Chicago Bears GM is on the precipice of the biggest decision of his life. All signs point to him being safe for another year. Such is not the case for head coach John Fox. His inability to develop and elevate the roster to this point has lost him all credibility. Signs point to him being shown the door in January, quite possibly with the worst record for a coach in Bears history. At that point Pace will be under the microscope.

His first head coaching hire was a total disaster. So plenty are skeptical on whether he can get a second one right. In order to do so he’ll exhaustively research every possible candidate. It can’t be about preferred backgrounds either. Yes an offensive guy could theoretically help Mitch Trubisky, but tell that to Marc Trestman and Ben McAdoo.

He has to get the best possible football coach he can find. Somebody who shares his philosophies and can form a strong working relationship with. Plenty of names have already been thrown around. However, according to former Bears scout Greg Gabriel there is one key factor that will likely drive the hiring process.

Ryan Pace likely to stick close to his connections this time

One thing about Fox that was clear from the start was he had no prior connections to Pace. They’d never worked together. Granted Fox had gone against Pace’s New Orleans Saints several time as coach of the Carolina Panthers. Still that feeling of respect didn’t compare to actually working close with the man.

This time around the GM may prefer to make that second part a requirement.

“If there‚Äôs to be a search this year, Pace will be much more involved. You can bet that not only will he be looking for a top candidate but he may also gravitate toward people he has already has a relationship with. Being that his only other NFL experience was with the New Orleans, two of his coaching candidates could well come from the Saint in the form of defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.

Being comfortable with the head coach is one of the more important parts of the selection process. The Bears may soon be experiencing that first-hand once again.”

It’s plenty understandable that Pace would do this. He isn’t the first GM in NFL history to consider that idea. Jerry Angelo had worked with Lovie Smith for five season in Tampa Bay. It was no coincidence they reunited in Chicago. It’s hard to argue with the results either. The two were in sync from the beginning and got the Bears to a Super Bowl. Maybe this is the best route for Pace to take.

His options appear limited, but are they?

Carmichael and Allen though? Nobody would call that pair the strongest choices. Of course appearances are deceiving. Carmichael has overseen the Saints offense since 2009, during which its had record-breaking success. Allen has helped engineer a stunning turnaround for the defense in 2017, making New Orleans a major threat in the NFC once again. So what’s the problem?

Word is Carmichael isn’t the most vocal of coaches. Though he’s a great teacher he is somewhat soft-spoken. Not entirely ideal for the mantle of head coach. As for Allen, it’s hard to forget his disastrous run as head coach in Oakland. During which he went 8-28. So if those are the choices, it’s hard to be excited about them.

Are they the only choices though?

As it turns out they aren’t. One intriguing name that briefly brushed past Pace back in 2006 was John Morton. He was offensive assistant that year. Since then he enjoyed as a wide receivers coach at USC, San Francisco and then returned to New Orleans again for that same job in 2015. This year he was plucked by the Jets to become their offensive coordinator and despite considerable talent questions? He’s had some remarkable success.

Four games still remain before the Bears can begin their search proper. Time will tell on what plans Pace has in mind.