Bears Insider

Hoge: Where things stand with Bears' GM, coach search

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Now a week into the Bears’ search for a new general manager and head coach, many are wondering how long it will take for the team to find the two most important figures of its new regime.

With advisor Bill Polian helping chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips conduct the search, the Bears have already conducted nine GM interviews and six head coach interviews, with many more scheduled this week.

Here’s a look at where things stand, how long the rest of the process might take and what variables could come into play that alter the timeline:

Where things stand

The Bears are taking a deliberate approach while interviewing general manager and head coach candidates simultaneously. They are doing two interviews per day, but managed to knock out three on Saturday. 

Here’s the list of candidates who have interviewed:

General manager

Browns vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook
Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly
Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah
Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland
Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort
Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen
Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds
Patriots scouting consultant Eliot Wolf

The following candidates will reportedly interview or have been requested to interview: Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown, Chargers director of player personnel JoJo Wooden, Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles, 49ers director of personnel Ran Carthon, Dolphins senior personnel executive Reggie McKenzie, Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan, and former Texans executive vice president of football operations/GM Rick Smith.

Head coach

Former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson
Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores
Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
Former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll
Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus

The following candidates will reportedly interview this week: Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

Why is this taking so long?

It’s only been eight days since Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy were fired. In past searches, the Bears didn’t cast a wide enough net and this time they seem determined to talk to as many candidates as possible. Nothing is abnormal about the timeline so far.

When will a hire be made?

Bears chairman George McCaskey said it’s his preference to hire a general manager first, but he did not rule out hiring a head coach first if it’s the right guy. But with so many head coaching candidates playing in playoff games this weekend — and with four interviews scheduled later this week — it’s unlikely the Bears will hire a coach in the next few days.

That said, Quinn is already available and many around the league believe he will receive one of the eight open head coach jobs. And it’s entirely possible Daboll and Frazier will see their seasons end Sunday evening in Kansas City. Thus, there could be a lot of movement early next week, so it might make sense for the Bears to have a general manager in place. 

Two things alter hiring timelines in the NFL: competition and playoff games. Both of the Bears’ last two head coach hires were made shortly after the coach they hired lost a playoff game. Daboll, in particular, is drawing a lot of interest, so if the Bills lose Sunday, he could have a head coaching job by Monday. 

There are examples of coaches accepting a job before their current season is over, but those agreements can be risky. In 2018, the Colts thought they had Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels locked up, but he ended up backing out after the Super Bowl. A year later, however, the Bengals lined up Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor for their head coaching job and he made the move official after the Super Bowl. 

When it comes to the general manager position, the key is to watch who becomes a finalist for another team. Tuesday, Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen took a second interview with the New York Giants and is considered a finalist there. Schoen interviewed with the Bears on Sunday and if they are serious about hiring him, that could alter their current timetable. Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles was also reportedly called back for a second interview with the Giants, but he has yet to interview with the Bears, despite being requested.

As of right now, Schoen appears to be the only serious Bears candidate considered to be a finalist with another team, but we could see more movement this week — especially with the GM jobs as teams line up for more coaching activity next week.

Any wild cards?

Until Jim Harbaugh either announces he’s staying at Michigan or takes another job, his name can’t be ignored in the Bears’ search for a head coach. Because he is not currently employed by an NFL team, the Bears do not need to announce an interview with Harbaugh or even acknowledge that one ever occurred. He would fall under the category of coaches worth hiring before a general manager and it would be important that the GM is someone he trusts. Harbaugh’s success with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14 can’t be debated (49-22-1, including the playoffs) but he was involved in a power struggle with then-GM Trent Baalke that led to an unraveling of the 49ers’ success. 

At this point, the Bears seem content moving methodically through their lengthy list of GM and head coaching candidates, but if at any point Harbaugh indicates that he wants the job, it could — and probably should — alter the process. 

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