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updated: 1/1/2013 8:26 PM

Bears GM should be looking for next great coach

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  • Bears general manager Phil Emery takes questions from the media the day after he dismissed coach Lovie Smith.

      Bears general manager Phil Emery takes questions from the media the day after he dismissed coach Lovie Smith.
    Associated Press

 
 

The firing is uncomplicated and the hiring oh so very complicated.

Before the Bears dumped Lovie Smith as head coach he was in the middle of NFL coaches.

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Some were worse and some were better, and some of the candidates to replace Smith will be worse and some will be better.

The problem is identifying which are which.

Phil Emery indicated Tuesday that he won't restrict the search to any particular category.

"We are working through a wide variety of people," the Bears general manager said. "No one has been excluded. It's an open process."

That's a positive, even though Bears fans are clamoring specifically for an experienced NFL head coach, preferably from the offensive side of the ball.

Enough of them are out there, for sure. Some like Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren and Brian Billick have won a Super Bowl.

But not even those formerly successful head coaches are certainties for success. Bill Cowher isn't either. The Bears would be a different team in a different time for them.

After years of longing for the Bears to finally go for experience, now I'm not so sure that this hire has to be a veteran NFL head coach or an NFL coordinator or an offensive-minded guy or a college guy or a minority guy or a guy who previously worked under successful guys.

He just has to be the right guy.

The biggest thing is for the Bears to bring in a full-service head coach with an extensive history of offense, defense or special teams but a working knowledge of all three phases.

Why not try to identify the next Gruden, the next Cowher, more than anything the next Bill Belichick?

Perhaps the fit is Kyle Shanahan, Mike's son and offensive coordinator in Washington. Perhaps it's Jay Gruden, Jon's brother and offensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

How many older coaches have won a Super Bowl with two different teams? It appears to be harder to do that than for a younger coach to win one with his first team.

Myriad first-time NFL head coaches -- including Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton -- have won a Super Bowl.

Belichick did fail in his first try with the Browns. Then, however, he became the model for modern NFL coaches with the Patriots, as revealed the first time he took the Pats to the Super Bowl.

A raw Tom Brady replaced injured Drew Bledsoe at quarterback in New England. Belichick, whose specialty is defense, went over to the Patriots' offense to accelerate the youngster's development.

Can you imagine Lovie Smith being able to do that? Me neither. But in his defense, not many head coaches could do what Belichick did on the way to winning the Super Bowl that season.

Emery's assignment is to find a football coach, not a defensive coach or an offensive coach or a special-teams coach but an all-of-the-above coach.

If the guy has experience, fine. If he doesn't, fine. Either way is fine as long as he has the all-around instincts that make for an outstanding head coach.

Seriously, all the Bears need is a full-service coach regardless of where he comes from and what his primary expertise is.

Emery said, "I'm looking for a head coach that can take all the unique talents (our players) have and bring them together toward winning championships."

Discovering him will be more difficult than dispatching Lovie Smith was.

Phil Emery has to prove he's up to the task.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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