There are a bushel full of reasons why the Bears hiring a head coach before they hire a general manager most likely would be a massive mistake.
The most obvious, of course, would be trying to convince the new GM that he has unfettered control of the football operation, as team chairman George McCaskey has assured us he will, but he won’t be allowed to make the most important football hire there is.
My next biggest concern would be uncertainty over whether the Bears’ current list of head coach candidates was even complete before a decision was made.
If you look at this weekend’s divisional playoffs, three of the league’s most successful coaches this season – the Rams’ Sean McVay, Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor – were all unconventional hires. And all were made in the past five seasons at young ages – at least by NFL head coach standards – when many of the top GMs working didn’t even have them on their radar.
McVay had only one season each with Tampa Bay and Washington as an offensive assistant, three seasons as the tight ends coach in Washington and three as the offensive coordinator when the Rams made him the NFL’s youngest head coach at 31.
LaFleur trained as the QBs coach under 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan – another early achiever and one of the NFL’s brightest young coaches also working this weekend – for only two seasons. He spent one year as McVay’s offensive coordinator in LA and one season as Titans head coach Mike Vrabel’s offensive coordinator – a fifth of the eight head coaches still working – when the Packers hired him.
Taylor worked only one year as an assistant wide receivers coach and one as the QBs coach under McVay when he became the most surprising hire of all by the Bengals.
Let’s call them the young guns, and there are none currently on the Bears’ list of interview requests.
Not only should the GM have the final say on his first head coach, he should be able to add candidates to the list if he thinks they are deserving of at least a deeper dive.
There are at least four young coaches my sources around the league are excited about now who I’d like to know a lot more about:
Kevin O’Connell, Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator (36): O’Connell, a former QB, was drafted by New England in the third round of the 2008 draft, and although he only stayed a year, I love any coach with experience in the “Patriot Way.”
He’s had a year as quarterbacks coach in Cleveland and Washington, one year as passing game coordinator and one as offensive coordinator in Washington. He has spent the past two seasons as McVay’s offensive coordinator.
Mike McDaniel, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator (38): McDaniel has a Yale education and has been studying under Shanahan, logging two years with him as an offensive assistant in Atlanta and then following him to San Francisco to spend four seasons as his run-game coordinator before taking over as the offensive coordinator this season.
Luke Getsy, Green Bay Packers passing-game coordinator (37): Getsy spent two years as a quality control coach and two as the Packers’ wide receivers coach under Mike McCarthy. He then went to Mississippi State for a year to be the offensive coordinator and then returned to the NFL to be the QBs coach and passing-game coordinator when LaFleur was hired in Green Bay.
Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers run-game coordinator (38): Stenavich trained under Shanahan for two seasons as an assistant offensive line coach before joining LaFleur to coach the offensive line and become the run-game coordinator.
O’Connell already has interviews with the Broncos, Vikings and Texans. The Dolphins are sniffing around McDaniel. The Broncos also have interviewed Getsy, while Stenavich waits for a call.
It’s not that the Bears don’t already have a quality list, they do, and there are several men on it I like a lot.
It’s just that this feels like a whole category that’s missing, and that feels like a mistake.
As a matter of fact I’m not so sure a lengthy sit down with a young gun of their own, Sean Desai, wouldn’t be a good idea too.
• Hub Arkush is a Shaw Media correspondent.