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Bears Rumors: Nathaniel Hackett, Todd Bowles, Byron Leftwich HC Interview Targets

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 11, 2022

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have reportedly requested interviews with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett about their head coaching vacancy as the franchise expands its field of candidates.

Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported the Bears' requests Tuesday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Chicago also requested an interview with Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, while Pelissero added Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn have also been requested for interviews.

Chicago is casting a wide net in its search for a new head coach to replace Matt Nagy, who was fired Monday after posting a 34-31 record with two playoff appearances in four years.

The Bears are also working to find a new general manager after Ryan Pace, who'd held the role since 2015, was also let go Monday.

Team chairman George McCaskey said Monday he's "confident" the search group they've assembled, which includes team president Ted Phillips, vice president of player engagement LaMar "Soup" Campbell, senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion Tanesha Wade and Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, can identify the two best candidates:

"We get that a lot of Bears fans are unhappy, and we're unhappy, too, and we're frustrated. And we understand that there's not really a whole lot that can be said today that's going to make people feel better about the situation. It may even be that once the candidates are introduced, people will say, 'Oh, you picked the wrong guy,' or 'you didn't get it right' or whatever. The only opportunity to produce results is on the field, and that won't be for some time to come. [But] we think in time it will be shown that we have chosen the right people to lead the Bears."

McCaskey added their search won't be limited by "philosophy, scheme or financial considerations," which is already starting to show as their interview requests have spanned the spectrum rather than focusing on somebody with a specialty on one side of the ball.

"We'll be looking for leaders," he said. "... They don't have to like him, they don't have to love him, but they respect him. So, the primary quality we'll be looking for in both the general manager and the head coach is leadership."

Bowles has served as the Bucs defensive coordinator since 2019. The team ranked fifth in points allowed per game (20.8) this season. He previously served as head coach of the New York Jets from 2015 through 2018, compiling a 24-40 record with a lackluster roster.

Hackett is looking to become a head coach for the first time after two decades as an assistant at the college and pro levels. He's guided the Packers offense since 2019.

Leftwich, a former NFL quarterback, has quickly worked through the coaching ranks. He started as a quarterbacks coach with the Arizona Cardinals in 2017 and took over the Bucs offense in 2019.

McCaskey didn't provide a timetable for completion of the dual searches, which he said will be "thorough, diligent and exhaustive."

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