In November 2017, Andy Reid told NFL insider Adam Caplan that Matt Nagy is the best head coaching prospect he’s ever had.
Fast forward to February 2019, where Nagy was named the league’s Coach of the Year after leading the Bears to a 12-4 record in his inaugural campaign. It sure looked like Reid had nailed his assessment. More than that, it appeared as if the Bears finally landed a leader from a successful coaching tree.
Jump ahead 22 months, and Nagy is on the hot seat and seemingly on the brink of losing his gig.
That’s what happens when you go 13-15 in 28 regular season games after winning 12 in your first go-around.
Rumblings surrounding Nagy’s spot on the hot seat picked up in late November and haven’t slowed since. In fact, they figure to only pick up from here. Especially since rumors about Pat Fitzgerald being a potential replacement popped up for the second time in as many years.
But Fitzgerald doesn’t figure to be the only candidate who interests the Bears this offseason. And because I know it’s on your mind, let’s offer up some other potential fits.
PFT’s Mike Florio got his hands on a league-generated list of minority head coach and general manager candidates. The NFL is looking to diversify, and I suppose one way of helping is by creating this list. There are plenty of names that should be familiar to Bears fans for any number of reasons. For instance, Leslie Frazier (played for the Bears, coached the Vikings), Jim Caldwell (coached the Lions), Pep Hamilton (coached Bears QBs), and Todd Bowles (Bucs DC interviewed for the head-coach opening in 2015) are on the list. As are fresh faces such as Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs OC), Byron Leftwich (Bucs OC), and Robert Saleh (49ers DC). Saleh was recently name-dropped as a possible fit by Raiders beat reporter Vic Tafur. That’s worth keeping in mind.
NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero cooked up a watch list of young coaches to watch as future head-coach candidates. There’s plenty of Bears-tinted flavor in this group. Former Bears assistants Brandon Staley (Rams DC/coached Bears OLBs under Vic Fangio) and Zach Azzanni (Broncos WRs Coach/coached Bears WRs for John Fox) make an appearance. As do current Bears assistants, John DeFilippo (QBs Coach) and Sean Desai (Bears Safeties Coach). Pelissero sprays to all fields with his list. For example, there are plenty of hot new names including Arthur Smith (Titans OC) and Joe Brady (Panthers OC). College standouts such as Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) and Matt Campbell (Iowa State).
In mid-November, Jason La Canfora (CBS Sports) heard buzz that “prominent college coaches” could leave campus for the NFL as a result of the pandemic’s fallout. Among the notable names La Canfora shares include Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), and yes, Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern).
Over at Bleacher Report, Matt Miller offered up an early look at potential top head-coaching candidates who figured to be on teams radars when the time was right. Some fresh names Miller shares are Brian Daboll (Bills OC), Greg Roman (Ravens OC), Adam Stenavich (Packers OL Coach), and Anthony Weaver (Texans DC).
I imagine the list will grow from here. And while the Bears aren’t making any splash hires now, it’s good to know there are plenty of intriguing options. That’s important in what could be a crowded field of teams looking for coaching help. And because there are so many possibilities, it makes me think how foolish it would be to be dead-set on a guy before exhausting all potential options.