Is Sullivan right for the job?

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Is Sullivan right for the job?

No less than 20 potential names have been thrown into the proverbial hat to become the Bears' next head coach. Some candidates already eliminated themselves, like former Eagles head coach Andy Reid who agreed to a 5-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday or Falcons' offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter who publicly stated he will remain in Atlanta with a pay increase attached to it.

Others in the running will be eliminated for various reasons moving forward, but Bears GM Phil Emery likely has about five candidates he is seriously considering.

It is not uncommon for general managers to acquire a Rolodex of quality coaches who may be future head coaching material during their scouting travels. Their file continues to grow as they gain experience as their careers progress. Its similar to the numerous notes created on players, as coaching files appear to be pretty deep and very thorough as well.

The latest candidate is Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan who recently underwent a six hour interview conducted by Emery and the Bears' brass. Sullivan has been coaching since 1993 when he started at Humboldt State while earning his Masters degree. He formerly played as a defensive back at Army where he completed his Bachelor of Science degree and became a graduate of U.S. Army Airborne, Ranger and Air Assault schools.

If you want tough head coaches, Sullivan may be your guy, as he can beat offensive principles into players with his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Plus, Sullivan has spent time with accomplished head coaches during his career. In 1997, he worked at Youngstown State under former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, where his team won the Division I AA National Championship. Sullivan broke into the NFL as a defensive quality-control coach in Jacksonville in 2002, later becoming the offensive assistant in 2003.

He spent time there with Tom Coughlin, who brought him to New York to coach wide receivers after Coughlin agreed to be signing as the Giants' head coach in 2004. Sullivan later became Eli Manning's quarterback coach during the 2010 season.

Sullivan not only served under a very accomplished head coach in Coughlin, but also alongside a seasoned coaching staff like offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride while winning two Super Bowl Championships with the Giants before moving on to Tampa Bay in 2012. Under Sullivan, Tampa Bay finished with a top nine overall offense in the NFL, ranking 10th in pass and 15th in rushing offense.

Much of what Sullivan has to accomplish with the Bears surrounds quarterback Jay Cutler. Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano said the same concerning Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman.

What I can say is a 4,000-yard passer, a touchdown record there are a lot of things you say, Wow. Are there things that frustrate you? Yeah.

Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowls in this league? I do. So, I hope that happens here. But again, at the end of the day, I have to evaluate everything before I can say thats what were doing.," Schiano said. "The one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback so I want to have as many good players on our football team as we can at every single position. Its a little different in the NFL.

The truth of the matter is, Freeman was all over the map in 2012 with a great offensive line and great weapons around him with a first time play caller in Sullivan. Plus, that is not exactly a ringing endorsement about quarterback Freeman from Schiano, which is supposed to be what Sullivan was hired to rectify.

Sullivan is a first-time play caller with no head coaching experience or track record at all, which leads you to believe he is qualified enough to be the Bears' next head coach?

Next.

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

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Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

On this week’s Bears Talk Podcast, we hear from Markus Wheaton as Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz discuss the training camp competition at slot receiver.

Boden and Stankevitz also weigh in on PFF ranking the Bears’ starting lineup 18th in the NFL, answer listener questions and add another layer of Aaron Rodgers envy.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast right here:

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

The Bears believe Leonard Floyd will make the leap from being a promising rookie to a breakout second-year player, the kind who can be a centerpiece of a defense as soon as this fall.  

The Bears in 2016 totaled 37 sacks —12th in the NFL — despite dealing with a rash of injuries and not having a standout player in terms of getting to the quarterback. Willie Young led the team with 7 1/2 sacks, which tied him for 31st in the league last year, while Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had seven. 

Sixteen players recorded double-digit sacks last year. That’s not the end-all benchmark for Floyd in 2017, but for a former top-10 pick with elite skills and, as his coaches and teammate said, the right mentality, it’s not out of the question. 

“With most players, you go from your freshman year to sophomore or rookie to second year, … it slows down, they understand it, they're not thinking, they're reacting,” coach John Fox said. “And so I'd expect that and I've seen that already even in the off-season.”

Floyd, earlier this month, talked about how much more comfortable he feels after a full year of practicing and playing at the NFL level. 

“Everything was just fast when I got here last year,” Floyd said. “This year’s it’s way slower and I feel like I’m doing pretty good this year.”

There are two issues with Floyd that won’t go away until he proves they’re not problems in the regular season, though: His weight and his concussions. 

The weight issue is one Floyd has heard for a while, joking with reporters during veteran minicamp that he was surprised it wasn’t the first thing he was asked during his session with the media. He said he “definitely gained some weight” without revealing how much he’s put on, only saying he feels like he’s in much better shape now than he was as a rookie.

“It’s like night and day compared to last year,” Floyd said. 

The concessions are a far more serious — and scary — issue given it took Floyd two months to fully recover from the second concussion he suffered in 2016. 

The Bears believe Floyd’s concussion issues are correctable, though, given they were the product of poor tackling form made worse by collisions with Hicks. The crown of Floyd’s helmet was too low, so he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with tackling dummies and sled machines in an effort to fix that issue. 

The hope is that Floyd can stay healthy and marry his skills with a better knowledge of the game to put together a breakout year in 2017. His teammates sounded confident during the offseason program that everything was falling into place for the former ninth overall pick. 

“He’s a great competitor,” Hicks said. “Great energy, fast, athletic, he’s everything you want in an outside linebacker, right? Nonstop motor — I can give you all the cliche terms, but I just feel like as far as the defensive line or an outside linebacker, another year under his belt is only going to make him better.”

Added linebacker Jerrell Freeman: “That guy is going to be good for a while.”