Matt Eberflus might be the last best hope for the Bears.
At least according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer in Monday Morning Quarterback, Eberflus and both Leslie Frazier and Jim Caldwell have emerged as the "top names" in the interview process.
If this truly is the result of the process, it is far more narrow in scope than previously imagined. It would actually come down to the cronies of hiring advisor Bill Polian, the 79-year-old former executive who has been out of the NFL a decade and whose Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls before he finally won one in Indianapolis when the victim was Virginia McCaskey's Chicago Bears.
We are left to see this exhaustive search turned up 67-year-old Caldwell, who hasn't been a coach since 2017 and was fired by a perennial dumpster franchise, the Detroit Lions. It also turned up Frazier, a 62-year-old Bills defensive coordinator whose defense just collapsed and gave up 42 points in a playoff game, like the entire Vikings defense collapsed after he became that team's head coach. Both were assistants on Polian's Super Bowl winner that beat Rex Grossman 15 years ago.
Eberflus, a rising name in the sport but a defensive-side hire. He is also coaching in Indianapolis, Polian's former franchise. In addition, Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reported Eberflus is the point of emphasis for the Jaguars coaching search now.
George McCaskey, the telephone is right there and you have Jim Harbaugh's phone number. Double his asking money and hire him.
The main point of emphasis for the Bears needs to be hiring someone who can do with Justin Fields what Brian Daboll is doing with Josh Allen and create the magic that allowed the Bills to turn the playoff game with the Chiefs Sunday into a classic.
George McCaskey called the quarterback/coach relationship one of the two defining relationships. Here is how the possible link between Fields and all of the 11 known candidates looks.
1. Brian Daboll
This might be a moot point as Daboll is being given a second interview with the Giants and the new Giants GM is former Buffalo executive Joe Schoen. Buffalo's offensive coordinator has linked up with Allen and raised his passer rating from 67.9 as a rookie to 85.3 his second year to 107.2 last season. Although it dipped to 92.2 this year, Allen has become far more efficient in three years, going from 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a rookie to 93 touchdowns and 34 interceptions over the last three seasons. The problem with Daboll and Allen is minor. In only one season has the relationship resulted in more than 6.8 yards per pass attempt, and this stat is a critical figure for any passer. It's also resulted in an inordinate amount of quarterback runs. Fields already has this problem. Allen relies too much on his legs when the Bills have an excellent group of receivers, and eventually all running QBs get what they have coming. This isn't the first quarterback transformed by Daboll. Tua Tagovailoa took Alabama to the national title in the one season Daboll served as Alabama offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. You'd have to rate this the best possible coupling for the QB/coach relationship George McCaskey wants because it has already happened. How would the rest of the team be under Daboll? No one can really know. If they retained Sean Desai under Daboll, or hired Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, they could at least be on some familiar footing for that side of the ball. It appears, now, like they won't get the chance and Daboll will develop Daniel Jones or his successor.
2. Doug Pederson
While he didn't exactly develop Carson Wentz, he put people in place who did. Wentz went from a terribly inept rookie to a QB who put the Eagles in position for the playoff run Nick Foles took them on in their 2017 Super Bowl season. They did it in only Wentz's second season. As a former quarterback, Pederson knows what he wants in a young quarterback and will either impart this on the player or have assistants who can do it. He has a Lombardi Trophy to prove it and there is no greater proof he can do it. It's just that Pederson hasn't had to do this now for several years.
3. Jim Caldwell
There's no way to know what kind of relationship he'd have because he never developed a QB in his seven seasons as a head coach or in 2001 when he inherited Brad Johnson with Tampa Bay for a season as QB coach. By 2002 with the Colts, Peyton Manning had already been in the league four seasons and was a developed quarterback, although there is no question he became more efficient by 2003 under Caldwell when the rest of the entire Colts team had improved. Caldwell took over in Detroit when Matthew Stafford had already developed in six NFL seasons. No question Caldwell helped refine him, making him more consistent. In 2012 and 2013 Caldwell was offensive coordinator for Baltimore when they won the Super Bowl but Joe Flacco was already in Year 5 by 2012 and didn't enjoy remarkable regular-season improvement under Caldwell. Although they won the Super Bowl over Harbaugh's 49ers, no one would ever identify Baltimore success that season with Flacco—it was all defense, of course. If Fields had four or five years experience and had developed already, then there could be more hope Caldwell could develop him. At least he has been able to be part of improving quarterbacks as both a head coach and assistant.
4. Nathaniel Hackett
He's had great success developing offenses with good running attacks, and at preventing turnovers—although it's kind of easy to avoid turnovers when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback. But he did help elevate Blake Bortles to a level where he could not foul up a great Jacksonville defense and running game. Beyond that, Hackett never really has developed a young quarterback to higher level. He had E.J. Manuel and Kyle Orton in Buffalo and neither obviously did much for the Bills in 2013 and 2014. Hackett does have a reputation as a good teacher, but not a QB mentor or developer.
5. Byron Leftwich
He oversaw the Josh Rosen debacle as a rookie in Arizona on a staff that was fired, then went to Tampa Bay and was the offensive coordinator when Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions. He's only been a coordinator four seasons and the only success he had came the last two when his coach was a middle-aged man. So in all, Leftwich has at least had experience with this task, knows offense, but hasn't succeeded at developing a young QB.
6. Dan Quinn
His success in getting Atlanta to the Super Bowl had nothing to do with developing a quarterback. Matt Ryan's rookie year was long before that, in 2008. Quinn was defensive coordinator for a team with a young quarterback in Seattle and did see close up as Russell Wilson's rose to prominence, but he had nothing to do with it. But at least he can tell a young quarterback he coached in a Super Bowl with Atlanta and was a coordinator in a few with Seattle.
7. Matt Eberflus
He rates down this low as a complete unknown. He's only been a defensive coordinator for four seasons, so how he would do as a head coach relating and developing a young quarterback—or finding people who could do it—as a total roll of the dice. The closest he's been to a young QB developing was linebackers coach on a Dallas team with Dak Prescott as a rookie.
8. Leslie Frazier
As a long-time defensive coordinator, it's difficult to say how he could relate with a young, developing quarterback. Much like with Quinn, he was around successful quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and now Josh Allen, but was on the other side of the ball. However, he did have this experience of being a defensive-minded head coach with a young quarterback as a rookie in Minnesota. How did it turn out? The QB was Christian Ponder.
9. Dennis Allen
As Raiders head coach in three seasons, Allen had a wide variety of quarterbacks and the passer they gave his team to develop was Terrell Pryor, who failed as a quarterback everywhere he went and eventually became a bad wide receiver before retiring. Allen was there in 2014 for four games but obviously didn't get the chance to be part of rookie Derek Carr's development. However, Allen has been around Sean Payton, who does know plenty about quarterbacks.
10. Todd Bowles
It's often forgotten Bowles got to be a head coach for three weeks as an interim in 2011 and he had younger QBs Chad Henne and Matt Moore, but both had been in the league four years at least and, after all, Bowles coached that team for only three games. When Bowles took charge of the Jets he had Geno Smith playing in his third season so Ryan Fitzpatrick became the best QB option. The only real developmental project Bowles took part in was Sam Darnold as a rookie and that went nowhere with Adam Gase as offensive coordinator. The only truly successful QB Bowles has been around as a coach was being defensive coordinator on a team with Tom Brady.
11. Brian Flores
He's done a wonderful job relating to Tua Tagovailoa, hasn't he?