Why the Vikings’ George Edwards makes sense as the Bears’ next head coach

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Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards will interview with the Bears on Thursday. (AP)

The Bears will interview Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards for their head coaching vacancy Thursday in Minnesota.

Here’s why the 50-year-old makes sense as John Fox’s replacement:

• They’re the best. Edwards’ Vikings defense is the best in football. No one has allowed fewer yards than their 275.9 per game or fewer points than their 15.8 per game. Their high draft picks developed into stars, something that must entice general manager Ryan Pace, who has first-round pick Leonard Floyd still searching for health and an inkling to draft another pass-rusher or cornerback in three months.

Still, the bet here is the Bears prefer an offensive mind as head coach.

• There’s a catch. Edwards doesn’t call the plays. Head coach Mike Zimmer, a former defensive coordinator, does.

“He really does everything for me, other than, I call the plays on Sunday,” Zimmer said last week. “I may change that next year. But anyway, George does everything. He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on. He studies the game just like he’s calling the game, so he’ll come in and talk to me about second down and whatever, they’re doing this or they’re doing that.”

It’s up to the Bears to determine the day-to-day role Edwards has in the defense, and how that would translate to the role of head coach.

While Zimmer has talked up his coach as a head-coaching candidate, an interview will further shed light of his responsibilities.

•He’s well-respected. Edwards was on the NFL’s recommended list of candidates for head coaching vacancies as well as the one assembled by the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which helps connect teams with minority candidates. He served as the West team’s head coach in last year’s East-West Shrine Game.

With the exception of a one-year stint with the Florida Gators in 2010, Edwards coached in the NFL since 1998. He serving as the Redskins’ defensive coordinator in 2003 and the Bills’ defensive coordinator from 2010-11.

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•It’s convenient — and it might bear fruit later. The Bears — who, it’s worth repeating, are placing value on hiring on offensive mind as their head coach —are scheduled to talk to Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur after Edwards. Because the Bears have to fly to Minnesota anyway, it only makes sense. Edwards is reportedly in the final year of his contract, so the Bears could try to lure him as a coordinator if they find someone else as head coach. Whether Edwards would leave could depend on whether he calls plays for the Vikings next year. Zimmer has openly flirted with giving up play-calling next year.

• He knows about Mitch. What better way to find out more about quarterback Mitch Trubisky than to ask someone who’s tasked with stopping him twice a year? As with Shurmur, it never hurts to get a peek behind the curtain of a division rival. The Bears can learn not only what the Vikings defense does, but what Edwards thinks of Trubisky.

Edwards also satisfies the NFL’s Rooney Rule; should the Bears move quickly on their hire — and it’s doubtful they’ll be able to, given the playoff schedules of their five others candidates — they will have be in good standing with the league.


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