The Bears are looking for their 18th coach in franchise history. Matt Nagy got off to a good start in 2018 with a 12-4 winning NFC North team in Chicago, but after more than a disappointing three-year follow-up in which the team went 22-27 in the regular season, the team fired Nagy, in need of a change from perceived low performance.
Although the Bears were the No. 7 seed as an 8-8 wild card in the 2020 playoffs, there were high expectations that Nagy, despite another quick and done, would be the right offensive-minded coach to get the most out of the promising player. rookie first-round quarterback Justin Fields. But given some of the same shaky vibes from having Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears couldn’t afford to let another first-round quarterback fail under Nagy’s supervision.
Nagy, 43, did well as another coach from Andy Reid’s tree, but the bottom line is that the Bears have seen the Packers and Vikings grow stronger in the division and the pressure is on closing that gap ASAP. while getting the best of Fields on his rookie contract.
So who would be the ideal successor for Nagy to pair up with Fields, hopefully for a long time? Here’s a ranking of the nine best coach candidates available to the Bears:
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator (age 52)
Bieniemy has been shortlisted for a new hire for several off-seasons after Doug Pederson and Nagy left this position with Reid to become coaches with varying degrees of success. The Bears can’t let Nagy’s disappointment discourage them from looking for a worthy candidate, even if the Chiefs would be his former employers. Bieniemy has done well working with Patrick Mahomes and he deserves the opportunity to lead an entire team with another potential franchise passer.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator (age: 33)
There have been some comparisons made between Fields and Dak Prescott, so why not turn to the playmaker who has helped turn Prescott into an elite passer with the double threat of running in his back pocket? Moore may still be too young, but it could also be time for a real big shot to get his shot in Chicago. Moore is mature and has learned well from Super Bowl winner Mike McCarthy.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Head Coach (Age: 58)
Reports say Harbaugh is mulling the idea of returning to the NFL after leading the Wolverines to the college football playoff for the first time, and it wasn’t just a bid for a new, more lucrative contract. The rumors have been tied primarily to the Raiders as Jon Gruden’s replacement, but Harbaugh cannot be forgotten for the team he used as a quarterback early in his solid playing career. He’d be a great signing, of course, given that he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl 10 years ago doing good things with double-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh and Fields could be a special combination.
Leslie Frazier, Bills defensive coordinator (age: 62)
Frazier has excelled working under Sean McDermott and has long needed a second coaching stint from his time with the NFC North rivals Vikings. It can bring a cleaning mindset that is needed for defense. He remains a popular figure in Chicago for being part of the dominant 1985 Super Bowl-winning defense as a player.
Joe Brady, former Panthers offensive coordinator (age: 32)
Brady would be in the same category of child prodigy as Moore. He is an excellent game designer, as seen in what he did to try to rejuvenate Cam Newton. You can do a lot with a mobile QB and you have the LSU championship experience. He would have a lot of fun making Fields an ultimate weapon.
Matt Eberflus, Colts defensive coordinator (age: 51)
This is the best defensive-minded option for the Bears, just down Interstate 57 in Indianapolis. Former Frank Reich offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni is finding his groove in Philadelphia as a rookie and Eberflus can do well as well given how well organized, structured and trained the Colts are. It would give the Bears their old-school defensive sensibilities and make them strong mentally and physically. He would also let a new OC do his thing with Fields and not get in the way.
Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator (age 41)
Leftwich also deserves a head coaching shot after being a prized Bruce Arians protégé and winning a Super Bowl with Tom Brady. He could connect well with Fields as a one-time first-round QB. He’s there with Moore and Brady in being wiser for his age, just a little more experienced.
Demeco Ryans, 49ers defensive coordinator (age: 37)
Here’s an underrated developing candidate from the Kyle Shanahan tree after the Jets signed Robert Saleh. Ryans, the former Texans standout linebacker, is a respected player coach, an energetic and fiery motivator like Saleh, the man he succeeded. The Bears could use some of that retrospective defensive mentality and Ryans would also be a good influence on Fields from the other side of the ball.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern Head Coach (Age: 47)
Fitzgerald has hinted that the only job he would leave his beloved Evanston alma mater for would be the one 25 miles northeast of his hometown of Orland Park, Illinois. Had a cup of coffee with the Cowboys as an All-American a long time ago. But some in the NFL believe he has the right motivation to make a good career transition on the sidelines. There’s no question that if the Bears call him in for an interview and they like him, the chances are high that he’ll take the job.
Mike Kafka, Chiefs quarterback coach (age 34)
This is one way the Bears can access the Chiefs and Fitzgerald’s Northwestern program at the same time. Kafka is a bright young mind under Reid and Bieniemy, soon to take on a prominent offensive coordinator position. You could also jump that level with the right opportunity. He is a Chicago native who starred in St. Rita before NU and became a fourth-round QB pick for the Eagles in 2010.
Ryan Day, Ohio State Head Coach (age 42)
Could the opportunity to re-coach Fields lure Day out of Columbus, following Urban Meyer to the NFL with better professional prospects? Don’t rule it out. Day has experience in the NFL as he coached quarterbacks for the Eagles and 49ers in 2015 and 2016 before taking the OC job for Ohio State. It’s highly unlikely, but the Bears are an attractive brand and could make him an aggressive offer to leave his comfortable job.