The Bears might have a new coach next year. Or they might not. Who the heck knows, but it’s never too early to start looking at some of the candidates.
At this point, I’m assuming Ryan Pace will still be the GM. If that’s the case, I don’t see either Josh McDaniels or Jim Harbaugh being an option. And, truth is, I’m not sure either is that great of an option, anyway. McDaniels didn’t just fail in Denver, he completely flamed out. I question Harbaugh’s sanity and if he’s actually a good offensive coach.
Editor’s Note: I think Andrew is nuts and also think Harbaugh is the second best football coach in the country.
I didn’t include college coaches because they almost all just leverage the NFL to get pay raises. The ones who do ultimately come to the league typically aren’t any good.
It’s entirely possible Fox will be back for the last year of his contract, so he’s included in this list. So are many of the usual suspects. As many would guess, I gave preference to offensive coaches because I want no part of a defensive coach handling Mitch Trubisky unless he has a proven offensive coordinator coming with him. I had a hard time pairing the top defensive coordinators with offensive guys who fit that description.
Here’s the list:
1. Sean Payton. There are a lot of reasons why this could happen and why it could be a great fit. Pace needs someone he trusts to groom his quarterback. If Payton can bring a good defensive coordinator along with him, it would be hard to argue against. The name to watch is Mike Nolan.
2. John Fox. If Fox can keep the Bears near .500 and finish 7-9, he’s a lock. Hell, even if he finishes 6-10, he’s probably coming back. He needs this to be like his first year in Denver where he builds positive momentum with his defense and running game.
3. Jim Bob Cooter. Cooter will come highly recommended by Adam Gase, a guy for whom Ryan Pace has a lot of respect. Cooter was connected to the Bears last year when it was erroneously reported that Fox would likely be fired. It’s hard to ignore how much he’s gotten out of Matt Stafford. Plus, his last name is Cooter.
4. Mike McCoy. With connections to quite a few of the people currently on the Bear staff, McCoy could be an attempt to keep continuity. He’s a guy to watch because if he has the Broncos in the top 10 offensively with Trevor Siemian at QB, he deserves another head job.
5. Ron Rivera. Cam Newton might be broken and things could get ugly for Carolina if he is. That could spell the end for Rivera who would be entering a lame duck season in 2018. Pace is familiar with Chico from competing against him in the NFC South and Rivera has a good relationship with Norv Turner, who could be the guy he taps to run his offense.
6. Dowell Loggains. The Bears have to score more points to make this possible, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility. Loggains is very well respected throughout the league and Pace has to be aware of the fact that he’s making him work with one arm tied behind his back.
7. Darrell Bevell. Has coordinated a number of top-notch offenses and developed a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Bevell’s resume is pretty impressive on paper but it’s unfortunate that Seattle management refuses to give him an offensive line. If not for the Super Bowl mistake a few years ago, he’d probably already be a coach. But his error wasn’t as bad as Kyle Shanahan’s.
8. Teryl Austin. A bright defensive mind who I could see bringing Greg Roman with him to run the offense. I’d like to see a creative coordinator like Austin work with Leonard Floyd.
9. Todd Haley. He was such a prick in Kansas City that he hasn’t gotten another sniff. But the former Bears assistant is unquestionably a bright offensive mind. Perhaps he learned from his stint in KC?
10. Pat Shurmur. Before last Sunday, the Vikings’ offense was second in yardage, twelfth in scoring and third in passing yardage despite playing two games with Case Keenum. Hell, the first game they only had Sam Bradford. If this continues, Shurmur is going to get a head job in 2018.
Other names to watch: Frank Smith, Steve Sarkisian, Todd Downing, Matt LeFleur, Scott Linehan, Alex Van Pelt.