Caleb Williams

Kliff Kingsbury interview more about Caleb Williams than Bears' OC job

Ryan Poles might be on a different kind of mission with the Kliff Kingsbury interview

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The Bears and Kliff Kingsbury made waves Thursday when it leaked that the former Arizona Cardinals head coach and current USC senior offensive analyst and quarterbacks coach would be interviewing for Chicago's offensive coordinator position.

Kingsbury interviewed Friday in Los Angeles, becoming the ninth candidate to be linked to the open position.

Reactions to the Kingsbury interview weren't favorable. Former Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt said hiring Kingsbury would be the worst thing head coach Matt Eberflus could do.

Kingsbury's Air Raid offense -- a spread, pass-heavy attack -- was hit and miss during his time with the Cardinals. But he led them to the playoffs during the 2021 season, in which his offense ranked in the top 10 in points, yards, passing, and rushing. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray won the 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in Kingsbury's offense.

The Cardinals' offense fell off in 2022, and there are questions about whether Kingsbury's attack can be consistently successful in the NFL.

Six of the nine candidates the Bears have interest in come from or have experience in the Shanahan tree. That Kingsbury comes from a completely different offensive background signals that his interview is unique.

That's because it's likely more about what he knows and about who than what he can bring to the Bears' organization.

The Bears are doing their due diligence on the quarterbacks atop the 2024 NFL Draft, starting with 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, who Kingsbury coached this past season at USC.

While the Bears could be interested in Kingsbury's concepts and ideas for their offense, he is also a valuable resource for Poles and Eberflus to tap into as they try to decide whether to stick with Justin Fields or draft Williams at No. 1 overall.

Given the amount of time Kingsbury spent with Williams this past season, there might be no better person for the Bears to talk to at this juncture to learn about who Williams is as a person, what works for him offensively, the things he still needs to fine-tune, and how best to construct an offense around his skill set.

Kingsbury, who has coached Patrick Mahomes and Johnny Manziel, spoke glowingly about Williams earlier this season in a conversation with former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops on his 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."

It makes sense for the Bears to interview Kingsbury. He's always been a fantastic offensive mind and could find success working with a young quarterback on a team run by a defensive-minded head coach who will allow him autonomy running the offense.

Perhaps Kingsbury will leave an impression on Poles and Eberflus and find himself as the finalist for the job. There's a chance he could be a good fit for Williams as an NFL OC. None of that is inconceivable.

But this interview was likely more of a fact-finding mission about Williams than a job interview.

Maybe Kingsbury will blow the Bears away and force them to stray from the Shanahan tree they seem fixated on. At the very least, the Bears will get some insightful intelligence on someone they will be considering at No. 1.

Poles is preparing to make a franchise-altering decision this offseason. Any information he can get on Williams will be invaluable as he goes through the process. Getting to pick KIngsbury's brain under the guise of a job interview is a smart move that should prove beneficial whether Kingsbury gets the job or not.

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