The Chicago Bears have wasted no time starting their search for a new head coach after firing Lovie Smith, a decision general manager Phil Emery described as difficult.
But Smith, who had an 81-63 record in the regular season over nine years, missed the playoffs in five of the last six years and his teams were consistently second-rate on offense, propelled by a strong defense and excellent special teams.
Emery is expected to cast a wide net and to this point has meeting scheduled with offensive coordinators Mike McCoy (Broncos) and Mike Sullivan (Buccaneers) as well as special teams coaches Keith Armstrong (Falcons) and Joe DeCamillis (Cowboys). Armstrong, who worked for the Bears previously when Emery was a college area scout, will fulfill the Rooney Rule requirement that the club interview at least one minority candidate. He is African-American. The Bears have also requested permission from the Packers to interview their offensive coordinator Tom Clements after Green Bay's wild-card round playoff game.
Emery wouldn’t say he is seeking an offensive-minded coach, and he is also expected to include coaches with defensive backgrounds as well as college coaches. But the hire will have to present a clear vision for a new offense.
“We haven’t had the balance between our defensive excellence (and offense),” Emery said. “We’ve had special teams excellence. We have not had consistency on the offensive side of the ball. We have gone through a number of coordinators. We have searched for answers.”
Emery also wants a positive personality that will inspire those around him to achieve the goals that are set.
“I want somebody to have some warmth that pulls everybody together in that we have synergy not only with our players but everybody in the building to work towards our common goal,” he said. “Upbeat and positive. Everybody has a different personality. Everybody represents themselves in a different way, but those qualities are paramount. We all want to work together in a position environment towards winning championships.
“I want somebody that’s good on their feet. I think working with the media, not only in Chicago but in a national sense is very important. I want this person to stand up and represent us well. It’s a very tough job. It’s very demanding. Wins and losses weigh heavily week to week. There needs to be a level of consistency in this individual in how he presents himself, not only when we’re up but when we’re down and how we’re going to rebound from being down.
“I’m excited to go through this process. We have started that process. We do candidates lined up to talk to this week. We have candidates lined up for the following week. It’s an ongoing process and like I said we are working through a wide variety of people. No one has been excluded. It’s an open process. I want to talk to these individuals, listen to them, listen to their thoughts about how they can lead the Chicago Bears towards excellence.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune