The Monday following the conclusion of the NFL regular season is informally referred to as “Black Monday”. It’s common for the head coaches of teams that fail to qualify for the playoffs to receive their walking papers on the first day of their offseason.
Matt Nagy, formerly head coach of the Chicago Bears, was a victim of this year’s annual purge, leaving one of the most important seats at Halas Hall empty. There’s widespread speculation on who will assume that enviable post as head coach of one of the game’s flagship franchises.
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Brian Flores, Brian Daboll | +400
Flores, recently fired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in spite of leading them to two consecutive winning seasons, is a hot candidate with a number of teams vying for his services. When things go awry for NFL teams, it’s natural for them to appoint the “opposite” type of coach in their attempt to right the ship. In this case, Flores would be a defensive-minded head coach tasked with cleaning the wreckage left behind by Nagy, a supposed offensive guru.
Daboll is the offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl hopeful Buffalo Bills, and as such, a primary architect of one of the game’s most prolific offenses. And not to mention, he is one of the key figures in the development of Josh Allen, who has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the game. The job he’s done turning Allen from a raw, all-arm, limited-touch thrower into a multi-dimensional leader under center will certainly be at the forefront of conversation as Bears brass considers what’s best for Justin Fields, the second-year quarterback to whom the Bears are pinning their future.
Other Potential Candidates
Leslie Frazier +650, Jim Harbaugh +700, Doug Pederson +800
Frazier coordinates the Bills’ stifling defense, a unit that ranked at — or near — the top of a number of traditional and advanced metrics. Sure, it certainly helps to have the roster to reach those elevated levels of play, but the Bears take pride in their defensive identity and the organization has some familiarity with Frazier given his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, where he progressed from defensive coordinator to head coach — a title he held from 2011-2013.
Harbaugh quarterbacked the Bears for seven seasons from 1987-1993, compiling a 35-30 record. He coached in the NFL from 2011-2014, leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season and finishing with a 44-19-1 mark before his alma mater, Michigan, successfully lured him to roam the sidelines in Ann Arbor. The move of a hot college coach to the NFL often delivers more hype than success, but Harbaugh has an impressive NFL coaching resume, and he brings a presence that would almost immediately flush any lingering aftertaste from Nagy’s tenure.
Pederson led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2017, followed by back-to-back 9-7 seasons with playoff berths, but got the boot after one 4-11-1 season. Relationships deteriorated behind the scenes, namely between him and former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. Of course, considering Wentz’s 2021 implosion — losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars by two touchdowns in a Week 18 must-win spot to earn a playoff berth qualifies as an “implosion” — it’s fair to wonder how much blame should’ve been placed at the feet of Pederson. The Bears just jettisoned one Andy Reid pupil in Nagy, so it’s fair to wonder if the organization would dip back into that pool. Pederson served as Reid’s offensive coordinator from 2013-2015. He owns a 42-37-1 record as a head coach, though, which one may assume is enough to overshadow less recent stops. However, the biggest mistake in this scenario would be assuming logical decision-making from those in a position to call the shots
Longshot To Consider
Ryan Day +2000
More often than not, the hottest names among the college ranks are folded into the annual NFL coaching cycle. Some have enjoyed success, i.e. Pete Carroll and Harbaugh, who took Stanford to an Orange Bowl win before leaving for the 49ers. Others failed miserably, i.e. Steve Spurrier and Chip Kelly. Some, such as Urban Meyer and Bobby Petrino, left a trail of disgrace in their wake. Day has compiled a 34-4 mark as Ohio State boss, and led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff twice, reaching the title game in 2020. He has the college credentials to land on NFL radars, but he’s priced at +2000 for a reason. Coaches at perennial powerhouse programs are looked upon as god-like figures, so jumping to the NFL isn’t always the slam dunk promotion it would appear to be on paper.
The person tabbed as the Bears’ next head coach will inherit a challenge. They’re in dire need of offensive line upgrades and they’re without a first-round pick. However, with Fields under center and a few other quality pieces throughout the roster, it won’t necessarily require a lengthy turnaround to get the Bears back on track.
Photo courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire