Since Lovie Smith was fired on the final day of 2012, the Chicago Bears’ search for a new Head Coach can be summed up in one word: multiple. General Manager Phil Emery is exploring all options, from various teams and various backgrounds. Most of the candidates (up to 12 by my count) come from an offensive perspective, which is no surprise when you look at the team’s struggles on that side of the football. As the search wages on, it’s theme will go from ‘multiple’ to ‘one’. At some point Emery will have to make his choice.
Although some may not like Emery’s “interview everybody” approach, this big of a decision warrants such caution and open perspective. The Bear franchise is in a complicated position right now. Besides their coach of the last 9 years getting the axe, the team faces plenty of personnel decisions, including Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher and quarterback Jay Cutler. Emery will get his chance soon to make his mark in the personnel department, as free agency and the draft are right around the corner (I’ll take any one of Alabama’s offensive linemen please). However, it is imperative he finds the right man to lead his team on the field. Bear fans are used to the safe, above average teams of Smiths era, and if Phil hires a dud, it could be a rough adjustment. No one wants to see the late 90′s/early 2000′s Bears (other than ’01 of course) ever again. With that, lets dive into my three candidates that are both realistic and would be a great fit.
Mike McCoy, Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator
One of the hotter names on the head coach market right now, McCoy has teamed up with Peyton Manning to lead a prolific passing offense in Denver, elevating the Broncos to the number one seed in the AFC. Clearly, much of the Broncos’ offensive success can be attributed to the addition of the Hall of Famer Manning. But McCoy has proven that he can do it with any quarterback, ranging from names such as Tim Tebow to Kyle Orton. The ability to experience success with multiple quarterbacks, and specifically different styles of quarterbacks, is definitely a sign of a good offensive mind, and explains why McCoy’s name has surfaced all over the place. The question is, can McCoy be an NFL head coach? I would say yes. He’s been an NFL coach for 13 years now, and has certainly paid his dues. He’s currently on a team that values defense, which would sit well with Emery. All in all, McCoy would be a good hire for the Bears.
Rick Dennison, Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator
The ‘human update’ Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the Bears will interview Dennison, and he is certainly an interesting candidate. Like McCoy, he has paid his dues: this is his 18th season as an NFL coach, including 15 of those with the Denver Broncos. For three of those seasons, he was Denver’s offensive coordinator, with a quarterback named Jay Cutler, and a wide receiver named Brandon Marshall. Cutler enjoyed his finest years with Dennison, including his 4,500-yard year in 2008. Dennison currently runs the Texans offense, which has featured a very effective zone running game since he took over. Of course, this would be an adjustment to the Bears’ more downhill running scheme, and will be a factor in Dennison’s candidacy. Similar to McCoy, he is also with an organization that values the defensive side of the ball, which will earn him points with Emery. Although the Houston ‘O’ struggled last week, I view Dennison as someone who caters to his teams strengths (Arian Foster in the zone scheme-perfect), and would be a solid Head Coach for the Bears in all phases.
Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator
Finally, Mr. Arians. Phil Emery may interview each candidate equally, but I’m not going to write about them that way. This would be what you call a home-run hire. Even before Bruce stepped in for the sick Chuck Pagano and helped lead the Colts to the playoffs, he had an awesome resume. Developing quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and now Andrew Luck, he has shown an impressive track record with developing the most important position on the field. After serving as Manning’s QB coach in Indy, Arians went on to be the OC of the Cleveland Browns and then the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he won two Super Bowls. As the Steeler coordinator, Arians helped Roethlisberger’s career take off with an aggressive passing scheme. That scheme was mirrored with Luck and the Colts this year, leading them to a surprise playoff berth. Arians’ time in Pittsburgh showed him that a championship defense is necessary along with an offense that can keep up in the pass-happy NFL of today. This balance will have to impress Emery, and I really don’t think there is a more complete candidate for the Bears right now. It would seem the Colts will do everything in their power to keep him, but as a Bear fan one can only hope he has an appetite to run an NFL team.
If you’re Phil Emery, it certainly is good to have options, and he has identified plenty of them. But at some point, it will be time to go from good options to the option. And in that case, there’s only one.
Phil, go get Bruce Arians.