Be Wary of the Chicago Bears


March 16, 2012; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery (center) poses for a photo after a press conference introducing wide receiver Brandon Marshall (left) and quarterback Jason Campbell at Halas Hall . Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

In the week following the firing of head coach Lovie Smith, many jokes and laughs have come at the expense of the Chicago Bears and their coaching search.

During that time, Bears General Manager Phil Emery has interviewed at least 10 (and probably more) candidates ranging from special teams coordinators to Canadian Football League coaches while avoiding most of the popular names such as Chip Kelly and John Gruden. It seems like there will be many more interviews before the Emery even approaches any candidate for a second sit down.

Laugh now, but regret it later. This is exactly what a smart organization does.

Unless a team is trying to nail down a big fish – an approach that isn’t fail-safe by any means – there is no incentive to rush a decision. Nor is there any good reason not to interview as many viable candidates as possible. It wasn’t that long ago that the Green Bay Packers were chastised for doing exactly what the Bears are doing now.

Jan 5, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy on the sidelines in the third quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Following the 2005 season, Packers general manager Ted Thompson embarked on a coaching search which involved holdover defensive coordinator Jim Bates, Maurice Carthon, Brad Childress, Ron Rivera, Wade Phillips, Sean Payton, and an out of left field candidate, Mike McCarthy.

Everyone knows who ended up with the job, and while nearly all those names have been head coaches at some point, all but perhaps Payton have failed to accomplish as much as McCarthy. McCarthy leads all the candidates the Packers considered in wins and winning percentage in the regular season and the playoffs. He, along with Payton, are the only head coaches in the group to win a Super Bowl. McCarthy has a shot at a second ring this year.

Now back to the Bears. By expanding their search outside of the expected candidates, they’ve given themselves a greater view of what is really available on the coaching market. Consequently, they may come to prefer a candidate that few fans even knew about just weeks earlier. These surprise hires may not rally a fan base, but winning with the right coach does, and it definitely outshines the afterglow of a popular but ultimately ill-advised hire.

The Bears have looked primarily at offensive coordinators, which makes sense given their woes on that side of the ball in recent years. In addition to looking at an array of candidates, Emery has been smart to also consider coaches from teams that don’t have great records. Joe DeCamillis of the Dallas Cowboys (8-8), Mike Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9), and Pete Carmichael Jr. of the New Orleans Saints (7-9) have all interviewed with the Bears this past week.

This provides another parallel to McCarthy’s hiring. McCarthy had just completed his first season as the offensive coordinator of the 4-12 San Francisco 49ers when he interviewed with Green Bay. That hire clearly worked out, and proves to show how team success is not always emblematic of the quality of assistant coaches.

We won’t know who the Bears hire for several days, and we certainly won’t know how that hire works out for several years, but all indications suggest this will be a smart hire.

A hire that should make Packers fans worry, not laugh.

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Lombardi Ave. He has previously written for Hail to the Orange, College Hoops Net, Mocking the Draft, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter at Also Like on Facebook and follow Lombardiave on Twitter.

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