The day he outlined his program for finding a replacement for Lovie Smth, Bears GM Phil Emery laid out an important theme he would follow: Im going to do everything with a sense of urgency, Emery said.
Depending on results from this weekends divisional playoff games, Emery now can be just about as urgent as he wants.
The Baltimore Ravens shocked the Denver Broncos in overtime on Saturday. After that the San Francisco 49ers played to their No. 2 seed by ending any Green Bay Packers hopes for a second Super Bowl in three years.
What the Ravens and 49ers also did was remove possible obstacles in a couple of sectors in the Bears search for a new head coach. In the process, the hiring window for Smiths successor could now be narrowed to as little as a week.
Emerys plan has been to conduct first interviews with an extensive candidate list, then narrow the field for as few as two or three and have those prospects meet with Chairman George McCaskey and President Ted Phillips.
Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is expected to be among the small cluster of finalists targeted by Emery. With the Broncos now out of the playoffs, the way is clear for a second McCoy interview with the Bears.
Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivans team finished out of the playoff money and is free to move into the Bears second search phase. So is Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, and Indianapolis Bruce Arians, interviewing with Emery on Sunday.
Coaches for teams still in the playoffs cannot be interviewed now until the week after the conference championships. The only known candidates still off limits going into Sundays Atlanta-Seattle and Houston-New England games are Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Two of the three also could be unencumbered by nightfall Sunday.
Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements also is among the 13 known candidates. He is considered a longshot to reach the finals but the 49ers in any case made him on-limits Saturday nights.