Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag
You've got questions about the Bears' coaching search and the Tribune's Bears columnist has answers
Chicago Tribune reporter
12:02 p.m. CST, January 10, 2013
Bill Cowher wants to coach? Does this change Mike McCoy as the front runner? -- @danniCSNCHI, from Twitter
Just because Bill Cowher wants to coach again does not mean he wants to coach this year. Or that he wants to coach the Bears. Cowher has indicated now is not the time for his return. The presumption by people around the NFL is that if/when Cowher does return, he will seek total control over personnel. He is not going to get that in Chicago now. Some think he would only come back for one job: head coach of the Giants. Cowher's recent comments don't change anything in the Bears' coaching search.
Are the McCaskeys interfering with Phil Emery's hunt for a head coach? The suggestion by the McCaskeys to interview Mike Singletary leads me to believe that they are not going to give Emery total control in picking the next guy. If Emery does choose his own guy then that guy would be in the same position Emery was in when he took the GM job last year. He would not be able to choose his own assistants and we would not be able to gauge what the new head coach is capable of until he brings in his own people. As a long-time Bears fan I would like to see a real change in the Bears culture and to actually see a determined effort in changing their philosophy where the offense is concerned. Singletary is not the answer. -- Vern Z., Tinley Park
In my book, I don't think owners can interfere, but they can dictate. It is their right to have input, especially on major decisions like who the head coach will be. But Phil Emery is no puppet. He is running this search. He would be a fool to slam the phone down on his boss, however. I'm sure George McCaskey has his say on things. But ultimately, I believe this is Emery's show. I think McCaskey and Ted Phillips have trust in Emery and want him to be the point man. That's one of the main reasons they hired him. If Emery wants to hire a head coach McCaskey can't get comfortable with, however, Emery will move on to the next candidate.
I am really intrigued that we do not hear about Jim Caldwell for the head coaching position with the Bears. He seems to be a really good coach. Do you think he might be a good candidate? -- Arjun, Lombard
I think he would be a good candidate, and I think he might be the type of candidate who would appeal to Emery. He is a quarterback specialist who has presided over some outstanding offenses, and he has coached some very good teams. As of now, there was been no formal request by the Bears for permission to talk to Caldwell. He is busy running the Ravens offense for at least another week, but once the Ravens season ends I wouldn't be surprised to see him become a candidate.
Dan, considering the lack of talent (and I use that phrase generously) at offensive line, what are the chances a new head coach chooses a zone blocking scheme? It worked well in Denver when Mike Shanahan was coaching, and today we see the Texans as the standard bearer for that style of blocking. Given Arian Foster and Matt Forte are similar in skill set and Jay Cutler could probably run a naked bootleg play better than Matt Schaub, the move seems to make sense for me in "skill position" personnel and in helping mask the deficiencies in the O-Line. What is your assessment? -- Tom C., Columbia, Mo.
Interesting thought. I wouldn't rule it out. Especially if Emery were to settle on Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. But if you did make the switch, you might need more offensive linemen than you would otherwise. The good thing is it's easier to find blockers for a zone scheme than it is blockers for a man scheme because of supply and demand. There are way more teams that use a man scheme. There also is this to consider: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear the league is thinking about making chop blocks on running plays illegal. The backside chop is a staple of zone blocking teams, and could affect their running games significantly.
The logic seems to be that an offensive coordinator for a successful system will translate to a good fit for Bears head coach. It's not clear that the successful coordinator Joe Philbin has made much impact at Miami, granted it is his first year. How do you see it? -- Jim Grudzinski, Downers Grove
I think it would be a big mistake to look at a productive, efficient offense, and assume the offensive coordinator from that team can be an outstanding head coach. Running an offense requires a completely different skill set from being a head coach. And unless the offensive coordinator from a successful offense is going to take his players and quarterback with him, he'll have probably have to learn to skin the cat a different way to some degree. Some offensive coordinators have head coach qualities. Some do not. That is what you hope the interview process uncovers.
Dan, help me here. I realize Mike McCoy would make an excellent OC. People talk about his ability to work with a QB, to work with Jay Cutler's technique and such. However, doesn't the QB coach and possibly even the OC do that kind of work? When does a head coach get time to focus on working with a QB's footwork? -- Rick, Springfield
You raise valid concerns Rick. You can't hire a head coach simply because he is a good play caller or quarterback coach. He has to be more than that. But it sure would be ideal if you could get a candidate who is a good play caller and quarterback coach with the ability to lead, administrate, communicate and sell. That's what the Packers did when they hired Mike McCarthy. It's what the Saints did when they hired Sean Payton. It's what the Texans did when they hired Gary Kubiak. It's what the 49ers did when they hired Jim Harbaugh. But many, many other teams have tried to go down the same path and found they coach they hired wasn't everything they hoped he would be. Those coaches still get dirt under their nails doing work they did when they were assistants because nothing is more important than a productive quarterback. But they also delegate much of what they used to do to others.
Do you think the Bears are in play for Jermichael Finley of Green Bay? He would look great in blue & orange. -- @jlkreeg, from Twitter
Finley is a gifted tight end who certainly would be worth looking into. But I don't know if he would be a fit in Chicago. Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who called Finley an "idiot," and fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher, who suggested the Packers were better off without Finley, probably don't think Finley would be a fit. Finley is somewhat of a colorful personality, and you would have to consider how he would fit in with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and company. He probably will not come cheaply, and the Bears might not want to make that kind of investment in a tight end who has never been to a Pro Bowl. And if anyone thinks a new team can get more out of Finley than the Packers did, they should be reminded that Finley won't have Aaron Rodgers throwing to him should he leave Green Bay.
If the third best left tackle and the No. 1 tight end on the Bears' board are available at pick No. 20, which way should they go, assuming they don't pick up a free agent at either position? -- Mike Nichols, DeKalb
In addition to rating each player at each position, the Bears also have an overall board that rates every player in the draft regardless of position. There also is this to consider -- in some years, the No. 3 tackle on the board looks like a future hall of famer; in other years, he looks like a marginal starter. So as always, the Bears should draft the higher-rated player. And they shouldn't pass up a player at another position who is rated significantly higher, even if it isn't a position of glaring need. If you want to assume the left tackle and tight are rated equally and are rated as highly as any players on the board, I would take the left tackle. A left tackle is more critical to an offense than a tight end.
Coming off his first Pro Bowl nod, how good do you think Henry Melton can be ultimately? Better than Tommie Harris before his injuries? Can he be the best defensive tackle in the NFL? Also, he has to be our No 1 priority when it comes to re-signing our own players, right? -- Charles Laughton, New London, Conn.
The thing about Henry Melton that is unusual is he still has considerable room for growth at the age of 26 and four years into his NFL career. So I would expect him to keep getting better. I'm not sure he'll ever be better than, say, Ndamukong Suh, who is in another league talent wise. But he should remain among the best defensive tackles in the league. As for the comparison to Harris, he was a special, special player before his injuries. It is possible Melton can be that kind of player. Considering he was a fourth round selection, Melton may have been Jerry Angelo's best draft pick.