The Bears fired offensive coordinator Luke Getsy on Wednesday after completing exit interviews with their players. The decision wasn’t surprising, and probably won’t signal a change at quarterback. That said, GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus have a plethora of options at their disposal.
Where does the NFL’s oldest franchise go next? There are several intriguing names available, including those with ties to Poles, Eberflus, or both. Both men will start their third year with the organization but may have to convince the better candidates of their staying power beyond 2024.
The decision generally rests with the head coach in these types of situations, but expect Poles and team president Kevin Warren to weigh in as well. It’s both sad and condemning that that type of synergy is unchartered territory for an organization that has struggled with continuity since Lovie Smith was fired in 2012. The Bears are also frustratingly frugal when it comes to paying coaches. That could keep the best candidates from seeking the open opportunity.
“When you talk about building a team, I want that kind of support in the locker room.”
Ryan Poles on the support Justin Fields has within the locker room. pic.twitter.com/h84gwdFnXW
— Marquee Bears (@BearsMarquee) January 10, 2024
Aside from monetary negotiations, Justin Fields will ultimately be the hot topic among the interviewees. Warren, Poles, and Eberflus would be best served to gather opinions from each candidate when deciding the third-year quarterback’s future with the team. Do they hire the coordinator that fits best with the intended scheme, or one that can bring out the best in Fields? Hopefully, a potential hire exists that can meet both expectations.
If Poles keeps the No. 1 overall pick, he’d have his choice of any incoming quarterback. The best path forward, however, is keeping Fields and trading the top pick for a windfall of 2024 and ’25 selections, and then surrounding Fields with weapons that will facilitate his development individually and within the concept of the new offense. Chicago’s defense is ready to compete for NFC North titles but its offense has some catching up to do.
With that in mind, here are six candidates and a wild card who can help close the gap between defense and offense. I’ll drop a movie quote that best describes each candidate, too.
“I thought I was supposed to be getting a change of scenery. But so far I’ve been in a train and a room, a car and a room, and a room and a room.” – Wilfrid Brambill as Paul McCartney’s grandfather in A Hard Day’s Night
Moore is a rising star but remains employed by the Chargers, who fired head coach Brandon Staley in December. He’s only 35 years old but is probably on the shortlist of replacements for Staley. He’s worked with Justin Herbert in Los Angeles and with Dak Prescott in Dallas before that. He coordinated the NFL’s top offenses in yards with the Cowboys in 2019 and 2021. The ’21 Cowboys also lead the league in scoring.
Moore, who went to Boise State before working as a backup signal caller with the Lions and Cowboys, is widely considered the best coordinator available. He’s an excellent playcaller but could end up with one of the vacant head coaching positions. The Panthers interviewed Moore last year, and he was under consideration for jobs with the Jaguars, Broncos, Vikings, and Dolphins in 2022. The Chargers interviewed him for their opening on Tuesday. The good news is that he wasn’t hired. He’s more likely to get a head coaching job somewhere than to work as a coordinator, however.
“Ned Ryerson! ‘Needlenose Ned’? ‘Ned the Head’? Come on, buddy, Case Western High! Ned Ryerson! I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show. Bing! Ned Ryerson! Got the shingles real bad senior year, and almost didn’t graduate. Bing again! Ned Ryerson! I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple of times until you told me not to anymore. Well?” – Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day
If anybody deserves a head coaching job it’s Bieniemy. Most analysts believed he was in line to eventually replace Andy Reid with the Chiefs, but he bolted to call plays for the Commanders this season while running their offense. Poles knows Bieniemy well. Their history spans nine seasons with the Chiefs.
Still, a top gig continues to elude the 54-year-old, and I have no idea why. He’s also not considered a top candidate for any of the current or expected openings. That bodes well for the Bears. Poles would theoretically have an in-house replacement for Eberflus if he has to make a head coaching change going into 2025. That might make the current title holder a little too uncomfortable, however.
“You want me on that wall. You NEED me on that wall.” – Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessep in A Few Good Men
Caldwell was one of three finalists to replace Matt Nagy two years ago. The list of quarterbacks he’s worked with includes Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Joe Flacco, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. He worked with Bryce Young and was the only coordinator retained by the Panthers after Frank Reich and his staff were dismissed. Fields would almost certainly be retained if Poles and Eberflus hire Caldwell. Young didn’t have the year most experts anticipated, but Caldwell is hardly the fault for that. He does prefer to work with veterans though.
“How can a train be lost? It’s on rails.” – Jason Schwartzman as Jack in The Darjeeling Limited
Eberflus prefers a strong rushing attack to an electric passing offense, so Brown is a perfect fit. Eberflus also prefers to use the run to open up the passing attack, which is why Getsy was hired initially. Brown’s resume includes years of experience as a running backs coach at the collegiate level. That said, he did have a stint as the University of Miami’s offensive coordinator.
Brown is an extension of the Kyle Shannahan/Sean McVay tree and is reportedly well-liked by his players. He was McVay’s assistant coach in 2021-22 while also coaching the Rams’ backs and tight ends. He’s arguably the best fit for Chicago’s offense under Eberflus. It’s doubtful, however, that Chicago’s front office would trust Fields or a rookie quarterback with another inexperienced playcaller. Then again, Brown would come cheap and this is the Bears we’re talking about.
“Wait ’til they get a load of me.” – Nicholson as The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989)
Bevell is one of two candidates I’d prefer to join the Bears. He was nearly named Chicago’s head coach in 2013, though then-GM Phil Emery preferred Marc Trestman. Bevell was Seattle’s OC when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl that season. His career spans six teams, and he’s had Johnson, Stafford, Brett Favre, Russell Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, and Tua Tagovailoa (this year and last) under his tutelage. The Dolphins had the league’s best passing offense this season and finished second in scoring.
My, what could have been?
“People call these things imperfections, but they’re not.” – Robin Williams as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting
Roman is the other candidate I’d prefer to come to Chicago. Like Brown, his strengths lie in developing a strong running game. He’s produced top-five rushing offenses in every season but one in which he’s been an offensive coordinator. Roman’s also had great success working with dual-threat quarterbacks, including Colin Kaepernick, Tyrod Taylor, and Lamar Jackson. He’s additionally helped develop pocket passers, including Andrew Luck and Alex Smith. Though he took this year off, Roman’s record with the Ravens with Jackson as his quarterback is 45-16.
Roman prefers to play to the strengths of his quarterback, an area where Getsy failed miserably.
“If you have a quarterback with certain skills, you’ve got to tap into their skills,” Roman said last year. “You’ve got to mine for gold there and have convictions. When you’re doing something different, half the fans aren’t going to understand it because that’s not [where they’re comfortable]. You know that going in, but you’ve got to have the strength of conviction and courage to forge ahead with it.
“The elite pocket passer will always be valued. At some point, you’ve got to stand in the pocket, throw the ball, and deliver it to win consistently. How much you have to do that will change, but there’s no doubt the opportunity exists for mobile quarterbacks because NFL decision-makers have seen it work.”
The Wild Card – Mike LaFleur
“I just want you to know I hate you, and so does Dad.” – John C. Reilly as Dale Doback in Step Brothers
LaFleur is the younger brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, who is 10-0 against the Bears in five seasons. He’s also a direct extension of the Shanahan/Mcvay tree and probably knows what it takes to beat Green Bay better than anybody. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with a little sibling rivalry.