With Lovie out, who are the best choices in Phil Emery’s “fast” and “furious” search for a head coach? I’ve identified the top 5 choices for Chicago, in order.
1. Bruce Arians, OC, Indianapolis Colts
There’s a reason the Colts have said they desperately want Arians to remain in their organization. In Chuck Pagano’s stead, Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record (they finished 11-5 overall). It was the best record an NFL interim head coach has ever recorded, and it was posted one year after a 2 win campaign. Their +9 win differential from last season was enough to get Indy back in the playoffs. Without Arians calling plays (due to sickness), the Colts lost to the Ravens in the Wild Card round. Arians is a former quarterback who has now worked as a mentor to both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. With a rookie QB, Indianapolis finished 7th overall in the NFL in passing yards. They ranked 22nd in rushing yards with Donald Brown and Vick Ballard – imagine what he could do with Matt Forte and Michael Bush. Arians has what it takes to win now.
2. Pete Carmichael Jr., OC, New Orleans Saints
Carmichael is another case of an offensive coordinator who took on extra responsibilities this past season. With Sean Payton’s suspension in 2012, Carmichael took over play-calling duties in New Orleans. The Saints missed the playoffs, but their offense averaged the second most yards per game in the NFL. Carmichael worked with Drew Brees, a potential Hall of Famer, for almost his entire career in San Diego and New Orleans. Carmichael could install an explosive offense in Chicago with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall.
3. Rick Dennison, OC, Houston Texans
Dennison is an obvious choice for the Bears’ head coaching position because of his previous ties to Cutler and Marshall (OC in Denver, 2006-08). His work in Houston with Gary Kubiak helped the Texans make the playoffs two years in a row, Houston’s only postseason appearances ever. Under Dennison, Arian Foster led the NFL in rushing in 2010 and became a Pro Bowler three straight years. The reason Dennison is lower than Carmichael is due to inconsistency. Matt Schaub and the offense have sputtered at times (the past three weeks are the most recent example), which has kept them from being as consistently dominant as the Saints have been for years.
4. Dave Toub, ST, Chicago Bears
Special teams coordinators make great head coaches – just ask Mike Ditka. Toub has been the best special teams coach in the NFL for years. Robbie Gould, Devin Hester, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Corey Graham all made Pro Bowls under Toub’s tutelage. It would make sense for the Bears to promote someone from inside the ranks for the sake of continuity, and Toub is a viable option. He interviewed for the Miami Dolphins’ head coaching position last year but ended up staying in Chicago. Why not see if Toub can keep up his success with the Bears, just at a higher level?
5. Marc Trestman, HC, Montreal Alouettes
When I first saw the Bears were interviewing a coach from the CFL, I thought it was a joke. Don’t laugh aboot it though – Trestman is for real. His experience ranges from position coach to head coach in the NCAA, CFL, and NFL. Trestman’s worked with Bernie Kosar (twice), Rich Gannon (twice), Steve Young, and Jake Plummer at various points in their careers. He also worked with CFL all-time great Anthony Calvillo to win two Grey Cups with Montreal. His great track record with QBs could carry over to Chicago. Trestman has already worked as a quarterback consultant for Jay Cutler in the past.