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The Best Direction for Bears Coaching Search

Analysis: If this truly is all the Bears have to choose from for head coach, then the choice is an obvious one.

At this point, we have only George McCaskey's word to know what the Bears are looking for in candidates for head coach, and reports of who three finalists are.

He has mentioned what he wants from the team.

"Tough. Gritty. Smart. Opportunistic. Winning Football," McCaskey said.

McCaskey also pointed out how critical it is to have a coach who can have a good relationship with the quarterback and was told this is important by Bill Polian, who steers the hiring committee.

"Our conversations with Bill Polian, he told us it's that relationship between the general manager and the head coach and the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback that will determine the success of your team," McCaskey said.

That quarterback and coach situation is something McCaskey and Polian are looking at closely.

"With any general manager or head coaching candidate we want to know what their plan is for the most important position on the field, how they would utilize Justin, who they would have coaching him, what players would they surround him with," McCaskey said. "How are they gonna maximize his potential to lead the Bears to success?"

Based on everything McCaskey has said, and knowing who is getting second interviews, the best choice for coach is Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

A GM and coach relationship would need to build because there isn't really a direct one from these candidates. The closest one is that GM candidate Eliot Wolf worked in Green Bay when Seahawks GM John Schneider was with the Packers from 2002-2009 and Schneider is also a link to Quinn, who was the defensive coordinator of Schneider's Super Bowl winner with Seattle.

GM candidate Ryan Poles, interviewing a second time on Tuesday, has no connection of this type with the head coaching finalists. GM candidate Monti Ossenfort has none with the head coaches reported as finalists.

There are really no other connections between the three possible head coaches and the GM candidates already mentioned as finalists unless Morrcoco Brown is a sudden, late entry among GM finalists. This was mentioned in a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport as possible, but that's really stretching the GM hunt beyond known boundaries.

So Quinn is the only one of the coaches who has a possible tie to a verified GM finalist—more of a link than a tie.

The other important relationship, between a coach and quarterback, is something an offensive-side coach generally is more inclined to have and this would give a big edge to Jim Caldwell.

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However, it's not necessarily a big edge over Quinn.

Caldwell's relationship with quarterbacks as a head coach were with veteran pocket passers Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford. Both improved efficiency under Caldwell but were not developed as passers by him as this had already been done with both.. He never took a young quarterback and developed one as an offensive coordinator or head coach in the NFL. Can he take an inexperienced, mobile passer in a modern offense and cultivate a relationship to make a winner after being out of the NFL since 2017? And do it at age 67?

Caldwell's other flaw was an ability to inherit teams with good defenses and running games, and run those into the ground while elevating their passing. They went from eighth in scoring defense in Indianapolis to 28th when he left, and from third to 21st in Detroit. He never has had a running game finish higher than 26th as head coach.

Quinn's great attraction as a coach besides his defensive expertise as coordinator for the "Legion of Boom" in Seattle was experience as head coach with a Super Bowl team in Atlanta. His players have loved playing for him, on both sides of the ball.

Although his expertise is defense and his Cowboys defense led the NFL in takeaways last year, as Atlanta head coach he showed great ability to find an offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan who made it easy for the Falcons offense to work. He also hired one, in Steve Sarkisian, who failed.

What Quinn also has from his Seattle time was coaching on a staff where a young, very mobile quarterback came in and led the offense to a Super Bowl as a run/pass threat, on much the same path the Bears see as possible for Fields. 

Perhaps he could even bring in Darrell Bevell, Seahawks offensive coordinator during those Seattle Super Bowl runs, but Bevell is under contract as offensive coordinator in Jacksonville until a new Jaguars head coach would decide if he is bringing in a different person to head up his offense. Bevell actually finished the season as interim head coach with the Jaguars.

Either way, Quinn's success as a head coach who made the Super Bowl is no less than Caldwell's was when he lost to New Orleans as Colts head coach in the Super Bowl. Both won rings as assistants on the opposite sides of the football.

The difference is Quinn has continued coaching in the game and restored his reputation for success with Dallas, while Caldwell did nothing since being fired by the Lions except get hired in Miami in 2019 and then quit within months for health reasons.

The other candidate, Eberflus, is the great unknown. With Dallas ties as their longtime linebackers coach before being Colts defensive coordinator, he has headed up a defense only four years. The possible link as a defensive coordinator for a world champion team is not there like with Quinn, nor is there anything to suggest how he might handle a young quarterback.

Quinn gives the Bears the best opportunity to win from among this undistinguished group of finalists, a collection which makes you wonder how in the world Doug Pederson can't be a late addition to the last group, especially if Kansas City's Poles gets hired as GM.

And if Brown becomes a finalist for GM as Rapoport suggested could happen, then the Eberflus-Brown-Colts connection is a possibility if not a probability because Polian seems to be pulling out of his Colts deck to stack the candidates list.

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