The NFL is like any other business. In order to have success, a company has to be willing to take a risk. Sometimes it will blow up in their face, but sometimes it will open the doors to endless possibilities. This is the case for the Chicago Bears as they look towards 2018. John Fox was anything but a risk when they hired him three years ago. He was experienced, proven and looked like a sure thing. Problem is all commodities have an expiration date.
It seems the Bears got the spoiled version of Fox. Now their search for a replacement is set to begin. The problem is the pressure is enormous. This is not a hire they can afford to get wrong. In such situations it can lead a GM to go the route of the familiar, leaning towards somebody he knows well. In the case of Ryan Pace that means either Pete Carmichael or Dennis Allen. Neither of which can be considered favorable candidates.
At the same time there are certain men who know this is their last shot, so why not take a gamble and go for it all? Make an inspired pick that is high risk but even higher reward. If this is the way the Bears might be thinking come January, then there is definitely one coach who fits that profile.
Lane Kiffin is the outlaw of football coaches and may free the Chicago Bears
Mention the name Lane Kiffin to a common football fan and the odds are you’ll get a mixed reaction. There are plenty of people who really despise the man. He has a reputation for being quite antagonistic. He accused fellow coach Urban Meyer of recruit tampering while he was at Tennessee. Before that he was fired after just over a season as Oakland Raiders head coach by late owner Al Davis, who called him a “flat-out liar.”
He reportedly warned Alshon Jeffery he’d be pumping gas the rest of his life if he went to South Carolina rather than Tennessee. Then he dumped Tennessee after just one season to take the job at USC. So all in all he’s not the most beloved person around the football landscape. In fact some people, including other coaches have threatened to fight him. So why then would the Bears want to go anywhere near this guy?
The answer is simple. He’s a master when it comes to quarterbacks.
Kiffin has a long reputation of making something out of nothing
Anybody can have success as a coach when a Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning is inherited. Often the best way to tell the difference between good and bad coaches is how they do with average quarterbacks. Kiffin has become a savant at this enterprise. It started from the first time he became offensive coordinator at USC back in 2005.
That year he got the highest completion percentage and most yards Matt Leinart would have in his Hall of Fame college career. The next season he got 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions from John David Booty. After his tumultuous lone season in Oakland, Kiffin spent a year as head coach in Tennessee where Jonathan Crompton, who had six TD passes total his previous three seasons, threw 27 with Kiffin in charge.
That was when he headed back to USC where he became head coach. Under his guidance quarterback Matt Barkley would set school records with 12,327 passing yards and 116 touchdowns.
Kiffin has also learned under some outstanding coaches
Part of becoming a good head coach is learning from those who already are. Kiffin got his first big lessons from Pete Carroll as an assistant at USC. Years later after he left Southern California, he was made offensive coordinator at Alabama, getting a chance to learn under Nick Saban. During that time Kiffin really began to showcase his prowess as a play caller. He was so good at times that he actually predicted touchdowns before certain calls even developed on the field.
With his help the Crimson Tide won the national championship in 2015, mostly thanks to his offense which put up 45 points on Clemson that day. A year later after another successful season, Kiffin left right before another national title game to become head coach at Florida Atlantic University.
It became clear right away the man had used his lessons wisely. FAU went from 3-9 the year prior to 10-3 this year under him. It’s the first winning record the Owls have had in 10 years and the best record they’ve ever had since moving to Division-I A in 2004. Amazingly it wasn’t the quarterback play that led the way. It was the running game as they piled up over 3,700 yards on the ground in 13 games. So he’s certainly not a one-trick pony.
Kiffin is a gamble but could also be the answer for Trubisky
There are so many ways hiring Lane Kiffin could go wrong for the Bears. He has a reputation for being brash and a little off-putting. He also hasn’t held down a job for longer than four years in over a decade. At the same time there is so much that could go right with it. Kiffin is only 41-years old. He’s an offensive wizard who specializes in quarterbacks. He’s also been mentored by two of the best coaches since the dawn of the new millennium.
Imagine what he might be able to accomplish with Mitch Trubisky as his quarterback. He’d easily be the most talented player at the position Kiffin has had the chance to coach. It could be a match made in football heaven. The question is would Pace be willing to bet his job on it?