The Chicago Bears’ search for a new GM and head coach is entering its third week. And despite the notion that the Bears might have cast too wide of a net, things are finally starting to heat up.
After interviewing Todd Bowles and Dan Quinn, the Bears have completed interviews with 11 general manager candidates and 10 head-coaching candidates. But the interview process isn’t over just yet. Chicago also has interviews on the books this week with Morocco Brown and Omar Khan for the vacant GM position (Monday). The schedule also has Ryan Poles (GM) and Dennis Allen (coach) ready for Tuesday. And a second interview with Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus for the head-coach vacancy on Wednesday.
Here’s the latest.
Polian’s Influence on an Indianapolis Pipeline
If you’re going to poach a single organization for their talent, then Indianapolis is a pretty good one to mine. I’m not at all turned off by the idea of the Bears ending up with a general manager/head coach combo that is either (1) currently employed by the Colts or (2) coming over thanks to Bill Polian’s ties (Polian, you’ll recall, is running the show (along with a committee) on the concurrent GM and coach searches).
HOWEVER, that leads to some really important questions. Chiefly, was it really necessary to interview half the western hemisphere just to pluck guys right from Polian’s comfort zone? This is likely why folks have come to the opinion — and let’s be clear, it’s just an opinion — that the Bears are lost in their current search for the next GM and head coach in Chicago.
Even with Ed Dodds pulling his name from consideration last week, it seems like we very well could be in for an Indianapolis package at GM and head coach. It is easy to see the Indianapolis flavor and connect Polian. He, of course, spent more than a decade in Indianapolis and saw much of the success that led to a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in 2015.
Colts’ Director of College Scouting Morocco Brown is set for an interview on Monday for the GM opening. Matt Eberflus, Indy’s defensive coordinator, should be interviewing again Wednesday for the head coach vacancy. Jim Caldwell, a former Colts head coach, has already interviewed for the head-coaching position. And there’s been lots of smoke lately around Caldwell for the Bears head coach gig. And I have concerns with that possibility.
I don’t have worries about Caldwell being hired as the head coach. After all, he won in Indianapolis with multiple playoff appearances. He was living good after leading the Colts to a 14-2 record and an AFC Championship in 2009 after replacing Tony Dungy. Caldwell even won in Detroit, putting together a 36-28 record and two playoff appearances with the Lions during his four seasons. My issue with Caldwell isn’t hiring Caldwell, but rather the Bears process.
With that said, Caldwell is not my top choice, and if the Bears do hire him, it would be grounds to question their process. Put simply, he would be an odd hire for what the Bears have been selling.
If Chicago ends up leaning on Indianapolis for their head coach and general manager hires, then what was the point of the dog and pony show of interviewing 20+ candidates. It just doesn’t line up. I understand the need to interview more than Caldwell. But to cast this wide of a net, only for Polian to hire a coach he had in Indianapolis more than a decade ago? To me, that speaks to the narrative that the Bears don’t quite know what they’re doing.
A Brown-Eberflus Tandem Makes Sense; But Caldwell Concerns Are Lurking
I was a fan of former Texans executive Rick Smith from the jump, but it doesn’t appear that he has interviewed yet (despite being connected in the early phases of the process unearthing candidates). But I’m also a massive fan of what Morocco Brown brings to the table as a potential future GM of the Bears. Or any other team for that matter. You can read more about Brown’s candidacy here.
For the sake of this post, let’s discuss one option the Bears could pursue if Brown ends up being the GM hire.
It is lining up for Eberflus to have a second interview with the Bears this week, just days after Brown’s first. Eberflus will be the ideal candidate for my money if a Polian-arranged Indy marriage with Brown plays out. You can read more about Eberflus as a candidate here. But know Eberflus isn’t the only possible head coach candidate with Colts ties.
Caldwell would, of course, falls under the Polian-Colts umbrella. However, there are concerns regarding a possible hire of a 67-year-old head coach when the goal should be to create a long-term partnership with Justin Fields. Fields, 22, is the future of this franchise at the most premier position in football. Caldwell, who just turned 67, left coaching in 2019 after a health scare while as an assistant with the Dolphins. For what it is worth, Caldwell has since reported that a dietary and lifestyle change has stabilized his health concerns. And thus, is ready to return to a sideline. But, again, he is 67. The day-to-day grind of an NFL head coach isn’t exactly a walk in the park on the mind and body.
Sure, it’s conceivable that Caldwell could coach into his mid-seventies if his health remains. However, this goes against what George McCaskey should want. Particularly, if he aspires to build long-standing sustained success from the ashes of that disaster of a press conference after the dismissal of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy.
The Other Guys
With Joe Schoen being hired as the Giants GM last Friday, maybe we’ll start seeing some movement. And perhaps some clarity. For instance, there is a distinct possibility that a Bills tandem lands in with the Giants. Buffalo Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll or Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier could join Schoen in New York. Daboll was Schoen’s first interview, while Frazier is reportedly a person of interest. Both are Bears targets, just as Schoen was before taking the job in New York. The early smoke here makes it seem that if Schoen could be building a Bills tandem in the Big Apple. And if that is the case, it feels as if Daboll is likely the guy to join Schoen. Should it happen, this could remove a number of Bears’ fans’ favorite from the pool of potential candidates in one fell swoop.
If Daboll is off the board, and Brian Flores having seemingly off of the radar, it makes it seem more likely that some combination of the aforementioned Indy combo is where the Bears land. But it doesn’t have to land there. For instance, one candidate outside of that Indianapolis-Polian tree that could be a name to watch is Buccaneers’ Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich. Like Eberflus, Leftwich is a reported finalist for both the Bears and Jaguars jobs. Leftwich’s run coaching the Buccaneers in the playoffs came to an end thanks to Matt Gay’s heroics. But now that the NFL’s Conference Championships won’t have the Bucs or Bills, we could start seeing movement this week.
The End is Near, it Seems
Many have stressed about the time it’s taking the Bears to navigate this process. And that is because it has been longer than the last GM search. If you’ll recall, Ryan Pace was hired 11 days after Phil Emery was fired. But the end is near, at least it seems. Heck, it might even be over after Brown interviews on Monday. Especially if this has been pre-determined by Polian. And it seems like it all circles back to an arrangement highlighted by Colts connections.
A Colts “marriage” in the Windy City brought together by Polian seems like something right out of the McCaskey’s football knowledge-deprived playbook. But it could work. Pairing Eberflus or Caldwell with Brown is a setup that may very well work out in the Bears favor. Even if it came together by way of the McCaskey’s throwing darts at the dartboard and hoping for a bulls-eye.