A second official name has emerged for the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator job. It began with the team requesting permission to interview Indianapolis Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon for the job. Now another name gets added to the list. That being Dallas Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards. The team requested permission to interview him according to Todd Archer of ESPN.
This is an interesting development for a couple of reasons. It’s the second name to emerge who has a background primarily in a 4-3 defensive alignment. This at least suggests the Bears are considering a switch. It’s also the second name directly connected to Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Gannon was the assistant defensive back coach there from 2014 to 2017. Edwards was the defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2019.
The Chicago Bears have requested permission to speak with Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards regarding their defensive coordinator opening, according to a source. Because it is for a coordinator's job, the Cowboys cannot block the… https://t.co/e9JHzYiBBj
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) January 19, 2021
The Edwards request is definitely an odd choice.
While he had lots of success in Minnesota with the defense ranking top 10 in points allowed every year he was there, he wasn’t the one directing things. Zimmer himself called the plays. Edwards was a coordinator in two other stops. First in Washington in 2003 and then again in Buffalo from 2010 to 2011. None of those units finished higher than 24th overall in the NFL. So it’s fair to wonder if he’s capable of running a defense on his own.
One other troublesome part of all this? It’s already apparent the Bears aren’t jumping in on any top coordinator candidates thus far. This raises a concern many had going into this offseason. That by retaining head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace for 2021, it limits the options the team would have. Candidates know both men are on the hot seat next season. They won’t want to go to a team that could see the coaching staff fired a year after they arrive.
Chicago Bears defensive coordinator hire won’t be sexy
As things stand, there are now five known names connected to the position one week after the end of the Bears’ season. Two in-house names in defensive line coach Jay Rodgers and safeties coach Sean Desai. Former defensive coordinator James Bettcher was the first outside name mentioned by insiders. Now Gannon and Edwards have joined the fray. It is difficult to determine which if any of them will get the gig.
One thing though is don’t expect the next Bears defensive coordinator to be a blockbuster name like Vic Fangio was in 2015. Nagy will have to settle for somebody either unproven or experienced but lacking in as much credibility as others. For what it’s worth, Edwards isn’t just somebody the head coach seems to like. Ryan Pace interviewed him for the head coaching job back in 2018. So it goes to the top.
As for the potential scheme switch? It isn’t a hard sell.
Looking at the state of the Bears front seven, they have the personnel for it. Both Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn can easily shift to defensive end. Bilal Nichols and Akiem Hicks are more than capable of playing the three-technique interior pass rusher while Eddie Goldman will return to play nose tackle next season. The tricky part will be the linebackers.
They’ll have to figure out who plays in the middle. That would likely be Roquan Smith. Then they have to determine if Danny Trevathan can play outside linebacker, something he’s never done before while also finding a strong-side linebacker. It would be an adjustment period. Something that would be a considerable gamble in a must-win season.