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Colts O-coordinator Bruce Arians seems best-equipped for Bears

Is Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians best candidate coach Bears 2013? | AP Photo

Is Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians the best candidate to coach the Bears in 2013? | AP Photo

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Updated: January 7, 2013 10:32AM

As he zigzags the country in search of a coach, Bears general manager Phil Emery has delivered on his promise from six days ago to “look at a wide variety of candidates.”

He already has interviewed at least five, and he’s scheduled to meet at least four more this week: Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman on Monday, Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

The best candidate is in the eye of the beholder. There are so many variables, and only Emery — who has the final say — can determine the right person to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with for this new chapter in Bears history.

But the safest candidate is obvious: That would be Arians.

Of all the available coaches —from Oregon coach Chip Kelly to Trestman — Arians seems the best-equipped to take over the Bears.

A wishbone quarterback at Virginia Tech, Arians has coached for more than 35 years, six as a head coach (at Temple), 12 as an offensive coordinator and 20 in the NFL.

He has developed quarterbacks and receivers, most notably Peyton Manning, Plaxico Burress and Andrew Luck.

He has called plays, including Super Bowl XLIII, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.

And he has worked for some highly successful coaches, including Bear Bryant and Bill Cowher.

And while he didn’t have a standout record at Temple, Arians served as the interim coach of the Colts this season as Chuck Pagano battled leukemia. Taking over a 1-2 team that went 2-14 last season, Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record and into the postseason.

The nine-game turnaround is the second-largest from one season to the next in NFL history.

“If I was a general manager or an owner, I would give him a chance because of all the things he’s done over his career and the young players he’s helped develop,” said former Steelers receiver Hines Ward, now an NBC Sports analyst. “For Jay Cutler, he’d love to have a guy who is so offensive-minded like a Bruce Arians.”

Arians, 60, was Ward’s receivers coach, then offensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011, and Ward marveled at Arians’ infectious personality and knack for getting the most from all his players.

“He never wanted to change anyone,” Ward said. “He never wanted to put restraints. He always thought everyone had their own personality and let them be and put them in a position to make plays.”

The Colts’ season is over, ending Sunday with a 24-9 loss in Baltimore. Arians wasn’t at the game because of an illness that required him to be hospitalized, but the Colts said he’d be fine.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson previously said the team would be aggressive in trying to keep Arians. But Pagano isn’t going anywhere, and Arians aspires to be a head coach in the right situation.

Former Colts Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday said he’s ready.

‘‘You would never want what happened to happen, but he’s a guy you want to play hard for,” Saturday said, referring to the Colts’ roller-coaster season. “He’s got that way about him. I hope he has a shot to take over his own team because he’s been in this league a long time and done a lot of winning.”

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