Rebooting Search for Bears Offensive Coordinator
The landscape changes greatly with hirings, firings and promotions during the NFL offseason as teams look to fill vacant spots.
The Denver Broncos' hiring of Pat Shurmur removed an obvious possible Bears candidate, although one no one with the Bears ever verified he had been targeted.
Shurmur's past ties to Andy Reid and Bears coach Matt Nagy had been major points in his favor but as a past NFL head coach and offensive coordinator it was expected he'd want a position where he could call plays. Nagy calls plays for the Bears.
The victory by the Kansas City Chiefs kept Nagy from possibly raiding Reid's staff yet. Here are several possible candidates for the Chicago job.
All along Kafka has remained the most logical choice since he was in Kansas City as an offensive assistant when Nagy was offensive coordinator under Reid in 2017 and played quarterback in Philadelphia when Nagy was an offensive assistant under Reid. Kafka's ties to Chicago as former Northwestern and St. Rita quarterback also figures in, as does the fact he hasn't been a play caller. He is quarterbacks coach in Kansas City below offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on the coaching ladder. So coming to Chicago would be a career advancement, and although Nagy calls plays he does tend to follow Reid's practices. And one of Reid's habits is letting underlings call plays as a changeup. Although no one can question Patrick Mahomes' talent, Kafka has been his quarterbacks coach since Nagy left Kansas City, and all through his time as the Chiefs starter. There is a major negative to Kafka, and it revolves around his inexperience and the current Bears staff. Dave Ragone is Bears quarterbacks coach but has been coaching quarterbacks, receivers or offensive quality control in the NFL since 2011 with Tennessee and the Bears would be promoting a less-experienced coach from elsewhere over a coach within the organization. That one is a tough call.
Freshly fired as Jaguars offensive coordinator after one year, after going less than a season as Vikings offensive coordinator in 2018, it's been a big fall for DeFilippo. He was a hot head coaching candidate when the Bears hired Nagy. He also was Browns OC for a year. The quarterbacks coach for the Eagles when they won the Super Bowl, DeFilippo probably should take a step back after all these hirings and firings, and taking a role where he doesn't call plays might be a good fit. But would it be a good fit in Chicago? His biggest weakness in Minnesota was not running it enough and that's been one of Nagy's faults. Guess they'd probably want to get rid of the running backs room at Halas Hall.
Ragone has taken on the tough job of coaching Mitchell Trubisky and his success is a topic for debate. Yet, he's survived through the John Fox regime and under Nagy, and if he wasn't well thought of then the Bears easily could have dispatched him when they fired OC Mark Helfrich. Four years in one city is a long time for any assistant coach in this era. Ragone knows how Nagy thinks, and could easily shift to oversee the offense during game plan prep but then turn it over to Nagy for play calling on game day. The drawback is his lack of experience being a coordinator. And if he was an obvious top choice for offensive coordinator, the Bears already would have named him to this spot.
Much like with Ragone, the Bears could have hired Childress as coordinator at any point if they wanted to make him the offensive coordinator. A senior offensive assistant on the Bears staff, there's been no sign Childress even wants to be an NFL offensive coordinator. His role with the team is providing support in many areas and he wanted to step away from the obvious intensity of coaching when he was in Kansas City because told Reid then he wanted to retire, then wound up being a head coach briefly in the AAF before taking a full-time senior assistant job with the Bears. Experience is definitely on Childress' side. He's been head coach of the Vikings, was an offensive coordinator under Reid from 2002-05 with the Eagles and 2016 with the Eagles, and also an ineffective OC for the Browns in 2012. The experience under Reid would fit well with the Bears both because of knowing the offense but also fitting into a non-play calling role.
Would the Bears hire a coordinator fired by Nagy's good friend, Doug Pederson? Why not? Groh coached receivers when the Eagles won the Super Bowl, and then was offensive coordinator in a non-play calling situation when they beat the Bears in the double-doink game. Groh was with the Bears under Marc Trestman and for a year under John Fox as receivers coach. It's possible that may not be an argument in his favor.
Still out there after his departure from the Ravens after last season, Mornhinweg was under Reid when Nagy was in Philadelphia as a player and coach. On the negative side, Mornhinweg has been a long-time play caller and former Lions head coach, and taking on duties without calling plays might be a problem. He's been available, and if the Bears wanted him they could have signed him long ago.
He's had opportunities to be an offensive coordinator in the past but decided to stick with being an assistant and a quarterbacks guru. He coached Lamar Jackson to this year's success and was Andy Dalton's QB coach before that. He was with the Eagles staff (who wasn't?) under Reid when Nagy was a quarterback and an assistant. It would be good to put him with Trubisky and see where that goes, but the opening is for an offensive coordinator and not just the quarterbacks coach.