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The Chicago Bears have found their new general manager in Ryan Poles, and it’s full-steam ahead as the new GM searches for a new head coach.
Right now, the Bears have three finalists for their head coach vacancy: former Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
It’s worth noting all three had second interviews scheduled before Poles was hired as GM. So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see additional names added to the ring. Especially given the belief is that Poles will be in charge of picking the next head coach.
But for now, here’s a look at the Bears’ three head coach finalists and where they rank on my list:
AP Photo/Zach Bolinger
Relevant Experience: Colts defensive coordinator (2018-Present); Cowboys linebackers coach & passing game coordinator (2016-17)
Analysis: Eberflus was expected to be a hot commodity among head coaching vacancies this offseason, which appears to be the case as he’s a finalist for both the Bears and Jaguars jobs. While offensive-minded coaching candidates are more attractive nowadays, that doesn’t mean a defensive-minded guy like Eberflus won’t eventually get an opportunity.
Eberflus was originally brought to Indianapolis by Josh McDaniels, who bowed out of the Colts head coach job in 2018. Eberflus stayed on with Frank Reich, and the rest is history. One of the first things you notice about Eberflus is his success as a defensive coordinator, where he took a Colts defense that ranked 29th in 2017 and turned them into the 11th best defense in his first year.
Eberflus has been praised for his leadership style and being a detail-oriented coach. He’s someone who’s connected well with players and coaches, and is able to cater a defense’s strengths to fit his scheme.
Connections: Poles and Eberflus are connected via mutual friends, and he’s also someone that Bill Polian, who was part of the initial hiring process, is said to be high on. According to Gabe Gabriel, Poles and Eberflus also share the same agent, which is certainly interesting.
Potential fit: Eberflus is the only potential first-time head coach between the three finalists, so it says a lot that he’s garnered recognition. Still, he’s been praised as a strong leader and has had a couple of stops along the way, which could help in assembling a coaching staff. The big thing for Eberflus is presenting a plan for develop Justin Fields and the offense.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Relevant Experience: Lions head coach (2014-17); Colts head coach (2009-11)
Analysis: Caldwell has been out of coaching since 2019, but he remains highly respected among league circles. He found success as a head coach on two separate occasions with the Colts (2009-11) and Lions (2014-17), and he’s someone who certainly knows how to lead a locker room and a winning culture. Caldwell had a winning season in three out of four years with the Lions, which is an accomplishment in itself. He’s also made the playoffs in four of the seven seasons as a head coach.
Caldwell has a solid track record with quarterbacks having worked with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis during his prime and coached Matthew Stafford during his best years in Detroit. Caldwell might not be a young, up-and-coming offensive mind, but that doesn’t mean he’s not the right guy for one of these coaching vacancies.
While Caldwell boasts a lot of positives, he’s also 67 years old, and he’s not a long-term solution at head coach. Still, if the Bears are looking to build a contender over the next few years, Caldwell could help get them there.
Connections: There’s no immediate connection between Poles and Caldwell, but Caldwell is respected throughout the league. There is a connection between Caldwell and Polian, which is probably a big reason he got consideration.
Potential fit: Caldwell is the only offensive mind on this list, which makes him an intriguing option as developing Fields is a top priority. He also has served as a head coach on two other occasions with the Colts and Lions. The fact that he led Detroit to two playoff appearances speaks volumes. Not to mention, Matthew Stafford had his best Lions playing days under Caldwell. But he’s not a long-term answer at 67.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Relevant Experience: Cowboys defensive coordinator (2021-Present); Falcons head coach (2015-20); Seahawks defensive coordinator (2013-14)
Analysis: Quinn has arguably the most impressive resume among head coaching candidates, which is why he’s a hot candidate this cycle. Quinn has extensive experience ranging from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator to head coach at both the NFL and college levels.
Quinn has prior head coaching experience during his six years with the Falcons, where he led Atlanta to a 43-42 record including a Super Bowl appearance in 2016. Obviously blowing a 28-3 lead to the Patriots in the that Super Bowl is one of his biggest blunders, but his defensive resume extends beyond that. Quinn served as defensive coordinator for the Seahawks during a 2013 season where Seattle’s defense rivaled the legendary 1985 Bears defense.
After Quinn was fired in 2020, it didn’t take long for the Cowboys to scoop Quinn up as their defensive coordinator. The result was an impressive defensive performance in 2021, where Dallas ranked No. 1 in defensive DVOA and had a league-best 34 takeaways. Now, Quinn is poised to get another opportunity to serve as head coach, where he’ll also be a valuable asset as a defensive mind.
Connections: Poles is said to be very high on Quinn. There’s an obvious connection between Poles and best friend and Boston College alum Matt Ryan, who played for Quinn in Atlanta. There have been talks that indicated Quinn was at the top of Poles’ list.
Potential fit: Quinn appears to be the best option on the market for the Bears. He has previous head coaching experience, which he’s believed to have learned from, and is considered a great leader. Quinn also has connections around the league that can help him fill out an impressive coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball that will help Fields flourish.