Of NFL teams with coaching vacancies, Bears boast the most
By Sean Jensen email@example.com January 2, 2013 9:23PM
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler passes the ball in the second quarter of the Chicago Bears 34-29 win over the Carolina Panthers Sunday October 2, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: January 3, 2013 7:19PM
Seven NFL clubs are looking for new coaches, and the Bears believe they have the most to offer.
“You’re representing the greatest city in the world,” chairman George McCaskey said, “and a charter National Football League franchise.”
Location and history aside, the Bears’ vacancy is the most appealing, according to an executive on a club not making a coaching change and two agents who represent coaching candidates.
“It’s a no-brainer,” the executive said.
The Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers also are in the market for a new coach, and all of the clubs have begun the process in earnest.
But one of the agents of several candidates said the appeal of the Bears is three-fold: a commitment to success, an appealing environment for a coach and, perhaps most important, a franchise-caliber quarterback.
Cutler was the 20th-rated quarterback in 2012, but he’s 29 years old and a one-time Pro Bowl selection. The Cardinals, Bills and Chiefs are looking for a quarterback, and the Browns (Brandon Weeden) and Eagles (Nick Foles) still don’t know what they have.
The Chargers have four-time Pro Bowl selection Philip Rivers, but he’s older than Cutler and has been hampered by interceptions and lost fumbles the last two seasons.
“Whether he’s long term or not,” an agent said of Cutler, “at least he’s done something.”
But one of the agents said there are concerns about the Bears. They fired Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season, their best defensive players are on the wrong side of 30, and the market, like Philadelphia, is a stressful one.
Another potential drawback is the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers have been one of the strongest teams in recent memory, the Minnesota Vikings were a surprise playoff entrant and the Detroit Lions, despite some issues, still boast some of the most talented players in the NFL, most notably Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of all seven situations:
Pros: Perennial Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the nucleus of a talented defense and good facilities and stadium.
Cons: Shaky quarterbacks, porous offensive line, weak link in a tough division and mixed opinions on ownership’s commitment to winning.
Pros: Explosive running back C.J. Spiller, receiver Stevie Johnson and a couple of solid defensive players.
Cons: No quarterback, limited salary-cap space, less-than-stellar front office and a lot of holes on the roster.
Pros: Some young, ascending players, especially on defense, and a rabid fan base desperate for success.
Cons: Jury is still out on Weeden, who had a rating of 72.6 as a rookie, and both sides of the ball rank in the bottom third of the league.
Pros: The No. 1 draft pick, running back Jamaal Charles and a lot of talented players, as evidenced by five Pro Bowl selections.
Cons: No quarterback, no clear No. 1 pick with an expected weak market for a trade and the unclear status of GM Scott Pioli, who is leading the coaching search.
Pros: An owner who isn’t afraid to spend, talented skill players such as running back LeSean McCoy and receiver DeSean Jackson and a good market with good fans and good facilities.
Cons: Salary-cap challenges, potentially awkward rapport with general manager Howie Roseman, whose background isn’t in personnel, and an unproven quarterback.
Pros: Rivers, 31, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, and a top-10 defense that features players such as safety Eric Weddle.
Cons: The stars have been flooding out of San Diego, and they haven’t been replaced; sketchy offensive line; and the presence of John Spanos, the owner’s son, who works in the personnel department.