As the Chicago Bears head coach and GM searches continue, we’ve learned precious little outside of the fact that the Bears are (1) hoping to hire a GM before hiring a head coach (despite some initial signals to the contrary) and (2) they’re interviewing pretty much everyone. But every plan has an exception and we may have learned a little more about the Bears’ intentions, with respect to at least one head coach candidate, tonight.
Brian Flores, 40, is a candidate for the Chicago Bears head coach vacancy, and a darn good one at that. You can check out the résumé here and note that the competition for a hot commodity like Flores could get stiff quickly (the Giants and Texans are already known suitors).
But if Yahoo! Sports reporter Charles Robinson is correct, Chicago just may be the team to beat, at least in terms of their interest: “Chicago is very, very smitten with Brian Flores.”
But, that comes with a pretty big “BUT.”
The Bears may be eying Flores as much as any team out there, but they’re not alone in that pursuit. And for however attractive the Bears are as a team and Chicago is as a home, Flores will have other, potentially more attractive options available to him. There’s also the whole problem of the Bears not having a GM at the moment, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
The point here is that in order for the Bears to get Flores on board, they might need to restructure their organization and reset some of their short-term plans to separate themselves from the pack/make themselves more attractive. At least, according to Robinson (bolded emphasis mine).
“For Chicago to reel him, they have to talk to Flores and go ‘OK, the general manager hire is someone you’re going to be comfortable with and you want to be connected with. And it’s also going to be someone who is going to be comfortable letting you take the lead in the organization,” Robinson explained.
“It would be a very-much coach-driven organization first with the GM being — not on the second tier — but just holding back behind the head coach.”
As I mentioned, there have been reports that the Bears are targeting a GM hire before bringing in a coach. However, Chairman George McCaskey left a window open to the idea of a non-traditional structure. And if the right head coach fit came around, then maybe this is something that gets explored.
Robinson mentions the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch dynamic in San Francisco as a comparison. The 49ers blueprint is one in which Shanahan drives a chunk of the decision-making while being a head coach, with Lynch pushing things through as a general manager. But whatever they do, it is as a tandem. This SB Nation post from 2017 provides a snapshot explaining how this dynamic works.
There have been prior reports of friction between the two, but postseason appearances in two of the last three seasons is nothing to sneeze at. Clearly, something works there. Could that something work for the Bears?
Well, it’s not as if the Bears haven’t gone down this path before. The team did give Lovie Smith some personnel responsibilities after Chicago’s appearance in Super Bowl XLI. But that didn’t go all too well. And it wasn’t until after Smith ceded some power and delegated responsibilities elsewhere that things got back on track. This isn’t to say a Bay-Area-dynamic couldn’t work in the Windy City. But attempting to do so should come with fair warning of the considerable risk the organization would be undertaking.
In the end, having a larger stake in football operations as a coach could be something that Chicago’s upper-management dangles in their recruitment process. And if other organizations weren’t willing to offer it up, it could be a deal-maker for whichever one is willing to do so. Giving your new coach more power than a traditional head coach in a re-shaped organizational structure would count as going outside the box, which is something they should at least be willing to consider.
The Bears tend not to do things this differently, but we’ll certainly keep an eye out to see if this happens to be something the organization explores.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.