The Chicago Bears have a tilt with the division-rival Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. It is presumed to be the last time either Matt Nagy or Mike Zimmer will be roaming the sidelines for either team. That is if overhaul rumors are true. At least for the hosting Bears, the smoke rises well above the coaching fire.
Reports from various sources have come out in recent weeks that the Bears have already begun preliminary information gathering. Head coaches were the topic but we have since gotten reports that team president Ted Phillips could shift roles.
Phillips, an accountant by trade, would oversee the massive project to finalize the purchase and development of property in nearby suburban Arlington Park.
If Overhaul Rumors are True, Here is Who the Chicago Bears Should Hire
Start at the Top
The Bears have the right idea in having a businessman running the operation. However, the businesses of football and finance, while intertwined, couldn’t be more different; as Phillips has shown. 2020 marked the first year the organization saw a drop in year-to-year revenue, going from $477 million in 2019 to $370 million in 2020 thanks to the pandemic.
With Philips out of the way, the Bears can bring in the “football guys” Philips and team chairman George McCaskey claimed Nagy and Ryan Pace were at their press conference to end last season.
Many teams have gone with former players in these roles with John Elway manning the station for the Denver Broncos while the Seattle Seahawks have Pete Carroll pulling double duty.
Carroll is technically his boss’ boss as general manager John Schneider reports to him.
That reportedly led to some friction this past offseason after rumors surfaced that Carroll nixed a trade that would have sent Russell Wilson to the Bears; a decision that seemed wise at the time but with the Seahawks at 5-8 and last in their division, could be considered a misstep. If they opt to move Wilson this offseason it will be at somewhat of a discount.
Someone like Joe Hortiz of the Baltimore Ravens would be a good fit.
He has been neither player nor coach. But he has been in the thick of one of the most stable and well-run organizations for 20 years.
Whichever route the Bears take, that person has to better balance relationships with shrewdness. The Bears have far too often been heavy on the former and light on the latter for decades.
Coach Nagy is meeting with the media.@Hyundai | #DaBears https://t.co/PSUnso978z
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 16, 2021
There has been much consternation over the future of Ryan Pace. NBC Sports Chicago’s Adam Hoge did a pro-con exercise on the matter. In the end, it’s tough to see a path to separation for Pace from Nagy after all of the talk of collaboration and back-patting following the drafting of Justin Fields in the offseason.
Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune wrote about Pace avoiding confrontation, almost to a fault, in his deep-dive (subscription required) into the faults in the Bears organizational structure.
Even if Fields is a hit that won’t excuse the coaching hires – unless they put John Fox on themselves in which case, bring on the complete front office overhaul as planned.
There are myriad other misses including his first swing at a franchise passer.
Mitchell Trubisky’s performance in the preseason and Leonard Floyd’s with the Los Angeles Rams cast doubt in Pace’s favor over how their time in Chicago played out. But Pace has routinely overpaid for veterans while undervaluing the cheap labor he is supposed to be good at finding.
Avoiding conflict, which is inevitable in any business, and self-sabotaging is a bad and losing combination.
Someone like Ed Dodds of the Indianapolis Colts could make sense here.
He spent time with the Seahawks as a scout helping find Wilson and build the Legion of Boom. Dodds helped Chris Ballard get the Colts through surprisingly losing Andrew Luck. They’ve gotten back competitive in the AFC in short order.
Competition for Dodds will be stiff so. Landing him would be a boon for this franchise. They need positive vibes as they prepare for a potential future relocation.
Xs and Os
We’ve done the most extensive work in laying out why Nagy shouldn’t return for a fifth season. Whether it’s his handling of the roster or winning football games, he just hasn’t shown anything to suggest that a turnaround is on the horizon. Not even with the promise that Fields brings.
His remarks about having fun at halftime against the Green Bay Packers sounded about as resigned to fate as one can get.
It is fair to wonder if he will land on a staff after so many things have gone wrong under him.
The Bears are 28th in points and 31st in yards. They have only once ranked in the top-10 in points. That was back in 2018 when they finished ninth. They’ve never ranked higher than 21st in yards, either. That was also in 2018.
Their game plans have shown little variation regardless of who is under center. This despite some very different styles of passer lining up for them. Not even a rash of COVID that has already cost multiple players games as well as caused Nagy to miss a game is an excuse.
Brian Daboll and Kellen Moore are hot names. But both the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys have struggled to run the football when they needed to.
Byron Leftwich has been mentioned. But there is a good chance he gets a look from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He could even be on a succession plan in Tampa.
Josh McDaniels’ personality might not play and, as we see from the Jags, that matters.
Many of the other top offenses are such thanks to offensive-minded head coaches. That could lead the Bears to someone like Baltimore’s Greg Roman. A combination of him and Minnesota’s Klint Kubiak on offense would be a sight to behold with Fields and David Montgomery as the battery.
Justin Fields: "(Teven Jenkins) wanted to play better than he did. But that being his first game, it's not going to be perfect. I just told him everything is going to be fine. … My first start, I had one net passing yard. It's going to get better."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) December 16, 2021
Finishing the Bears Overhaul Strong
Sean Desai may very well wind up being a very good defensive coordinator or more in this league. But, while the 2021-22 Bears rank ninth in yards allowed, they are 24th in scoring defense. Much of that is due to injuries. The secondary was bad from the start of the season too after the team cut Kyle Fuller.
At any rate, an overhaul would include Desai with little to suggest he should stay.
New Orleans’ Aaron Glenn and Pittsburgh’s Teryl Austin have also been touted as candidates for other openings in recent years.
Under this plan, though, the Bears might be better off going with a strong figure at defensive coordinator. Not because Roman is particularly young at 49 years old. But, as a would-be rookie head coach, it would behoove him to get someone who can handle that side of the ball, at least to start his tenure.
The Bears better hope Vic Fangio is relieved of his duties in Denver and would return.
Chicago would do well to put a staff together of Hortiz (who has mostly garnered interest as a general manager) and Dodds in the front office along with a coaching staff of Roman, Kubiak, and Fangio.
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