The list of Bears coaching candidates has been short a few people, at least compared to their extensive general manager list.
Perhaps it's because they quickly became enamored with a particular candidate, presumably Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus because he is the only one so far invited back for a second interview.
Or perhaps it's because they intend for it to increase after the GM is hired because board chairman George McCaskey said they prefer to hire the GM first, but are not wed to this concept.
Whatever the reason, Bill Polian, McCaskey and the committe had only 10 verified candidates as of Thursday afternoon. Now it is possible they have interviewed some without it getting out. After all, Tom Telesco, the Chargers GM during a press conference surprised everyone when he reported the Bears had already interviewed GM candidate JoJo Wooden from his very own front office.
Wooden was on the reported list to be interviewed but hadn't been reported among those scheduled.
Assuming there have been no more coaching candidates than those reported, it's disturbing to see how little attention has been paid to the Kyle Shananan offense or coaching tree.
Shanahan created an offense dependent greatly upon sound running and play-action passing. It's not the overly complex system Matt Nagy tried to deploy but is very effective wedding the ground game to the passing game and vice versa.
It is actually the NFL's cutting-edge offense at this time, much like Andy Reid's RPO attack was in 2017.
The Bears list seems too heavily focused on the past and not enough on the cutting edge.
You've got Doug Pederson, Jim Caldwell and Dan Quinn. No one can question their credentials when they've all coached in the Super Bowl, Pederson emerging as the only Lombardi Trophy winner on the list.
They have a couple of double-digit winners as head coaches who didn't get their teams into the playoffs before being fired with Brian Flores and Todd Bowles.
Then there are promising coordinators who they might consider so-called cutting edge candidates, like Byron Leftwich, Eberflus and Brian Daboll.
The only one among these who comes from the Shanahan tree is Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and he's more of a transplanted branch on the tree. Hackett had been in the NFL off and on since joining Jon Gruden's Tampa Bay staff as an assistant in 2006. He wound up getting his exposure to this type of offense only when he joined the Packers under Shanahan disciple Matt LaFleur in 2019.
The Shanahan style of offense would seem ideal for the Bears with a quarterback who can get out on the edge with bootlegs so he can capitalize with his legs if nothing is open. This offense really had its coming-out party with RG III in Washington, so there is an obvious fit.
The 49ers running game has been nothing short of dominant over the years and the Packers under LaFleur have their own version of this, which has regularly given the Bears defense fits.
Hackett might not have the long background within the offense but can sure coach it. In fact, his greatest strength seems to be teaching based on what Packers players have said. And he has coached great running teams even before he knew this offense, like the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017.
The Bears should have done a better job trying to bring in these younger, cutting-edge thinkers but then again two of the selectors are a bit on the older side themselves.
There was a real moment of humor or wit in the Bears postseason press conference relevant to this situation.
"Yes, we are not exactly spring chickens but Bill has been around the game a long time, he knows the game very well," McCaskey said, referring to Polian. "I recall, George Halas was in his 80's when he made a then very controversial but ultimately successful selection for a head coach and Bill is much younger than that."
This is true. But when Halas recognized Mike Ditka should be their head coach he was bringing in a candidate many perceived as beyond cutting edge—more like over the edge. He sure worked out well, though.
This Bears list is heavy with retreads like Leslie Frazier, Caldwell and even Quinn.
Here are candidates they should add to their list instead of worrying about talking to people just because they played in Chicago, coached in Buffalo, knew Polian or have a lot of gray hair.
49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel
This was the real brains behind the running attack Shanahan uses in San Francisco, and he's the one responsible for unleashing Deebo Samuel within the attack in many different ways. Before this season, McDaniel was a running game coordinator and then when Mike LaFleur went to the Jets he assumed the role of offensive coordinator.
Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur
He's been in the NFL long enough now and has been exposed to the same Shanahan offense his brother was. No one will call the Jets offense a success this year but they're just getting started with it and personnel was a problem. LaFleur deserved a look. LaFleur knows not only the Shanahan style of running but was the passing game coordinator for the 49ers.
Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell
The Vikings and Broncos are considering him. Another young guy but he has been McVay's offensive coordinator two seasons now and McVay was on that Washington staff with Shanahan.
Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen
Not affiliaed with the Shanahan tree but he did a remarkable job of bending and fitting the Eagles offense to running quarterback Jalen Hurts and in doing it made them a playoff team.
Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing
He's in his second season as an offensive coordinator, the first largely irrelevant with a Raiders team in disarray in 2017. With the Titans, he has managed to mold a running game and play-action passing even without injured Derrick Henry. They're fifth in rushing and lead in rushing attempts.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
Sure we just went through an Andy Reid understudy who didn't work out, but Nagy never coached there when they won or even played in a Super Bowl. Bieniemy has and maybe he can do the one thing Nagy couldn't and upgrade the Bears offense using both the run and pass.