears-Fitzgerald connections go way back. Indeed, as La Canfora points out, one of the Bears’ minority owners, Pat Ryan, is a Northwestern alum who, I might add, could conceivably be the one driving these rumors. He is deeply, deeply involved in Northwestern athletics, and it’s not hard to imagine him wanting to port that over to the Bears.

For his part, we’ve seen reports that Fitzgerald would consider leaving Northwestern for the Bears job, and possibly only the Bears job.

Fitzgerald draws mixed reviews from Chicago Bears fans, with some regarding his local success at a place where it’s very hard to succeed as a clear indicator that he could do really well with the Bears. Others regard his style as playing really well at a college institution like Northwestern, but translating poorly to the NFL. That is to say, I can see how he might appeal to ownership, but I don’t know that it means football minds would agree he’s a great fit for the Bears. I’m open to it – we’ve touched on the rumors before, but it never felt like a serious enough possibility to dig in – but I’d kinda have to be convinced. I’ll let Luis dig into it more in the near future.

What I don’t like here – regardless of whether it’s about Fitzgerald or anyone else – is the implication that the Bears at an ownership level (and/or with input from Ted Phillips) are already thinking about specific head coach candidates before even figuring out what they are going to do with the front office. If the Bears decide to move on from GM Ryan Pace, I want to see an entire restructuring of operations, and I want to see that new operations group deciding what to do about the head coach situation. You want those parts working together in concert, not chosen independently by ownership. That’s just not a consistently successful approach in any professional sport.

So, that is to say, to the extent we regard this report as at all accurate, it concerns me much more for the structure it implies than for the specific name mentioned. You could probably sell me on Fitzgerald, but you absolutely cannot sell me on this kind of ownership-driven process.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.