Being a great head coach isn’t just about what you know. It’s also about who you know. Connections are one of the most vital facets to building the best possible staff a coach can. Rest assured all the Chicago Bears coaching candidates will be required to put forth options on who they could bring in if and when they were handed the job.
So out of who they have interviewed and will interview in the coming days, what some prominent names that can be called in by each candidate? People might be surprised by a few of them. Here they are in no particular order.
Josh McDaniels (OC, New England Patriots)
Mike McCoy – As a head coach and offensive coordinator McCoy produced a top 15 offense six times. Together with McDaniels in Denver in 2010 they produced the 7th-ranked passing attack in the league with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow at quarterback.
Mike Nolan – A well-traveled and experienced defensive coach. He’s produced a top 10 defense six times as a coordinator for four different teams. One of them was the Broncos in 2009 under McDaniels. The two didn’t part on great terms, but a lot of time has passed.
Ed Donatell – If the Bears are anxious to keep their secondary coach in place, and given how the unit played in 2017 they should, then McDaniels is the guy to hire. He worked with Donatell for two years in Denver. They know each other well.
John DeFilippo (QBC, Philadelphia Eagles)
Vic Fangio – That’s right. Believe or not DeFilippo knows Fangio personally. The two worked together for a season back in the 1990s when the young coach was an intern for the Carolina Panthers. Fangio was defensive coordinator for them at the time.
Mike Pettine – It’s surprising that Pettine hasn’t had a coordinator job in 2017 considering he’s had a top 10 defense every year he’s held that position in New York and Buffalo. Pettine made DeFilippo his offensive coordinator for a year with Cleveland in 2017.
John Pagano – He has plenty of experience as a defensive coordinator, much of it successful. However, Pagano is a maestro at coaching pass rushers. Shawn Merriman? Shaun Phillips? Melvin Ingram? Joey Bosa? All were developed by him.
Greg Knapp – This man has quietly been one of the best quarterbacks coaches in the NFL for a long time. He helped Jeff Garcia become a Pro Bowler in San Francisco, got two out of Michael Vick in Atlanta, and held the job when Peyton Manning set records in 2013.
Matt Nagy (OC, Kansas City Chiefs)
Brad Childress – Nagy has worked with Childress in Kansas City since 2013. Most remember Childress for his decent run as head coach in Minnesota when they reached the NFC championship, but he’s also an able offensive mind with years of experience.
Brian Stewart – It’s surprising that the NFL has forgotten about this guy so quickly. Stewart got his brief shot at the spotlight as the Cowboys defensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008. They ranked 8th and 9th respectively those years. They’ve gone top 10 just twice since.
Doug Plank – Ready to dig real deep? Believe it or not former Bears great Doug Plank became a successful coach in the Arena Football League. That’s where Nagy met him. He also had brief but productive runs as an assistant in Atlanta and New York.
Pat Shurmur (OC, Minnesota Vikings)
Bill Musgrave – No doubt the Raiders know they made a mistake letting Musgrave leave. Derek Carr hasn’t been the same since he left. Musgrave is a top quality QB specialist and experienced offensive coordinator that Shurmur knows well from their time in Philadelphia.
Steve Spagnuolo – His reputation as a defensive coordinator remains productive despite an ugly run as a head coach. Spagnuolo did great work with the Giants defense in 2016 and won a Super Bowl at the job in 2007. Shurmur knows him well as a fellow Eagles assistant.
Kirby Wilson – Shurmur is already a QB guru in his own right. What he’ll need is somebody who will know how to get the most from a potent Bears backfield of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Kirby Wilson has two rings to back up his qualifications toward this mission.
George Edwards (DC, Minnesota Vikings)
Joe Philbin – Aaron Rodgers won his ring and had his career-best season both during the time that Philbin was Packers offensive coordinator. Edwards and he connected in Miami for a couple years during which they had some modest, if unfulfilled success.
Dom Capers – Another former Packers assistant that Edwards knows well and worked with in Miami. Capers is one of the top defensive coordinators in the league. He’s had a top 10 unit eight times with five different teams. He’s 67 though, so one must be cautious.
Kacy Rodgers – Currently the defensive coordinator with the Jets, Rodgers is a defensive line mastermind who enjoyed fruitful runs in Miami and Dallas prior to his arrival. Imagine what he could do with Hicks, Goldman and that young group in Chicago.
Vic Fangio (DC, Chicago Bears)
Greg Roman – Fangio and Roman produced three NFC championship and one Super Bowl appearance in San Francisco. Roman got productive years out of Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick while also consistently producing a top five rushing attack.
Chuck Pagano – Before becoming head coach in Indianapolis, Pagano had a brief but great run as defensive coordinator in Baltimore. His unit ranked 3rd in the league in 2011. He and Fangio worked together for a few years there before Fangio left for Stanford.
Eric Mangini – He gets a lot of flak for some of his failed exploits as a head coach but Mangini has proven himself a quality assistant in the past. He has both offensive and defensive experience and isn’t even 50-years old yet.