The Chicago Bears weren’t kidding when they said the evaluation process for their GM and head coaching positions would be thorough and exhaustive. On the coaching front alone they’re confirmed to have requested interviews with nine different candidates. Given how the process went back in 2018, this is a considerably wider net being cast by George McCaskey and his team. What nobody can say for sure is if he is truly keeping an open mind in this or if he already has particular favorites circled on his list.
ESPN insider Dan Graziano has kept apprised of the situation in Chicago. He was the first one to reveal that Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was on their shortlist of options in the event Matt Nagy was fired. In his latest column together with Jeremy Fowler, he reiterated that point again. However, this time he provided two additional names he is sensing might have early momentum to get the job as well.
“Coachwise, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is the name I’ve heard most strongly connected with this job in the early going, although I think Todd Bowles and Brian Flores will get serious looks as well. And early favorites don’t always end up getting the jobs. If the Bears do pick Frazier or Bowles or Flores or another defensive-background coach (which is totally fine, of course, if you believe in the guy as a leader), the big question that will follow is whom they’re bringing with them for offensive coordinator to shepherd the development of Justin Fields.”
Hearing those names, it is clear that a pattern is emerging.
Frazier, Bowles, and Flores are of course all black coaches. McCaskey is known for being a major proponent of more diversity in the NFL coaching ranks. Beyond that is their backgrounds. All three have been head coaches previously. Frazier in Minnesota, Bowles in New York, and Flores in Miami. Last but not least, all are also proven defensive specialists. Frazier has coordinated the #1 defense in the league this year. Bowles’ unit in Tampa Bay ranks 5th in points allowed and Flores’ Dolphins unit was 9th in takeaways.
It is hard not to feel like McCaskey has a certain type he’s aiming for. A type that is quite similar to Lovie Smith, the last truly successful Bears head coach. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Smith got this team to a Super Bowl. They had five winning seasons under his watch. Firing him was considered a mistake by many back in 2013. Time has only proven those fears correct.
Chicago Bears job can’t be considered a lock just yet
This is not to say McCaskey doesn’t have certain fantasies about a nostalgia option like Frazier or bringing in guys with Super Bowl rings like Bowles or Flores. The thing to remember here is things change fast when candidates are able to get in front of teams. All it takes is somebody to nail their interview for everything to change. This is what happened back in 2018 with Nagy. He wasn’t considered a favorite for the job at the time. When the Bears brass met him though, he made a terrific sales pitch. Just 24 hours later he had the job.
The same thing can happen here. One of the other six candidates can get in front of McCaskey, say all the right things, and secure the position. Still, it is at least interesting that Graziano mentioned those names. They all seem to fit a certain type the Chicago Bears are looking for. Experienced, tough, and leaders of men. The big key will be obvious. Showing that they have a viable plan for developing Justin Fields into a successful quarterback.
That is where it gets challenging.
Flores had four different offensive coordinators in three seasons with the Dolphins. Bowles had three in four seasons with the Jets. As for Frazier, his passing attacks in Minnesota never ranked higher than 23rd. Part of that was problems at quarterback, so it is difficult to know how capable he was of cultivating one. There will be lots to sort through in the interviews to come.