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Wednesday, August 10

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Bears Mon Dec 31 2012

Bears Fire Lovie; Emery Begins Coaching Search

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngFinishing 10-6 and failing to make the playoffs is the most unsatisfying end to a season filled with more questions than answers. It was just good enough to be in the upper-echelon of the NFL, but not good enough to be a serious Super Bowl contender.

It ultimately cost Lovie Smith his job. His defenses continued the Bears tradition of 'Monsters of the Midway,' but the talent and coordinators he employed offensively led to his ultimate demise. In his nine seasons in Chicago, the best output was 15th in the NFL in yards. It's not the stat of all stats, but over a long period of time, it doesn't really lie.

Did he deserve to go? That answer is questionable, but in Emery's eyes, it was a clear 'yes.' His defense has been in the top half in points per game in every season he's been in Chicago, and the takeaway totals during his tenure is mind boggling (310). Not very many coaches in the league have reached a Super Bowl and also made another Championship game, but in a league that is all about "what have you done for me lately," one playoff appearance in the last six years simply isn't good enough.

We could talk for days about what went wrong - but it'll only make us more upset. Phil Emery was never enamored with Smith (he was forced to keep him this year), and has already started putting in requests to interview candidates.

A guy that didn't get mentioned amongst the 15 names posted a couple weeks back and is already the hot name in Chicago is Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. He took that position the year after Jay Cutler left Denver, and has done a commendable job there the past few seasons. He led a Kyle Orton quarterbacked offense to a ranking in the top half of the NFL, designed a system around Tim Tebow that put the Broncos in the playoffs last year, and has the Broncos with a first round bye this season (admittedly, Peyton Manning does most of the work).

McCoy has consistently shown he will design an offense based around the personnel he's given, and that's exactly what the Bears have lacked in recent years. Sure, it's incredibly difficult to run an offense with a talentless line up front, but we can all agree the design this year was pretty poor.

Regardless of the name, it's nearly a guarantee the next coach will be offensive minded. With many of the defensive stalwarts for the Bears on the wrong side of 30, an offense centered around Cutler (for at least the next year), Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery is the future of the franchise.

Here's a quick list of the likely names that will most likely get a call:

Mike McCoy - Broncos offensive coordinator mentioned previously that the Bears have already requested an interview with (that they do this week due to the Broncos having a bye).

Brian Billick - Former Ravens head coach (with a ring), and brilliant offensive mind in Minnesota. He's familiar with Chicago media and commands respect from players.

Bill O'Brien - Current Penn State head coach that is a sleeper candidate, but probably won't leave there. He has a New England/Kansas City based connection with Emery, but that's as close as it is.

Kyle Shanahan - Current offensive coordinator in Washington who built an offense around Robert Griffin III. Bears would have to wait for the Redskins to get eliminated, and he may be the heir apparent to his father in DC.

Jim Caldwell - Finished the season as the offensive coordinator in Baltimore, but would (sadly) only get a call to satisfy the (horribly outdated) Rooney Rule.

The over-arching question is whether or not a new coach can do better than Smith? An offensive leaning coach will certainly make strides on that side of the football, but it's almost a guarantee the defense will suffer from the age-declines from Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, and Julius Peppers in the near future. We've also seen Brian Urlacher's last game as a Bear.

The focus is now entirely on Emery. It's his organization. He'll have his own coach, an above-average quarterback, and an aging roster nearly across the board. It's not a pristine situation, but it's far better than what the other 19 teams that didn't make the playoffs face heading into the offseason.

Ultimately, there are still more questions than answers.

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