Sense of urgency surrounds Bears GM search

  • While the Bears search for a new general manager, they are scheduled to simultaneously interview head coaching candidate Mike Shanahan on Saturday.

    While the Bears search for a new general manager, they are scheduled to simultaneously interview head coaching candidate Mike Shanahan on Saturday. Associated Press

Updated 1/6/2015 9:08 PM

When George McCaskey and Ted Phillips announced the firing of general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman more than a week ago, they insisted there was not a timetable.

"We will act quickly if necessary to get the people we want," McCaskey said, "and we are prepared to wait if necessary to get the people we want."


But nine days deep, the search has taken on a greater sense of urgency. It appears now as if a decision on the general manger will come before the end of the week.

The Bears interviewed Lake Dawson (Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel) on Tuesday and Brian Gaine (Houston Texans director of pro personnel).

Chris Ballard (Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel) interviews Wednesday and is still considered the favorite to return to Halas Hall where he spent 11 years as a scout and 2012 as the Bears' director of pro scouting.

The Bears have also expressed interest in talking to Ryan Pace (Saints director of player personnel), but his preference may be to remain in New Orleans.

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The Bears are anxious to have their new GM in place when scheduled head-coaching interviews with Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and former Washington, Denver and Oakland head coach Mike Shanahan take place Saturday.

Shanahan, a Franklin Park native and East Leyden High School and Eastern Illinois University graduate, has already interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills.

When Shanahan was the Denver Broncos' head coach, he was instrumental in making Jay Cutler their first-round pick in 2006, and Cutler made his only Pro Bowl in his final season with Shanahan in 2008. But Shanahan's Broncos were just 17-20 with Cutler starting.

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was drafted by the Broncos the same year as Cutler but two rounds later.

The hiring of Shanahan could be seen as the tail continuing to wag the dog at Halas Hall, given that it would be yet another attempt to find a coach who can tap the vast potential that many -- including Shanahan -- seem to believe Cutler possesses.


Of all the head-coaching candidates with previous head-coaching experience in play this year, Shanahan has by far the most impressive resume.

However, with one year and $7 million left on his five-year $35 million contract, Shanahan was fired by Washington owner Daniel Snyder after the 2013 team went 3-13, leaving him with a 24-40 record.

But he led the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins after the 1997 and '98 seasons and in 14 seasons, his Denver teams won 138 games. He has a career record of 170-138 (56.2 winning percentage) in addition to an 8-6 mark in the postseason.

A life-threatening lacerated kidney injury ended Shanahan's playing career after two years at EIU but it started his coaching career. His first NFL head-coaching job came with the Raiders when he was just 36.

Bowles, 51, has led the Cardinals' defense for the past two seasons. The Cards' were fifth this year in fewest points allowed, permitting an average of 18.7 per game, and 10th in interception percentage, but did not finish in the top 10 in any other significant defensive category.

Last season the Cardinals were No. 7 in the NFL in points allowed (20.3), No. 6 fewest yards allowed (317.4 per game), No. 4 in yards per play, No. 1 in rushing yards (84.4 per game), No. 2 in average gain per rushing play and No. 6 in average gain allowed per pass play.

After eight years as an NFL safety, Bowles began his coaching career in 2000 as a defensive backs coach for one year with the New York Jets, four years with the Cleveland Browns, three years with the Dallas Cowboys (2005-07) and four years with the Miami Dolphins (2008-11).

In his final year in Miami, Bowles took over as the interim head coach when Tony Sparano was fired late in the season and had a 2-1 record.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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