It has been 15 days since the Chicago Bears sent Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy packing after a 6-11 season in 2021. And yet, the Bears don’t have a new general manager or head coach.
Things are getting angsty. Chicago’s process, which has been exhaustive and exhausting at the same time, is in question. And there is a vibe that makes things feel like we are re-visiting a chapter in unsavory Bears history. But at the same time, it also feels like things are finally turning a corner. Finalists and candidates who earn second interviews are beginning to roll in for both GM and head coach positions, and the course has been set.
So with all that in mind, here’s a look at the head coach and GM candidates to have received (or scheduled) a second interview with the Chicago Bears so far. Excerpts under each name our from our previous write-ups of each candidate, which you can find by clicking the on their name.
Head Coach Candidates
No, Caldwell wouldn’t be a splashy hire. But I’ve seen enough of those types of hires fall flat to know that winning the news cycle means nothing. So maybe that is what the Bears need? Perhaps Chicago should be looking for a coach who flies under-the-radar. Someone with a solid track record and enough respectability to lay the groundwork for something special. Third-time head coaches don’t tend drum up much inspiration. And I’ll admit a Caldwell hire wouldn’t rally the troops. But one of my friends often nudges me when they say: “Do you want to win, or do you want to be popular?”
I’ll admit seeing Caldwell getting a second interview is a surprise. Caldwell has been away from coaching since 2019 due to health issue. And even if he has those in order, there are honest concerns about if he is up to the challenge of the top boss gig at age 67. But if you can have multiple winning seasons with the Lions, no one should count you out.
Let us take a moment to gush about Eberflus’ résumé. He has experience in the pro and college game, which is nice. Was a standout player who played for Nick Saban’s Toledo team in 1990, so he has that going for him. And most recently, his defense ranked ninth in scoring, had the second most takeaways, and was eighth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. Things have been clicking for Eberflus in Indy. Not bad for a guy who was only there in the first place because Josh McDaniels brought him in and left expeditiously.
Even with the Bears not putting up a Colts-centric tag team, Eberflus remains the head-coach candidate running the show on the field. A defensive coordinator by trade, Eberflus’ unit in Indy had the second most takeaways and the ninth-best scoring defense last year. And if you watched enough Colts games, you probably wondered what it would be like to team that defense with a quarterback who could push the ball down-field at a more successful rate than Carson Wentz.
Colts’ DC Matt Eberflus and Cowboys’ DC Dan Quinn both are scheduled to be in Chicago on Wednesday to meet with new Bears’ GM Ryan Poles, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 26, 2022
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dan Quinn is the Atlanta Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots in his lone Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a big, ugly pill to swallow. But, his résumé spans far beyond that blemish. There’s a lot of good on there and a lot of good on the defensive side of the ball.
On the one hand, it is hard to get past that Super Bowl loss. Twenty-eight to three. That carries a ton of weight whenever Quinn’ name comes up in discussion. But on the other hand, that same Falcons team put up 44 points on the Packers in that year’s NFC Championship Game. The Bears haven’t hung 40 on the Packers since 1948 (box score from Sep. 26, 1948) and have put 30 on That Team From Wisconsin just twice since 1994. So … maybe there is something there?
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 26, 2022
Poles has an extensive background in scouting with the Chiefs. And while he has worked in just one organization, Poles has survived three different general managers. Poles spent time under Scott Pioli (2009-12), John Dorsey (2013-16), and Brett Veach (2017-present). He must be doing something right to make it through three different regimes and to keep climbing the front office ladder. Right?
Even though Poles was later add to the mix of candidates, he was the first front office candidate whose name was reported to be getting a second interview. Poles must’ve hit the right notes during his interview. And in his second, because now he is in charge. At age 36, Poles is on the younger side of the executive age scale. However, a Poles hire seems to hint at the Bears’ search committee being part of a good process. At minimum, it quiets some of the noise of Bill Polian showing up only to hire his old running mates.
On Monday night, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport name-checked three candidates — Tennessee’s Monti Ossenfort, Kansas City’s Ryan Poles, and New England’s Eliot Wolf — who things were lining up for to get second interviews. Not to be left completely out of the discussion, Indy’s Morocco Brown could get another call. But that seems up-in-the air.
Ossenfort has been the Titans Director of Player Personnel for each of the last two seasons. But his background ranges far beyond having spent time in Nashville. Ossenfort has multiple stints with the Patriots under his belt. Nothing like spending time climbing the ladder being a personnel assistant, area scout, national scout, Assistant Director of College Scouting, and ultimately the team’s Director of College Scouting. He also has time spent with the Vikings (2001) and Texans (2002) as an intern. Ossenfort must have made a good impression, seeing that he would come back to the Texans as a college scout for Houston in 2005. It can be challenging to separate these candidates, but I always find it interesting to see the candidates whose background features stints with different teams. The Titans are one of those teams whose roster is sneaky good. That group has high-end talent and depth. And yet, flies under the radar. Put aside an early exit from the playoffs despite having the No. 1 seed aside, and you’ll note Tennessee seems to always find its way to win. The Titans have had six consecutive winning seasons, made the playoffs in three straight seasons, and in four of the last five years. Honestly, I’m envious that success.
Knowing how things work in the NFC North is one thing. Understanding the ins-and-outs of what goes down in Packerland is another. But the most interesting thing about Wolf’s résumé is how many different positions he was in during his time in Green Bay. Holding a bunch of titles doesn’t impress me on its own. But doing so while climbing the organizational ladder has my attention. And it makes it easy to envision Wolf’s pitch as someone who can lead an organization from the top because of his start at the bottom. Wouldn’t it be something if the son of the architect of those pain-in-the-butt Packers teams led the Bears to glory after Green Bay — which passed on hiring him after the 2018 season — begins the post-Rodgers era? With Wolf making it into a second round of interviews, that possibility isn’t out of the question.