If chairman George McCaskey knows what he wants in the Bears’ next head coach, he’s not saying.
McCaskey wouldn’t rule anyone out Monday, regardless of years of experience or which side of the ball a candidate has coached on. The closest he came was listing traits he’d like the Bears to have under their new leadership.
“Tough. Gritty. Smart. Opportunistic. Winning football,” McCaskey said.
That’s not a mandate. That’s whiteboard brainstorming by a corporate middle manager during Team Building Exercise ’22.
It would have been easy for McCaskey to say he wanted someone who would work hand-in-hand with quarterback Justin Fields in his second season. The fact that he didn’t gives credence to the notion the Bears won’t repeat their 2018 strategy with Matt Nagy: hiring a head coach to be the play-caller and develop a young passer.
Nonetheless, McCaskey so stubbornly refused to list his preferences that he even said the Bears wouldn’t make a coach’s belief in Fields a prerequisite for getting the job. That’s impossible to believe; there’s no way they would spend two No. 1 draft picks on a promising rookie QB only to pair him with a coach who didn’t share their conviction in him.
So, what does McCaskey want in a coach? The better question is: What does his next general manager want?
Until then, McCaskey is left to spout vague nothings when he looks into his crystal ball.
“For head coach, we will not be limited by philosophy, scheme, whether a candidate’s background is on the offensive side of the ball, defensive or special teams, whether a candidate has previous head-coaching experience, whether a candidate’s background is in the college game or the pro game, or financial considerations,” McCaskey said.
The Bears’ wide-ranging candidate list reflects that mindset.
They put in a request to interview Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for their coaching vacancy, a source confirmed Tuesday morning. Bowles, who already has interviewed for the Jaguars’ opening, came close to being the Bears’ defensive coordinator three years ago before he chose to join his friend Bruce Arians, the Bucs’ head coach, instead of Nagy. Nagy’s father coached Bowles in high school.
A source confirmed the Bears also want to talk to former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who was the NFL’s biggest surprise firing Monday.
The Bears also reportedly requested an interview with Nathaniel Hackett, the Packers’ offensive coordinator the last three years. (Hackett doesn’t call plays.) Bowles’ offensive counterpart in Tampa, Byron Leftwich, and Bills coordinators Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier are on the list, too; the Bears have to wait until their playoff games are completed this weekend to conduct those interviews.
McCaskey, who’s a member of the NFL’s workplace diversity committee, said he has a commitment to a “fair process” but not necessarily “a particular result, as long as people get a fair shake.”
Taking the time to bizarrely tout advisor Bill Polian’s new book, McCaskey said the Bears don’t have to hire a warm-and-fuzzy coach. He said a trend that Polian found in examining championship teams was a coach who demanded respect.
“They don’t have to like him, they don’t have to love him, but they respect him,” he said. “So the primary quality we’ll be looking for in both the general manager and the head coach is leadership.”
The Bears’ next leader will have to be good at leading? Got it.