Bears tightening candidate list for head coach

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Bears tightening candidate list for head coach

The end of the divisional playoff round was expected to trigger phase two of the Bears search for a successor to Lovie Smith and it did just that, with three finalists due for second interviews with Bears, according to various reports.

The narrowing of the field raised the possibility that the Bears could have the 14th head coach in their history by next weekend.

Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who met with GM Phil Emery in Atlanta on Saturday prior to the Seahawks-Falcons divisional game, is on the short list, as first reported by ESPNs Chris Mortensen.

That Bevell was able to make such a strong impression with Emery despite a divisional playoff game the next day speaks to a strong ability to compartmentalize.

Marc Trestman spent eight hours meeting with Emery in their first interview, an indication of a connection that was borne out by Trestman being called back for meetings that will include Bears Chairman George McCaskey and President Ted Phillips, according to ESPN.

Trestman has been a successful head coach with the Montreal Alouettes, which won two Grey Cup championships under his stewardship.

Bruce Arians work with Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, plus a 9-3 stint as an interim coach with the Indianapolis Colts this season, helped convince the Bears that Arians might be the one to take Jay Cutler to an elite level. Arians also made the finalists cut.

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:

Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.

Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams. 

Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly) and Brian Hedger (NHL.com) join Kap on the panel.

ESPN is reporting that the Bears have begun shopping Jay Cutler. Will there be any takers? 

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. Would that be a mistake?

Miguel Montero makes his peace with Joe Maddon but was this even a big deal? Sammy Sosa says he put Chicago on the map, and compares himself to Jesus. When he will the Cubs welcome him home?

Plus, Pat Boyle drops by to talk Blackhawks and the “Roly Poly Goalie” is looking for work all because he ate a pie.

Check out the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: