Bears Insider

Breaking down Bears' OC search from Kliff Kingsbury to Greg Roman

The Bears' have a deep candidate pool for OC but only a few should be considered legitimate contenders for the job

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The Bears' search for an offensive coordinator will continue Friday when they are slated to interview USC senior offensive analyst and quarterbacks coach Kliff Kingsbury for the position in Los Angeles.

Kingsbury will be the ninth candidate to interview for the position since the Bears fired Luke Getsy and several members of the offensive staff on Jan. 10.

General manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus are turning over every stone to find the best possible offensive coordinator. It has been an exhaustive search that could still see more candidates emerge.

But with the search now nine candidates deep, here's an overview of each candidate and whether or not the Bears should give them the job.

Kliff Kingsbury

Kingsbury differs from most of the other candidates on the Bears' list in that he comes from the Air Raid tree -- a pass-heavy, spread offense -- and not the Shanahan tree.

It's fair to view the Bears' interview of Kingsbury as more of a fact-finding mission on potential No. 1 pick Caleb Williams -- who Kingsbury coached this past season at USC -- than a legitimate job interview. Draft scouting is a non-stop endeavor, and this is an excellent way to get information on Williams under the guise of a job interview.

But if the Bears are already leaning in Williams' direction, Kingsbury could be a good fit as a play-caller for the rookie quarterback. Kingsbury's offenses with the Arizona Cardinals were more miss than hit, but he did guide them to a playoff berth in 2021.

Kingsbury has previously coached Patrick Mahomes and Johnny Manziel and had this to say about Williams earlier this season on Bob Stoops' podcast "Conversations with Coach."

“His joy for the game. His competitive spirit. The talent level is unbelievable," Kingsbury said of Williams. "Obviously, I’ve been around Patrick [Mahomes] and he’s eerily similar in some ways: the ability to extend plays, off-platform throws, and just the way they both play the game is pretty scary.”

I've always been a pro-Kingsbury guy, and I can see why the Bears might want to bring in someone who knows Williams and can build an offense around his skill set. But it wouldn't be a move I'd make.

Verdict: Pass

Marcus Brady

Another candidate from outside the Shanahan tree, Brady coached with Eberflus for three years in Indianapolis. Brady started as an assistant quarterbacks coach in 2018 before becoming offensive coordinator in 2021 and 2022.

The Colts were a prolific rushing team in 2021, finishing second in the NFL. But the offense fell off in 2022. The Colts finished 27th in total offense, and Brady was fired midway through the season. He spent this past season as a senior offensive analyst for the Philadelphia Eagles.

This isn't who the Bears are looking for.

Verdict: Pass

Greg Roman

We'll wrap up the list of non-Shanahan-Tree candidates here with Roman.

The former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator is one of the best run-game tacticians in the NFL, and he engineered the offense that helped Lamar Jackson win the MVP in 2019.

But while Roman's offenses have always been deadly on the ground, he struggled to evolve and create a dynamic passing attack off his run game. In his 10 years as an NFL offensive coordinator, Roman has only led one offense that finished in the top 15 in passing (2021 Ravens).

Roman's run-game brilliance could be considered a nice fit with Justin Fields. But the Bears want Fields to continue to improve as a passer, and the Ravens moved on from Roman because he couldn't find a way to open up the passing game for Jackson like Todd Monken did this year.

It's a good information-gathering interview, but it can't be the answer.

Verdict: Pass

Thomas Brown

Brown recently worked as the Carolina Panthers' offensive coordinator this past season. Before that, he spent three seasons working under Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Panthers' offense struggled mightily this past season with rookie quarterback Bryce Young at the controls and limited offensive skill talent. The Panthers finished the season tied for last in points per game (13.9), last in yards per game (265.3), and last in passing yards per game (161.2).

Head coach Frank Reich called the plays for the first six games before handing over duties to Brown. Reich took the play-calling back three games later. Reich was fired after Week 12, and Brown finished out the season calling the plays for interim head coach Chris Tabor.

Brown also is scheduled to interview for the Tennessee Titans' head-coaching job.

Verdict: Pass

Greg Olson

Olson has extensive experience as an offensive coordinator and play-caller. The 60-year-old has been an OC for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Oakland and Las Vegas Raiders, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He worked under McVay in 2022 and was the Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach this past season.

Olson is a veteran play-caller, but his offenses have rarely been anything special. The Bears can find a better option from the Shanahan-McVay tree.

Verdict: Pass

Liam Coen

The Kentucky offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has one season of NFL offensive coordinator experience. Coen was the OC for the 2022 Rams, but McVay called the plays. Coen also worked on McVay's staff from 2018 to 2020 as an assistant quarterbacks coach and assistant wide receivers coach.

Coen has called plays in college at Brown, Rhode Island, UMass, Maine, and Kentucky. Coen's 2021 Kentucky offense averaged 425.4 yards and 32.3 points per game. The 2023 Wildcats averaged 339.5 yards per game and 29.1 points per game.

Coen is viewed as a bright offensive mind in league circles, but he probably isn't Option 1A.

Verdict: Fine choice

Zac Robinson

Now we arrive at who should be the top three contenders.

Robinson interviewed for the job on Thursday. The 37-year-old has spent the last five seasons working on McVay's staff. He has spent the last two seasons as the Rams' quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

Robinson played a significant role in re-inventing a Rams' passing attack that finished in the top 10 in points, total offense, passing yards, and yards per pass.

The former Oklahoma State quarterback is also slated to interview with the New Orleans Saints for their open OC job.

He's viewed as a rising star in the coaching ranks who is expected to land an OC job this cycle. He doesn't have play-calling experience but is highly regarded and would check many boxes for the Bears.

Verdict: Hire him

Shane Waldron

The first guy to interview for the job should still be at the top of the Bears' list.

Waldron spent the last three seasons as the Seattle Seahawks' offensive coordinator. The 44-year-old worked with both Russell Wilson and Geno Smith. He played a crucial role in helping Smith win Comeback Player of the Year in 2022.

Waldron previously spent four seasons coaching under McVay with the Rams as the passing game coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and tight ends coach.

In the last three seasons under Waldron, the Seahawks' offense put up these numbers:

-- Yards per play: 5.5 (Sixth in NFL)
-- 0.016 EPA/play (12th)
-- 44.4 percent success rate (13th)
-- Explosive pass play rate 14 percent (Ninth)
-- Explosive run percentage 14.5 percent (Fifth)
-- Red Zone TD Rate 51.5 percent (26th)
-- Third down conversion 38.5 (23rd)

There are some questions about Waldron's offense (red zone, third down), but overall, he'd be a tremendous hire.

Verdict: Hire him

Klint Kubiak

The 36-year-old Kubiak is in his first season as the 49ers' passing game coordinator under Kyle Shanahan. Prior to that, Kubiak worked as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2022 Denver Broncos and was the offensive coordinator for the 2021 Minnesota Vikings.

The 2021 Vikings ranked:
-- First in plays of 15-plus yards
-- Sixth in 25-plus gains
-- Seventh in 40-plus gains
-- Ninth in Red Zone TD Percentage
-- 11th in passing
-- 12th in yards
-- 14th in scoring
-- 20th in first downs
-- 26th in third down conversion rate

Kubiak took over play-calling duties from Nathaniel Hackett during the 2022 season with the Broncos. With Kubiak calling plays, the Broncos went from averaging a league-worst 13.8 points per game to 24.2 in Weeks 14-18, which ranked 11th.

The son of Gary Kubiak, Klint Kubiak is well-versed in the Shanahan offense. Many around the league think highly of Kubiak and give him a lot of the credit for helping Brock Purdy's Year 2 rise.

Verdict: Hire him

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