Bears coaching search gets help from NFL playoff losers
By Sean Jensen firstname.lastname@example.org January 13, 2013 9:21PM
Phil Emery, Ted Phillips
Updated: January 14, 2013 7:37PM
Four more teams were eliminated from Super Bowl contention this weekend, but the Bears were among the beneficiaries as they prepare to take the next step in their coaching search.
Assuming he didn’t have his eye on a mystery candidate, Bears general manager Phil Emery won’t have to wait on an assistant still on one of the four teams playing in the title games next Sunday.
Mike McCoy, Rick Dennison, Darrell Bevell and Tom Clements are free to interview or accept a coaching offer because the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, respectively, were eliminated Saturday and Sunday.
The only candidate who is still on a playoff team is Keith Armstrong, the special-teams coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.
So what do the Bears want?
“Ultimately, the synergy with Phil will play a big part,” Bears president Ted Phillips said two days after the season. “Phil spoke about a history of excellence in whatever role that those individuals had.
“That’s going to be critical. And ultimately, I have great confidence in Phil.”
Phillips specifically highlighted Emery’s consistency, thoroughness and preparation, which all seem evident during the team’s search.
So what does Emery want?
Someone who is a team player, meaning they’re not power-hungry or egomaniacal. Someone who has a history of developing players and effectively leading others. Someone who is high energy, highly organized.
And, of course, a track record of success.
“No. 1 criteria is excellence in their role,” Emery said during his news conference after the season. “Whatever that role is.”
Phillips mentioned the word “synergy,” which Emery highlighted several times in his news conference. He’s looking for a coach to create a partnership like the one that was on display in Atlanta, on both sidelines.
Falcons coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, as well as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, have great working relationships. In fact, of the final eight playoff teams, only the New England Patriots have an authoritarian coach who also makes personnel decisions.
The other teams have strong coaches and respected GMs.
“I’m looking for that synergy, we have to make decisions in lockstep,” Emery said. “We don’t always have to agree. But in the end, we have to have the right synergy together to make the most positive move going forward for the team.”
So while the Bears’ 13 known candidates have different strengths and weaknesses, only Emery can determine whom he connects with and whom he believes he can partner with to lead the Bears to championships.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills have hired new coaches, but none were believed to be on the Bears’ radar.
But time becomes more important now: the Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers hired new general managers, and they’re aggressively trying to play catch-up in hiring a new coach. The Philadelphia Eagles also are in the market.
The Bears might still have a shot at Emery’s initial ideal timetable.
“My druthers would be ideally that I could stand shoulder to shoulder with this person during the All-Star games — the East-West is coming up,” Emery said 13 days ago.
That game is next Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla.