- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune and I absolutely see eye-to-eye on his views on the new Bear head coach, whoever that may be:
“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.”
These are my thoughts exactly. Its not that people like Hub Arkush who are disappointed more defensive coordinators or coaches without a quarterback coaching background like Ken Whisenhunt haven’t been interviewed don’t have a point. They do. Your head coach has to be a leader above all.
But if possible the Bears need a coach who will permanently fix the quarterback position. I’m not just talking about Jay Cutler. That would be too short-sighted. I’m talking about developing future quarterbacks for years beyond that.
If you are counting on hiring an assistant coach like that, you are inevitably going to lose him to another team in search of a head coach. And finding one isn’t a trivial task as Lovie Smith could tell you. Doing it once would be hard. Doing it more than once would be much, much harder.
In my view the ideal model is the Ted Thompson-Mike McCarthy relationship in Green Bay. It’s not an ideal that would be easy to achieve. But I think you need to shoot for it or something similar. That means a head coach who can coach quarterbacks if at all possible.
- Dan McNeil at the Chicago Tribune makes a fair point about the emotional upheaval surrounding the Bears head coaching search:
“If it’s fair to postpone the evaluation of a draft class for at least two seasons, it also is fair to be open-minded to a veteran assistant coach getting his first crack at serving as headmaster.
“A head coaching search, coupled with the roster overhaul Emery has in front of him, give me ample reasons to be patient with Emery. It would be silly to gnash teeth and wring hands over the virtual unknown who’s going to stand at the lectern answering questions about his new job sometime in the next couple of weeks.
“Somebody will, but it won’t be me. I wanted Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith jettisoned long ago.
“I have nothing but time and patience for the Bears to keep evolving.”
- I’m impressed that Bears general manager Phil Emery thought to interview Marc Trestman (From the NFL Network via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune).
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com thinks Bruce Arians makes a lot of sense as the next Bears head coach:
“Arians makes plenty of sense for the Bears, given that they have a quarterback who is a bit of a handful in Jay Cutler. Arians has extensive experience dealing with a difficult quarterback. In Pittsburgh, Arians and Ben Roethlisberger didn’t simply coexist; they were close friends.
So when job No. 1 (or close to it) in Chicago is finding a coach who can work well with Cutler, Arians could be the right answer.”
Whether Cutler actually needs a friend as a coach is a legitimate question. But I tend to agree with Florio that Arians is a good candidate for the job.
- Former NFL head coach Marv Levy makes a good point via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times:
“‘The general manager of the Alouettes told me that when I went to Canada, I could have 12 men on the [field]. Then I found out the other teams could, too,’ Levy said with a chuckle. ‘The same things win. It isn’t the Wildcat offense or this or that. If you run, throw, block, tackle, catch and kick better than your opponent — the fundamentals.'”
I’m as guilty as anyone of concentrating too much on X’s and O’s and they are a factor. But I think everyone should always keep in mind that the major difference between winning and losing is good fundamental football and, I might point out, making sure the defese played good fundamental football may have been Lovie Smith‘s biggest strength. Let’s hope, whoever the new head coach is, that we don’t see a step back in that area.
- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Vikings coaches Mike Piefer and former Bears middle linebacker Mike Singletary will interview for the head coaching position.
Pompei indicates that Singletary’s inclusion on the list may be at the suggestion of the McCaskey family which wouldn’t be a surprise.
David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune is off base with this assessment:
“That is the message for whatever Halas Hall meddler coaxed Emery into adding Bears legend and Vikings linebacker coach Mike Singletary to the growing list of candidates for the head-coaching position. This could not have been Emery’s idea or else we all have been terribly fooled in Chicago. When did Emery start letting his heart overrule his head?”
Singletary’s not a bad candidate. There was a time when I would have done hand springs to see the Bears interview an ex-player. He’s a bright guy and the odds are good he learned a great deal from his failures in San Francisco. Singletary’s got the same problem Dennison has. No experience coaching quarterbacks. But other than that he’s a fine candidate. Pompei put it best:
“Granted, Singletary is a long shot, but he has earned the opportunity at least to sit before Emery.
“In addition to being one of the greatest players to wear a C on his helmet, Singletary also was the best leader I’ve ever seen on the Bears.
“And isn’t the head coach position primarily about leadership?”
- Houston head coach Gary Kubiac thinks its high time Bears head coaching candidate Rick Dennison got such a job. The Bears are the only team to interview him so far. Via Florio:
“‘I think he’s been ready for awhile,’ Kubiak told reporters on Monday. ‘I think Rick is a very smart guy. He’s selective. I’ve been called on him for about three years in a row now, but I think Rick knows what he wants to do with his life and if he’s going to take an opportunity to be a head coach, he’s going to be selective in what he does. He’s got a great background in the National Football League. He’s a 10-year defensive player in the National Football League. He’s been a special teams coach in the National Football League. He’s been an offensive line coach. He’s been an offensive coordinator. There’s nothing this guy hasn’t done.'”
Except be a quarterback coach. And that’s a problem in a quarterback-driven league.
- Jensen passes along what Cutler said on his weekly radio show. I found Cutler’s phasing when asked about current Denver offensive coordinator and Bears head coaching candidate Mike McCoy interesting to say the least:
“I think we had two meetings together, and then [the Broncos] kicked me out… I liked Mike. Knows a lot about football, very flexible.”
As I remember Cutler wasn’t “kicked out”. He ran away and quit. Interesting how his mind works.
“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.”
- Pompei runs through the long list of players whose fate at least partly depends on who the new head coach is. The most intriguing will be Brian Urlacher. It used to be that cutting Urlacher would be a problem with the fans. But given that Urlacher felt the need to express his true feelings by trashing them in the media late in the season (without an apology), that shouldn’t be a problem now. Hopefully they’ll do what they think is best without making the mistake of thinking this is still a consideration.
- Pompei answers your questions:
“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.”
Melton is good but he will almost certainly never be Tommie Harris. The Bears will never miss Melton the way they missed Harris after he was injured. The defense was never the same after he went down.
- Biggs points out that special teams coordinator Dave Toub is in demand as he interviews for the same poisiton with the Panthers and Chiefs. That’s fine but, as Biggs points out, Toub is under contract here and I’d say he’s going nowhere unless the new head coach doesn’t want him – and I’m thinking there’s a fair chance that he will.
- According to Sam Farmer at the Los Angeles Tribune Saturday’s game against the Packers is being seen as a referendum on 49ers head coach Jm Harbaugh‘s decision to replace quarterback Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick earlier in the season:
“Harbaugh chose the path of greater resistance, and in the process bumped up the stakes.
“‘If it all blows up on Saturday, that will take a lot of goodwill out of the bank,’ [former 49ers quarerback Steve] Young said. ‘Now, that doesn’t change much. I mean, [Harbaugh] is still going to be around, still going to be a great coach. But it’s a high-risk situation.'”
- Pompei has the Packers ranked second in his power rankings. I like the Packers but that’s awfully high for a team with a suspect defense. The Packers are going to have to continue to play the kind of good fundamental ball I saw last week against the Vikings before I’ll believe. I think Pompei is right on the button with the first ranked Broncos and, like Pompei, I like the Seahawks a lot better than most people seem to.
- The schematic Xs and Os that former NFL safety Matt Bowen writes up for the Chicago Tribune are always interesting but I thought this article breaking down the Packers offensive options against the 49ers pressure was particularly good.
- This Audible from Pro Football Weekly has the ring of truth:
“Jon Gruden wants full control. It’s the same as Bill Cowher and Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells and any established coach worth his salt who is considering coming back. The problem is — there are not a lot of GMs that want to concede that authority. Why do you think Mike Holmgren is backing down and saying he’ll be happy to just coach?”
- Toni Monkovic at The New York Times provides a thoughtful commentary on the decision by Redskins head coach Mike Shannahan to leave quarterback Robert Griffin III in the game against the Seattle Seahawks. Monkovic quotes Patrick Hubry of Sports on Earth, who relates this story about a player who almost died while in college::
“A priest administered last rites. Following kidney removal surgery, his football coach told him he would never play again. He was lucky to be alive. He responded by petitioning the school to be allowed to suit up. The player’s name? Mike Shanahan.”
- Pitty the girlfriends, NFL fans.
- Mike Shannahan and Dr. James Andrews join the Quarterbacks on Facebook via profootballmock.com.
One Final Thought
My mother of all people sent me this joke. A little to close to the truth over the last year if you ask me…
The coach had put together the perfect team for the Chicago Bears. The only thing that was missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted all the colleges and even the Canadian and European Leagues, but he couldn’t find a ringer who could ensure a Super Bowl win.
Then one night while watching CNN he saw a war-zone scene in Afghanistan. In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Afghan Muslim soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight into a 15th story window 100 yards away.
He threw another hand-grenade 75 yards away, right into a chimney.
Then he threw another at a passing car going 90 mph.
“I’ve got to get this guy!” Coach said to himself. “He has the perfect arm!”
So, he brings him to the States, teaches him the great game of football and the Bears go on to win the Super Bowl.
The young Afghan is hailed as the great hero of football, and when the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his mother.
“Mom,” he says into the phone, “I just won the Super Bowl!”
“I don’t want to talk to you, says the old Muslim woman.”You are not my son!”
“I don’t think you understand, Mother,” the young man pleads. “I’ve won the greatest sporting event in the world. I’m here among thousands of adoring fans.”
“No! Let me tell you!” his mother retorts. “At this very moment, there are gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your sister in the house so she doesn’t get raped!” The old lady pauses, and then tearfully says,
“I will never forgive you for making us move to Chicago!!!!”