Buckle Up - we may be in for a long search
He's got some good points here....
Just because the Bears and Lovie Smith didn’t go deep into the postseason doesn’t mean the search for his successor won’t.
Look for the stream of news, near-news and faux news to go on for a while as far the Bears’ coaching search. General manager Phil Emery’s stress of the word “thorough” says that this will not be a hurried process.
The last time the Bears rushed through a head-coaching search was 20 years ago when Dave Wannstedt was the hot “get” and Michael McCaskey made landing Wannstedt a mission statement. Don’t look for brother George pushing Emery to follow the same methodology.
Candidate-watching: One with a Cutler “connection”
Colleague Dave Zangaro at CSNHouston.com is busy with a playoff team this week but shot me a note regarding an intriguing name in the coaching spectrum:
Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
Dennison can’t be talked to about jobs until either the Texans are eliminated from the playoffs or during the off-week before the Super Bowl. And he rightly brushed off head-coach questions this week.
But here’s the intriguing deal with Dennison: He may have arguably the best resume of any candidate under consideration.
He was Jay Cutler’s offensive coordinator in Denver when Cutler was having his one Pro Bowl season. That was under Mike Shanahan and with Jeremy Bates as quarterbacks/receivers coach, so Cutler was raised by committee.
More to the overall, Dennison was a linebacker with the Broncos for eight seasons. Then he was the Broncos’ special-teams coach, offensive line coach and coordinator before joining former teammate Gary Kubiak’s staff in Houston.
If you’re keeping score, that would be experience in all three on-field phases of football. And given the development of Matt Schaub along with the 2011 scramble with Matt Leinart and T.J. Yates after Schaub was injured, Dennison is nothing if not an adapter.
Don’t put the name into the Bears’ mix just yet. There are enough of those swirling around. But if working with Cutler is a job requirement, Dennison is the only coordinator who’s still coordinating after time with Cutler.
More candidates for Emery to consider
Keith Armstrong: One of the premier special teams coaches in the NFL, Armstrong has some unique ties to the Bears. He was the team’s special teams coach under Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron from 1997 through 2000. And he worked with Bears general manager Phil Emery in Atlanta. Armstrong has been with the Falcons since 2008. He also has worked as a defensive assistant.
Brian Billick: He led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XXXV and has a career record of 85-67, but he has not found another head coaching job since the Ravens fired him after the 2007 season. He is an offensive-minded coach who is from the Bill Walsh school. Dennis Green also was an influence. Several coaches who worked under Billick went on to become head coaches, including Mike Tice, Mike Smith, Mike Singletary, Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan, Marvin Lewis and Jack Del Rio. Billick currently is an analyst for Fox and an author.
Jim Caldwell: Peyton Manning's former quarterback guru compiled a 26-22 record as head coach of the Colts before getting fired after last season (his record was 24-8 before Manning missed the 2011 season). He spent most of this season as the Ravens' quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator. He is a little similar to Lovie Smith in that he is a Tony Dungy disciple with a mild-mannered demeanor.
Rob Chudzinski: The Bears interviewed him for their offensive coordinator position three years ago. He eventually went to the Panthers, where he was responsible for the quick development of Cam Newton in 2011. Chudzinski is from the Norv Turner school of offense.
Jack Del Rio: He went 68-71 in nine years as the Jaguars’ head coach and was fired after the 2011 season. Del Rio, a good NFL middle linebacker for 12 years, has had great success this year as the Broncos' defensive coordinator. Among the coaches who have influenced him is Mike Ditka, for whom he worked in New Orleans.
Kirk Ferentz: This Bill Belichick disciple and former Browns and Ravens assistant has had numerous chances to leave Iowa but never has been interested in making the jump. It could be different now that his son James, the Hawkeyes' center, is graduating. He has a 100-74 record at Iowa.
Perry Fewell: The former Bears secondary coach under Lovie Smith has had a nice run as defensive coordinator of the Giants and Bills. He also served as interim head coach of the Bills in 2009, going 3-4 after Dick Jauron was fired.
Jay Gruden: Jon Gruden's brother is a fine offensive mind in his own right, and his development of Andy Dalton in Cincinnati makes him an attractive head coaching candidate. Jay is regarded as a mellower version of his brother. He is an Arena Football League legend, having won four Arena Bowls as a player and two as a head coach.
Todd Haley: This is an interesting name because he worked with Emery in Kansas City. Whether that would help or hurt his chances for the Bears job is unknown, but Haley had a bitter falling-out with Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who remains an adviser to Emery. Haley, who worked in Chicago as a wide receivers coach under Dick Jauron, has had mixed results as the Steelers' offensive coordinator this year.
Brian Kelly: He appears to be content at Notre Dame, but it would be a coup for the Bears to bring in Kelly after his successful 2012 season. In his coaching career at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, Kelly’s record is 199-66-2.
Dirk Koetter: He went 66-44 as a head coach at Arizona State and Boise State, but it is his work with Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense this year that has Koetter being discussed as a top head coaching candidate. He previously was the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, where he worked with Mike Tice.
Winston Moss: The assistant head coach and inside linebackers coach of the Packers played linebacker for the Bucs, Raiders and Seahawks. Mike McCarthy recognizes Moss' strong leadership ability and gives him responsibilities not always given to an assistant. When McCarthy decided he needed a new defensive staff in 2009, Moss was the only significant assistant he retained.
Mike Nolan: The former 49ers head coach could get another chance to run a team in part because of the success he has had with the Falcons this season. Nolan had three losing seasons as coach of the 49ers before being fired midway through his fourth year. He has been a defensive coordinator for seven teams and is widely respected as one of the premier defensive minds in the NFL.
Greg Roman: He has done nice work with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers, but he also benefits from working with quarterback guru Jim Harbaugh. He has a varied background, having coached different positions and even working on defense and in strength and conditioning.
Mike Singletary: The former 49ers head coach at least should be given the courtesy of an interview given his contributions to the Bears as a player. Singletary was a Hall of Fame middle linebacker but couldn't turn around the 49ers in 2 1/2 seasons as their head coach. He’s currently the linebackers coach and assistant head coach of the Vikings.
Kyle Shanahan: The son of Mike Shanahan is credited with helping develop Robert Griffin III. He also had success with Matt Schaub and Rex Grossman. He is only 33 but has been an NFL assistant for nine years. In addition to working under his father, he also has worked for Jon Gruden and Gary Kubiak.
Dave Toub: The longtime Bears special teams coach deserves consideration for the head coaching job based on the success he has had under Lovie Smith. He has strong leadership skills, is well-liked and knows the lay of the land. Toub is ready to be a head coach. If Emery wants to make a clean break from the Smith regime, it will work against Toub.
Mike Zimmer: The defensive coordinator of the Bengals is a Chicago-area native, having attended Lockport High School and Illinois State. He has a connection with Emery, having worked with him in Atlanta for one season. Zimmer has run 3-4 and 4-3 fronts and is a well-respected strategist who is from the Bill Parcells tree.