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Bears’ GM Phil Emery nears second stage of interviews

Phil Emery might conclude his search for new coach sooner than later perhaps time for East-West Shrine Game next Saturday.

Phil Emery might conclude his search for a new coach sooner than later, perhaps in time for the East-West Shrine Game next Saturday. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 13, 2013 6:12AM



After fulfilling his promise to interview a “wide variety of candidates,” Bears general manager Phil Emery appears to be inching closer to taking the next step in hiring the franchise’s 14th head coach.

Emery is scheduled to interview five candidates between Friday and Sunday, and it’s believed he then will move to the next stage.

Two days after the season ended, Emery noted that he would like to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with his coach during the All-Star Games. He mentioned the East-West Shrine Game, which is next Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

While that time frame might be aggressive, Emery’s search could end sooner than later.

Or much sooner if you believed a Twitter post from Super Bowl-champion coach Jimmy Johnson on Friday morning. Johnson congratulated former assistant Rob Chudzinski on being named the Cleveland Browns’ coach, then suggested [Marc] “Trestman to Chicago.”

That still might happen, but the Bears’ interviews are ongoing, and they’re plenty competitive.

Four other teams still are looking for a new coach, and a few of the candidates are drawing interest from multiple teams. Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has interviewed with three of the teams. The Bears interviewed him last Sunday in Denver.

Bears candidates Tom Clements (Green Bay Packers), Rick Dennison (Houston Texans), Keith Armstrong (Atlanta Falcons), Darrell Bevell (Seattle Seahawks) and McCoy are on teams still in the playoffs. But it appears the Bears might be prepared to move to the finalist stage regardless of which teams win this weekend.

Per NFL rules, assistant coaches on teams that advance to a conference title game or the Super Bowl have a harder time landing a head-coaching job. After Sunday, teams looking for a coach can’t conduct any initial or second-round interviews with assistants still in the playoffs until the open week before the Super Bowl.

Teams tend not to wait because they want their new coach to assemble his staff, and the upcoming All-Star Games provide optimal opportunities to do that.

On Friday, the Kansas City Chiefs announced a handful of hires for new coach Andy Reid, including both coordinator spots. In addition, Bears special-teams coordinator Dave Toub interviewed with the Chiefs for a job Friday. Toub interviewed for the Bears’ head-coaching vacancy Monday and an assistant-coaching spot on the Carolina Panthers’ staff Wednesday.

Emery has interviewed at least eight candidates already, and he was scheduled to speak to Dennison on Friday in Houston, then head to Atlanta to interview Bevell, who is preparing for a game Sunday against the Falcons. Emery also is expected to visit with Minnesota Vikings assistants Mike Singletary and Mike Preifer in Atlanta before heading back to the Midwest — ­either Indianapolis or Chicago — to speak to Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

After that, Emery is expected to bring chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips into the fold.

“After we’re at the point where we feel we have good quality candidates to select two or three as finalists,” Emery said, “we will either have them come to us or go to them so we have an opportunity for them to talk to George or to talk to Ted and that George and Ted can interact with them and get a feel for them.

“At the end, the final decision will be mine.”

Emery emphasized that he’s looking for “synergy” with his new coach, and he didn’t seem to lose any momentum in the last week. There were no indications the Bears were interested in any of the coaches already hired — Chudzinski, Reid and the Buffalo Bills’ Doug Marrone.

But the Bears might be getting aggressive at just the right time, with the college All-Star Games about to start and the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers expected to play catch-up after recently hiring general managers.



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