One of the most surprising moves of Black Monday came out of the Windy City, as the Chicago Bears announced the firing of head coach Lovie Smith after nine seasons, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
Smith led the Bears to a 10-6 record this season, but a 3-5 finish following a 7-1 start kept them from making the playoffs for the second straight year and the fifth time in the last six years.
The firing was a shock just because the Bears did have a strong season and there really seemed to be no indication from anyone in the organization leading up to the final week of the season that Smith was in any danger.
But the franchise is looking towards the future now, so it is time to start breaking down all the potential candidates—both those reported to be on their list and those rumored to either have interest or who the team has interest in—to replace Smith.
Considering that the Bears did win 10 games in a very good division, are one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports and have pieces in place to be good for a long time, filling the vacancy should not be difficult.
Here are the latest rumblings and grumblings surrounding the Bears and their search for a new head coach.
The Chicago Bears have found their new head coach, naming former Canadian Football League head man Marc Trestman as their latest hire for the position, according to the team's official Twitter account:
LM: It's official: Marc Trestman has been named the 14th head coach in Chicago #Bears history.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 16, 2013
Trestman, 57, was previously the head coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes from 2008 to 2012. He won CFL Coach of the Year honors in 2009, leading the team to back-to-back Grey Cup wins in 2009 and 2010. Prior to that, the Minneapolis native had held various coaching positions for several NFL teams from 1985 to 2004.
Contrary to former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Trestman specializes on the offense end, where Chicago has struggled in recent seasons.
Singletary is currently an assistant for the Minnesota Vikings. He played linebacker for the Bears from 1981 to 1992 and boasts two and a half seasons of NFL head coaching experience, making his debut with the San Francisco 49ers a few years back.
Singletary compiled a record of 18-22 from 2008 to 2010 in San Francisco, but is a Hall of Fame player and one with deep ties to Chicago.
The Bears will reportedly interview Minnesota Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer for their head coaching position as well according to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs via Twitter:
Priefer has several years of experience as a special teams coach in the NFL, and has been with Minnesota for the last two seasons. Before then, he coached the Denver Broncos special teams for a few years.
UPDATE: Sunday, January 6 at 11:25 a.m. ET by Patrick Clarke
The Chicago Bears are reportedly looking at current Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison as a potential head coach in 2013 and beyond. According to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, the Bears have received permission to interview him:
Bears asked for and received permission to interview Texans OC Rick Dennison for HC job. Dennison worked with Cutler and Marshall in Denver.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 6, 2013
The Houston Chronicle's John McClain reports that it would be the fourth offensive coordinator to leave Houston during the Gary Kubiak era:
Texans could lose 4th OC under Gary Kubiak. Rick Dennison was given permission to interview with Bears. ESPN first reported the story.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 6, 2013
Chicago ranked 16th and 28th in the league in scoring offense and total yards respectively in 2012, while Houston's Rick Dennison-led offense ranked seventh and eighth in each respective category.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 3 at 1:50 p.m. ET by David Daniels
Bruce Arians did such a phenomenal job playing the role of head coach on the Indianapolis Colts while Chuck Pagano battled cancer that naturally, he's one of the hottest candidates available.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 3, 2013
According to ESPN, GM Phil Emery claimed Lovie Smith was fired because of a lack of postseason success and poor offense. Well, Arians has two Super Bowl rings and is an offensive guy.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Thursday, January 3 at 11:34 a.m. ET
Mike McCoy reportedly will interview with the Bears on Sunday, January 6, according to Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure.
Bears GM Phil Emery's interview with Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is officially set for Sunday.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) January 3, 2013
---End of Update---
The Bears have already asked for permission to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. He's a very, very hot name right now— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 31, 2012
Glazer mentions that McCoy is a "very, very hot name" after the Broncos finished with the AFC's best record during the regular season and the offense finished second in the league in points per game (30.1).
McCoy's offensive background would make him the polar opposite of Smith, who specialized in defense coming over from St. Louis, where he was the defensive coordinator.
The Bears have to figure out what to do with Jay Cutler, and since they don't seem likely to get rid of him, the next best option is find a coach with a strong background in coaching quarterbacks. McCoy spent time as the quarterbacks coach in Carolina before moving to Denver in 2010.
Under McCoy's direction in 2010, Kyle Orton, former Bears quarterback, threw for 3,653 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He found a system that worked for Tim Tebow the following year, getting the Broncos into the postseason and defeating Pittsburgh in the Wild Card Game.
While certainly not a household name, Armstrong does have history with the Bears franchise. He has been a coach in the NFL since 1994, including being the Bears' special teams coach from 1997-2000 before taking the same position with Miami and then Atlanta.
The Bears need to examine all possible options for the job right now. Armstrong has been a great special teams coach for a long time. During his tenure with the Falcons, they have had one of the most consistent special teams units in the NFL.
His resume isn't as flashy as someone like McCoy's, or any other high-profile coordinator potentially linked to the job, but he has had success wherever he has been and he understands the pride and history of the Bears franchise better than most candidates.