Numbers grow in Bears coaching search, but 'target' difficult to ID

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Numbers grow in Bears coaching search, but 'target' difficult to ID

General manager Phil Emery promised that his search for the next Bears head coach would be thorough. If quantity is any indication, Emerys search already is close to qualifying as such.But while the number of candidates continues to grow almost daily, and it says that Emery was sincere when he said last week that no one is excluded, it is reasonable to wonder whether the Bears were certain they could do better when they fired Lovie Smith.The lineup of more than a dozen candidates suggests that a change was set in motion without a short list already developed. The search continues to be more shotgun than rifle, not necessarily a bad thing or even surprising for someone (Emery) going through the process for the first time.By contrast, when the Bears fired Mike Ditka after 1992, the consensus hot candidate was then-Dallas defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt. Bears President Michael McCaskey had a short list but the clear target was Wannstedt and McCaskey simply out-hustled the New York Giants for him.The 2013 market is different and the Bears are in play with several of the current hot candidates: Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman.Besides current Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub, former colleague Dan Pompei over at the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that Mike Singletary is also on the guest list for Halas Hall, along with Mike Priefer, special teams coach for the Minnesota Vikings. Singletary, also an assistant head coachlinebackers with the Vikings under coach Leslie Frazier, was sought as an assistant by Dick Jauron but was nixed by then-general manager Jerry Angelo.Singletary subsequently went on to coach the San Francisco 49ers for a couple of seasons, leaving with an 18-22 record that included the 2008 season with Mike Martz as his offensive coordinator.
Critiquing candidatesPhil Emery made it abundantly clear that his new coach will be someone who comes in with an ability to work with what he has, in addition to working with Emery on personnel additions. Some of the candidates pose interesting issues in the work-with area.Bruce Arians would bring a superb quarterback development portfolio, but whether he brings a system workable with the Bears talent base is what his interview would address.Andrew Luck was sacked 41 times last season and hit a multiple of that, according to one NFL source. The sack total was the most of a Colts rookie quarterback. Peyton Manning was sacked 22 times as a rookie and never more than 29 times with Indianapolis.Arians is aggressive and throws downfield even with shaky protection, which has a distant ring of Mike Martz. Luck is extremely mobile and physically strong, and is a timing passer. Whether Jay Cutler adapts to Arians system, or vice versa, is a franchise-level question.I discussed Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison previously and a question in his meeting with Emery will undoubtedly be whether the Bears can run a zone-blocking scheme in the run game. Right now the Bears are significantly bigger than the Texans line that runs this mobile system, and Emery and Dennison will need to be clear on what Dennison wants to run, what Emery has for him to run it, and what the Bears will do this offseason and beyond to facilitate that.

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

There's a sense of irony and, to a certain degree, concern about what changes the Bears' coaching staff has undergone.

Think of the best of Ryan Pace's 2016 rookie class: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard. They were brought along under the position group tutelage of outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, offensive line coach Dave Magazu and running backs coach Stan Drayton. The latter was the first to depart, shortly after the season ended, to return to the collegiate ranks on Texas' new staff.

He's been replaced with former 49ers and Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins (also serving as that position coach in Detroit, Buffalo, Arizona and Kansas City). Howard certainly adapted to the NFL game well, more than anyone expected, as the NFL's second-leading rusher. One would think Drayton played a part in that.

Longtime John Fox assistant Magazu was also let go after the season despite the impressive move of second-round pick Whitehair to center the week of the season opener after Josh Sitton was signed following his release by Green Bay. Whitehair was sold as a "quick study" following his selection out of Kansas State, where he was a four-year starter at three different positions (but not center).

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Like Howard, he wound up making the All-Rookie team, but whether he remains in the middle of the line or not, he'll be getting his orders now from Jeremiah Washburn.

Rounding out the trio of All-Rookie selections was Floyd, who was brought along by Hurtt. He impressed Fox enough to be kept around from Marc Trestman's staff, and moved from defensive line to outside linebackers.

That's where he assisted Willie Young in morphing to a foreign role, yet still managing 14 sacks over the last two seasons. The Bears have yet to name a replacement for Hurtt, who's joined the Seahawks in taking over one of their strengths in recent years, the defensive line.

These three were already good, and the jewels of last year's draft. But if they're to grow and ascend into impact contributors if and when this team becomes a regular playoff contender, it'll come from new faces, new voices in their respective classrooms and position groups.

Bears announce additions to John Fox's coaching staff

Bears announce additions to John Fox's coaching staff

The Bears announced Monday several additions to John Fox's coaching staff in 2017.

Roy Anderson has been hired as the assistant defensive backs coach, Curtis Modkins has been named the new running backs coach and Jeremiah Washburn is the new offensive line coach. The team also announced that outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt's contract was not renewed.

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Anderson was the assistant defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers last season, and spent his previous seven years with the Indianapolis Colts (2012-15) and Baltimore Ravens (2009-11). He replaces Sam Garnes.

Modkins has 22 years of coaching experience, and also spent the 2016 season with the 49ers as the team's offensive coordinator. His previous stops include the Detroit Lions (2013-15), Buffalo Bills (2010-12), Arizona Cardinals (2009) and Kansas City Chiefs (2008). Modkins replaces Stan Drayton.

Washburn served as the Miami Dolphins assistant offensive line coach last season, and spent his previous 14 years with the Lions (2009-15), Ravens (2003-08) and Carolina Panthers (2002). He replaces Dave Magazu.