Rick Dennison offers attractive links as candidate for Bears job
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org January 9, 2013 10:14PM
DENVER - NOVEMBER 22: Offensive line coach Rick Dennison (R) of the Denver Broncos talks with offensive guard Chris Kuper #73 of the Broncos as they face the San Diego Chargers during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 22, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 32-3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rick Dennison;Chris Kuper
Updated: January 10, 2013 12:30PM
Rick Dennison, the offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans, isn’t the grandest “name” candidate available.
Although seven NFL clubs were searching for coaches, only the Bears have requested an interview with Dennison since the 2012 regular season ended.
Only Bears general manager Phil Emery can ascertain whether he clicks with Dennison, whom he’s scheduled to interview Friday in the Houston area.
But if Dennison is the choice, he might offer something unique other candidates cannot: change and continuity.
Dennison comes from a completely different so-called “coaching tree” than Lovie Smith, who developed under Tony Dungy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dennison worked under Mike Shanahan with the Denver Broncos and now under Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who was groomed by Shanahan.
So he would bring in a whole new offensive scheme, one similar to those in Denver and Houston. Yet indications are he might be inclined to keep several of the Bears assistants under contract, most prominently defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
But curiously, Dennison also has a relationship with quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, with whom he worked closely in Denver.
And while the status of Bates is up in the air, both receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler reinforced their belief in him after the 2012 season.
Cutler was asked about Bates on Wednesday during his weekly radio show on ESPN 1000.
“One of the best coaches I’ve been around,” Cutler said. “Very dedicated, extremely hard worker. Takes it very personally. I think he’s gifted in his game planning.
“It’s an art,” Cutler said of play calling, “and he’s one of the handful of guys out there who really get it.”
Bates didn’t call plays in 2012.
That duty was handled by Mike Tice, who wrapped up a turbulent rookie season as an offensive coordinator. But here’s something that came to light in recent days: Dennison and Tice apparently know each other well and have a mutual respect for one another.
So could Tice remain on staff, perhaps as an offensive-line coach or co-coordinator with Bates somehow?
And if he Dennison is willing to keep them, then perhaps he would retain some of the other talented assistants Smith hired, such as special teams coordinator Dave Toub.
Cutler has a connection to Dennison, CFL coach Marc Trestman and current Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, whom Emery interviewed Sunday.
But Cutler was most effusive in his praise of Dennison during his radio show.
“Rico is one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL,” Cutler said, referring to Dennison by his nickname. “Great guy off the field. Very, very smart. Intellectual guy.
“He’s going to get a head-coaching job at some point. Great candidate. I have a lot of respect for him.”
It’s worth noting that Cutler’s best NFL season was 2008, when Dennison was his offensive coordinator and Bates was his quarterbacks coach.
On Wednesday night, a Houston Chronicle columnist said on his Twitter account that “Dennison wants the Bears job.”
But Dennison played it cool during his news conference with Houston-area reporters Wednesday.
“Obviously it’s a great honor to have somebody inquire about a job of that type,” Dennison said, “but I’ll have to handle that at the end of the week because my big focus, my only focus, is getting this team ready to play the [New England] Patriots.”