Chicago Sun-Times

January 2013 Archives

NEW ORLEANS -- Former Bears coach Mike Ditka recalls a young, eager Geep Chryst, who was willing to do anything.

"We were up in Platteville," Ditka said Thursday. "He started out as a ball boy. Yeah, it was an opportunity. He was a hard-working guy. He wanted to know the game of football, he wanted to study the game of football, and you appreciate people like that."

That "ball boy" is now the San Francisco 49ers' quarterbacks coach. Chryst, who worked for the Bears from 1991-95 as their director of research/quality control, deserves credit for helping turn Alex Smith into an efficient and productive quarterback after looking like a bust and for the emergence of the blossoming star that is Colin Kaepernick.

"Geep has been great," said Kaepernick, who took over as the 49ers' starter after a concussion sidelined Smith. "He is always in our ear, talking, making sure we know every situation that might come up. He's previewing situations during the game. He has been phenomenal. It's a constant conversation. It's constant work, trying to game plan trying to make sure we have every detail ironed out."

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo remembers everything from the Bears' Super Bowl appearance in the 2006 season. He remembers the emotions before and after the loss against the Indianapolis Colts. And he remembers the thrill of Devin Hester's game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown.


In a way, Ayanbadejo, a Chicago native who spent three seasons with the Bears (2005-07), wants to win this year's Super Bowl for his former Bears teammates.

"It's all coming back," Ayanbadejo said. "I was in a restaurant the other day and they were having highlights from all the Super Bowls and then they had the '06 Super Bowl. I was sitting there talking, but while they showed the highlights from that Super Bowl, I had to stop everything and I just sat there and I just watched. I remembered how it felt to not be successful. I remembered how it felt to have the first kickoff return for a touchdown by the 'Windy City Flyer.'

"It was a myriad of emotions I was feeling, so to be back here [in the Super Bowl] and to be able to right that ship that went wrong in 2006, it would be an amazing experience. We're looking forward to doing that. But man, it's amazing to be back. It feels good to be back and all my Bears boys I have you in my heart. They're on my back right now. Part of my motivation to get that championship is them as well."

The Bears are still in the process of filling out their coaching staff, and by doing so, new Bears coach Marc Trestman continues to look at Canada.

Days after announcing his retirement via Twitter, former Bears safety Chris Harris didn't waste any time pursuing his next career.

Harris will become the Bears defensive quality control coach, according to a league source, serving as a link between the team's old defense and new defense. Chris Harris.jpg

Harris played under former Bears coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, but he also played under Mel Tucker, the team's new defensive coordinator.

Originally a sixth-round pick out of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Harris played 101 NFL games, including 88 starts. He finished his career with 16 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries.

Harris, 30, was traded from the Bears to the Carolina Panthers in 2007, but he returned in 2010. After his release in 2011, he spent time with the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played for Tucker.

After Tucker was hired by the Bears, Harris called him an "outstanding coach."

Asked why, Harris said, "He's a guy that understands how teams are trying to attack him.

"He believes in his system and doesn't panic when things aren't going to plan."

Pat Meyer Alouettes.jpgBears head coach Marc Trestman has hired Pat Meyer, his offensive coordinator with the Montreal Alouettes last season, as an assistant offensive line coach. Meyer is the third Alouettes assistant to join Trestman with the Bears, following Andy Bischoff (tight ends) and Michael Sinclair (assistant defensive line).

Meyer, who just completed his first season in the CFL, was the only coach Trestman hired in five seasons with the Alouettes whom he previously had worked with. Meyer was the strength and conditioning coordinator (2005-06) and offensive line coach (2006) at North Carolina State when Trestman was the Wolfpack's offensive coordinator under Chuck Amato in 2005-06.

Meyer also was a strength and conditioning coach at Florida State (2007) and offensive line coach (2008-11) and offensive coordinator (2010-11) at his alma mater, Colorado State.

Rusty Jones Bears strength coach.jpgBears general manager Phil Emery has to fill one more vacancy he may or may not have anticipated this offseason when Rusty Jones, the team's strength and conditioning coordinator for the past eight seasons, retired Saturday.

''After 28 years in the league, it was time for me,'' Jones told, the team's web site. ''I just feel ... it's time for me at this stage of my life to do other things and enjoy my family.''

Jones, 59, has a stellar reputation in 28 years in the NFL -- the first 20 with the Buffalo Bills, where he was credited with conditioning players to run the Bills' no-huddle offense in the 1990s under Marv Levy, when the Bills won four consecutive AFC championships. He was named the National Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year after the 2006 season, when the Bears reached the Super Bowl.

Jones was hired by the Bears in 2005, replacing Russ Riederer, who retired suddenly after a 2004 season in which the Bears were plagued by injuries. Brian Urlacher missed seven games with hamstring and leg injuries that season and the Bears lost all seven games.

Former Super Bowl champion head coach Brian Billick has an illustrious offensive background, and he even was in play on the coaching carousel this offseason.

But the NFL Network analyst was glowing in his assessment of the Bears to hire Marc Trestman. Billick.jpg

"Marc Trestman was a brilliant choice by the Chicago Bears," Billick said on NFL Network's "First on the Field." "Trestman has a certain intellect about him in the way that he coaches and the way he relates to players. That will resonate with Jay Cutler, and he will find a kindred spirit with Trestman."

Billick was the offensive coordinator of one of the great unit's in NFL history, the 1998 Minnesota Vikings. He then had a successful tenure as the Baltimore Ravens head coach, leading them to Super Bowl XXXV.

A colorful and outspoken analyst, Billick was interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles vacancy, which eventually went to Oregon's Chip Kelly.

Bears hiring Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator

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The Bears have tabbed Mel Tucker to become the team's defensive coordinator, according to three league sources.

The Bears are expected to formally announce the hire Friday evening.

Tucker had been the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator since 2009. Although the Jaguars unit was terrible last season, the defense was ranked 6th overall in 2011. Tucker has extensive college and pro coaching experience. Tucker.jpg

Tucker has run both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, and he's worked with the likes of Jack Del Rio and Nick Saban.

He served as the Jags interim head coach after Del Rio was fired, and he's interviewed for a handful of head coaching vacancies.

Former Bears and Jaguars safety Chris Harris called him an "outstanding coach."

Asked why, Harris said, "He's a guy that understands how teams are trying to attack him.

"He believes in his system and doesn't panic when things aren't going to plan."

The hire is a significant one since Tucker will essentially run the defense because new head coach Marc Trestman has an extensive offensive background.

New Bears head coach Marc Trestman knows he must move quickly when it comes to replacing defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

"There's a rush because in the NFL things move fast," Trestman said.

Candidates are starting to emerge.

It's believed Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, one of the few remaining holdovers from Lovie Smith's staff, met with Trestman on Friday and is a candidate.

League sources also told the Sun-Times that the Bears are interested in Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Mel Tucker as Marinelli's replacement.

Tucker has interviewed for the Jaguars' head coaching job twice and has been passed up each time. He is reportedly looking at other options.

"The bottom line is I would have hoped Rod would have stayed here," Trestman said. "We had a great conversation and again we've got mutual friends that we've worked with and know each and every one of us. I don't think that was an issue.

"But the NFL moves quickly, so we've got to do our due diligence. As I said in the meeting, one of the first points of interest is to put the staff together and that should basically tell you we've got our work to do and we want to get the best guy in here [for defensive coordinator]."

The only coaches who currently remain from Smith's tenure are Hoke, safeties coach Gill Byrd and defensive line coach Mike Phair.

Sean Jensen

marcphil.jpgThere are plenty of differences between the NFL and the Canadian Football League. In Canada, the field and end zones are bigger, there are 12 players on the field for each team, there is more motion allowed, there are only three downs and so on.

But new Bears head coach Marc Trestman, who coached the Montreal Alouettes to two Grey Cup titles in five seasons, doesn't think it will take him long to re-adjust to the NFL.

"I haven't been in the league for quite a while, but I was in it for 17 years, in a lot of different locker rooms with a lot of different players," Trestman said. "I went up to Canada. I found out that leading those men was no different. They were no different than the guys in the locker rooms down here: hard-working, and wanted coaches to help them get better at their job.

"Over the last few years, I spend each and every offseason down south of the border [in the United States]. The system of football we use [in the CFL] is very similar to what a lot of teams use in this league, and certainly I have identification and connections with coaches down here."

That said, it was Trestman's ability to adjust to the CFL that really impressed Bears general manager Phil Emery.

Montreal general manager Jim Popp, a finalist for the Indianapolis Colts' GM job last season and a candidate for GM openings this year, gave Trestman a chance and that's all he needed. It immediately turned into a success for the Alouettes, who already had a history of it..

The Alouettes, in many ways, are the New England Patriots of the CFL. Players want to play for them, but if they can't, they want to knock them off their perch.

The Alouettes are innovative and aggressive. Their coaches are in high demand around the CFL. Trestman has seen four assistants in Montreal leave to become either head coaches in the CFL or coordinators.

Trestman led the Alouettes to back-to-back Grey Cups in 2009 and 2010 and was named the CFL's Coach of the Year in 2009. Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo was named the CFL's MVP in 2008 and 2009. Trestman's regular-season record was 59-31 in five years.

Trestman's success in the CFL really resonated with Emery. Why?

Matt Cavanaugh with Bill Walsh.jpgNew Bears head coach Marc Trestman has hired former Bears offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh as his quarterbacks coach and Skip Peete as his running backs coach.

Cavanaugh, who was the New York Jets' quarterbacks coach the past four seasons, was the Bears' offensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt in 1997-98 when the Bears were in a constant state of flux at quarterback (Erik Kramer, Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno) and finished 17th (1997) and 21st (1998) in total offense.

Matt Cavanaugh with Tim Tebow.jpgAfter leaving the Bears, he became the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens (1999-2004) under Brian Billick and won the Super Bowl in 2000 with Trent Dilfer at quarterback. He was the offensive coordinator for Wannstedt at Pitt (2005-08) before joining the Jets. Under Cavanaugh's tutelage, Mark Sanchez became only the fifth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win 30 games (including the postseason) in his first three seasons -- with four road victories in the playoffs, tied for the second-most in NFL history.

Peete has been the Cowboys' running backs coach since 2007. He was a running backs coach with the Oakland Raiders from 1998-2006, overlapping with Trestman's three-year tenure as offensive coordinator from 2001-03 -- including the 2002 season when the Raiders won the AFC championship and played in the Super Bowl.

Bears part ways with Mike Tice

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The Bears have relieved offensive coordinator Mike Tice of his duties, according to a league source.

In fact, they fired the entire offensive staff: quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, running backs coach Tim Spencer, offensive line coach Tim Holt, receivers coach Darryl Drake and tight ends coach Mike DeBord.

On the defensive side of the ball, only linebackers coach Bob Babich was relieved of his duties.

On the team's official website, defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, assistant defensive backs coach (safeties) Gil Byrd and defensive line coach Mike Phair were still listed on the coaching staff, along with strength and conditioning coach Jim Arthur and strength and conditioning coordinator Rusty Jones.

The Bears also reportedly hired former Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete.

Initially hired as the team's offensive line coach in 2010, Tice was promoted to offensive coordinator after the ouster of Mike Martz during the 2012 offseason. But the Bears offense struggled in 2012, ranking 28th in total yards and 29th passing the ball. Tice.jpg

Although under contract through 2013, Tice's future was essentially set when the Bears immediately hired Aaron Kromer from the New Orleans Saints to serve as the offensive coordinator/ offensive line coach.

New Bears coach Marc Trestman tried to convince defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to remain on the staff but he elected to leave for a fresh start. Marinelli, who was a close friend of former Bears coach Lovie Smith, is expected to become the Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach. Monte Kiffin, another of Marinelli's friends, recently was named the defensive coordinator there.

Trestman started meeting with other Bears assistants still under contract today after his introductory press conference.

Five days before he was officially the Bears coach, Marc Trestman was congratulated by one of his former bosses, Jimmy Johnson.

The outspoken and colorful coach, now a Fox analyst, posted on his Twitter account: "Looks like [two] of my guys getting NFL jobs... Chud Cleveland and my QB coach at U Trestman to Chicago." J Johnson.jpg

Johnson was half right; Rob Chudzinski had just been named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. But Trestman had only conducted a first interview with the Bears, and Bears general manager Phil Emery made clear that he wasn't his choice until late Tuesday night.

So how did Trestman feel?

"What I did with that was really take adversity and turn it into success," he said.

He noted their last conversation was over 10 years ago.

"So it was surprising for me to see it," Trestman said of Johnson's Twitter post. "If it would have been 20 years ago, I would have shook my head and thought that this was something bad that would happen. But it was out of my control."

But Trestman said he tracked down Johnson's cell number and texted him and saying, "I really appreciate that you would think of me [as being one of his "guys") because I had no connection with him for so long."

Trestman said his message got him an invitation to Florida to reconnect with Johnson and have a cup of coffeee or a Heineken."

Rod Marinelli presided over the No. 1 defense, according to Troy Aikman's Efficiency Rating.

So the now former Bears defensive coordinator is drawing plenty of interest. But he'll likely make a decision quickly, and he's expected to land in Dallas as the team's defensive line coach, a source said.

Why the demotion?

Marinelli doesn't care about titles. Instead, his focus is more on friendship and being around those he cares about and those who care about him. That's why, despite his affinity for Bears players, he simply couldn't remain with a club that fired one of his dearest friends, Lovie Smith, who gave him a job after the debacle in Detroit as the Lions head coach.

Marinelli started with the Bears as a defensive line and assistant head coach, then he worked his way up to defensive coordinator.

Now, he's likely headed to Dallas, where Monte Kiffin -- who he worked with in Tampa -- recently accepted a job as the defensive coordinator. The two are close, and Marinelli will have plenty of input, even though he won't have the title.

trestman_jan17.JPG Jim Prisching//AP Photo

Here's full audio of today's Bears press conference at which Marc Trestman was introduced as the new head coach of the Chicago Bears.

As he assembles a new coaching staff, new Bears coach Marc Trestman said he'll be bringing some friends with him to Chicago from Montreal

"There will be some guys coming down south," Trestman said during his introductory press conference Thursday at Halas Hall.

Candidates are already starting to emerge.

A league source said that Pat Meyer, the Alouettes' offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, was offered a position by the Bears. The source said also that Andy Bischoff, the Alouettes' special teams coordinator/running backs coach/administrative assistant to the head coach, is a candidate.

Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich is another coach to watch, according to the source. He was Trestman's offensive coordinator in Montreal before leaving for Toronto.

Live-blog: Bears press conference

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Watch the press conference LIVE here.

Mark Potash, Adam Jahns, and Sean Jensen live-tweet the Bears press conference regarding the hiring of coach Marc Trestman.

I had the chance to speak to Charles-Andre Marchand. He's the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Montreal Alouettes, calling games in French on 98.5 FM in Montreal.

Marchand shared good stories about new Bears coach Marc Trestman. Here are some of the highlights and anecdotes:

Marc Trestman drinks from the cup.jpgWhen Marc Trestman was introduced as the Montreal Alouettes' head coach in 2007, he set a record for ''winning the press conference'' by literally speaking their language with the first words out of his mouth: ''Je m'appelle Marc Trestman,'' he said. For the record, that's "I'm Marc Trestman'' in French.

Odds are that the articulate, erudite and chronically civil Trestman will win the press conference today when he is introduced as the Bears' head coach at 11 a.m. at the Halas Hall auditorium. But no matter what he says or how he says it, if the Rod Marinelli situation isn't settled by the time he steps up to the lectern, winning the press conference might not mean that much.

Trestman has to get the coordinators right. If he doesn't hire Marinelli, then Plan B should already be set in motion by the time he speaks to the media today. His 17 years as an NFL assistant have prepared him to handle the Jay Cutler part of the Bears' equation. But today, it's the five years as head coach of the Alouettes' that figure most prominently. How well can he evaluate coaches? How quickly and decisively can he act to find the right guy?

Marc Trestman with trophy.jpgMontreal Alouettes wide receiver Brandon London has played for Marc Trestman and Tom Coughlin. What's the difference?

Not much, he said.

''Coach Coughlin had this reputation as being this hard-nosed guy, but my rookie year everybody said he switched up and became more of a relaxed coach,'' said London, who was on the New York Giants' practice squad in 2008 when the Giants won the Super Bowl. ''When you take that relaxed approach with coach Coughlin, with what he knows about football and Xs and Os and life experiences, him and coach Trestman are pretty much the same guy.''

Tom Coughlin with trophy.jpgLondon who had 44 receptions for 848 yards (19.3 yards per catch) for the Alouettes last season, played in 14 games for the Miami Dolphins in 2008 and had four receptions for 38 yards in the playoffs. So he's well acquainted with the CFL and NFL. He said he doesn't think Trestman, who has not coached in the NFL since 2003, will have a difficult adjustment.

''The field is smaller and you're playing with 11 guys instead of 12, but I don't think it's going to be a problem at all,'' said London, 28, who played at the University of Massachusetts. ''He loves football. He studies. He analyzes himself, his offense. He's always trying to adapt and evolve into not only a better coach, but a better play-caller.

''Maybe for one or two preseason games he'll be a little rusty. After he gets the feel of his players and what he's working with, he'll be fine.''

The 6-4, 210-pound London made enough of an impression in the NFL -- the Dolphins took him off the Giants' practice squad in 2009 -- that it wouldn't be surprising to see him get a shot with the Bears. But if not, he wishes his old coach well. Everybody is happy to see a CFL coach get an opportunity like this.

''I think he's walking into a great situation, because he already has a defense [with the Bears], London said. ''He just has to get the offense in order. He has great schemes. He knows what he's doing.''


Like Bears general manager Phil Emery apparently was during the course of his coaching search, Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp was very impressed when he first interviewed Marc Trestman five years ago to be his head coach.

"When you interview Marc, he's outstanding," Popp told the Sun-Times on Wednesday. "He's just got everything laid out. It's very simple to follow. I think that has a lot to with his background and getting a law degree. He prepares as though he's going into a courtroom, where he's going to leave nothing unturned.

"He has a plan. And then he stays after it. That's how he approaches it with his coaches. He coaches his coaches, and they better be able to coach his players when it gets to game time and they're ready to go. He's very impressive that way.

Jay Cutler on Bears coach Marc Trestman: 'Great hire'

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Jay Cutler is happy.jpgThe hiring of Marc Trestman comes with the Jay Cutler seal-of-approval.

''It's a great hire. I couldn't be more excited,'' Cutler told the team's web site. ''I've talked to guys around the league and did my own research on him. He's an offensive mind, a great person and a guy that's going to come in hopefully lead us to many victories in the future.''

Bears general manager Phil Emery made it clear that maximizing Cutler's potential as a ''franchise'' quarterback was a prime focus of his search for a new head coach. Eight of the 13 candidates who were known to have interviewed, including the three finalists, were offensive coaches. Trestman arguably has the greatest reputation as a ''quarterback guru.''

''He's been successful wherever he's been,'' Cutler said. ''He's from the West Coast coaching tree, which I'm familiar with. It's what I came into the league with, with [Mike] Shanahan [with Denver in 2006], so I'm looking forward to it.''

That's a far cry from Cutler's attitude the last time he was involved in a head coaching change. After Mike Shanahan was fired by the Denver Broncos after the 2008 season, Cutler expressed his disappointment and was nowhere to be found when the Broncos hired New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to replace Shanahan.

Lovie Smith expected to sit out 2013 season

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Former Bears coach Lovie Smith interviewed for three NFL head-coaching vacancies but the respective clubs picked other candidates.

And while two openings remain, Smith isn't believed to be a candidate for either. Lovie Sideline.jpg

So Smith is expected to sit out the 2013 NFL season and reconsider his options next offseason, according to a league source.

But Smith will still collect a handsome paycheck.

The Bears owe him what is believed to be at least $5 million for the 2013 season, and they'll have to pay him the entire salary.

While some have speculated that Smith would be a strong defensive coordinator candidate, Smith will not go that route, opting instead to take the first break of his coaching career, since he started at his alma mater, Big Sandy High School, in 1980.

After the Bears fired him following a 10-6 season, Smith immediately became a candidate for several NFL openings. He interviewed with the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles. But the Bills hired Doug Marrone, the Chargers hired Mike McCoy and the Eagles hired Chip Kelly.

Video: A Twitter conversation between Bears fans

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By Chad Merda

Twitter was buzzing after the Bears announced the hiring of Marc Trestman. So we decided to string together various users' Bears tweets to see what the conversation would sound like:

New Bears coach Marc Trestman is working quickly to put together his staff.

Early indications are that he'll retain defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, and he's already agreed to hire his offensive coordinator. Aaron Kromer, the offensive line coach and interim head coach four six games last season for the New Orleans Saints, will be the Bears offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, a league source said. Kromer.jpg

Kromer has been with the Saints since 2008, initially handling running backs before shifting to the offensive line. As interim head coach, with Sean Payton and Joe Vitt unavailable at the start of the season, Kromer led the Saints to a 2-4 record.

The Saints finished 7-9.

Trestman worked with Kromer in Oakland in 2001. Trestman was the quarterbacks coach then offensive coordinator while Kromer oversaw the offensive line.

The Raiders reached the Super Bowl during the 2002 season.

In 1999 and 2000, Kromer coached the offensive line at Northwestern.

The hiring of Kromer doesn't bode well for Mike Tice, who was the offensive line coach then promoted to offensive coordinator last season. The Bears offense, though, ranked 28th and struggled throughout the season.


Brandon Marshall underwent hip scope last night

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Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said he underwent a minor scope on his hip Tuesday night.

"Just a little clean up," Marshall said.

He's had hip procedures in the past, but he insisted the injury isn't an issue. He will not, however, defend his Pro Bowl MVP because he will not play in the NFL's All-Star game later this month in Hawaii.

"No, I'm not going to play," Marshall said.

Brandon Marshall: "I absolutely love the hire"

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New Bears coach Marc Trestman got a ringing endorsement from one of the team's key players.

Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall was a vocal supporter of Lovie Smith, but he is excited about the team's future under Trestman. Marshall.jpg

"I absolutely love the hire," Marshall told the Sun-Times, "and the few guys I've talked to love it too.

"Hearing from guys who have played for him and been around him, he's a guy that's innovative."

Marshall said he's already started reading Trestman's book, "Perseverance: Life Lessons of Leadership and Teamwork."

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler trained with Trestman before his rookie season with the Denver Broncos.

"I really think all of the guys will benefit from this and our team will go to another level," Marshall said. "That always seems to happen when you get a coach who really gets it and who understands every part of the game. I'm excited.

I can't wait to get back to work with him and the guys, and I'm excited to learn from him."

Marshall also applauded the search conducted by general manager Phil Emery.

"The thing I appreciate the most is, is Phil's due diligence and how he brought the best guy for our organization," Marshall said.


S.J. Green couldn't be happier for Marc Trestman.

The Montreal Alouettes star receiver knows that his former head coach dreamed of being an NFL coach. Just after 4 a.m. on Wednesday, the Bears named Trestman, a longtime NFL assistant who was in charge of the Alouettes for the last five seasons, their new head coach.

New Bears coach Marc Trestman is widely known for his work with quarterbacks.

But it's emphasis on protecting them that has been a key to their success.

In 2007, the Montreal Alouettes gave up 68 sacks on 625 passes attempts. Trestman took over as head coach in 2008 and, largely with the same group of players, reduced the number of sacks to 22 on 712 pass attempts. Karhut.jpg

"We heard he had NFL experience, but we weren't too sure about him," said Ryan Karhut, an offensive lineman on the Alouettes. "But he understands football on a whole other level.

"It was neat to hear him talk and break things down."

At training camp before the 2008 season, Trestman emphasized two principles, Karhut said: protect the quarterback and get after the opponent's quarterback.

"It's a huge part of football," Karhut said, "and he made it a massive part of our team at the time."

The Alouettes were 8-8 in 2007, but they headed to the Grey Cup in Trestman's first season. They lost that game, though. Karhut suffered an injury early in the 2009 season, and he was released. The Alouettes won the the first of back-to-back championships that season.

"He's a difference maker for all the right reasons," said Karhut, now the head coach of the Winnipeg Rifles, a junior football team. "He's all about football, and he cares. A lot of people say they care about football, but he truly cares, and it shows every day."

Karhut spoke to me Monday and said Jay Cutler would thrive under Trestman.

"If [Trestman] gets that job, pick Jay Cutler in fantasy football," Karhut said.

Marc Trestman may retain Rod Marinelli

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New Bears coach Marc Trestman, who turned 57 Tuesday, will now work to put together his coaching staff.

Looks like several might not have to relocate.

Two sources indicated that they believe Trestman may keep some of Lovie Smith's assistants, most notably defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Marinelli.jpg

Given his offensive background, Trestman may entrust Marinelli to run the defense, which ranked in the top five in numerous categories, most notably takeaways and total yards allowed. Other key defensive assistants may also be asked to fulfill their contract.

The question now is, does Marinelli want to stay? He was loyal to former Bears coach Lovie Smith, and a source said Marinelli may not want to remain with the team.

On the offensive side, indications are quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates may have a chance to remain. Quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall are big backers of him, and Bates' background is rooted in a West Coast offense, which Trestman utilizes. In Denver, Cutler earned a trip to the Pro Bowl playing in a West Coast offense.

What's murkier, however, is the future of Mike Tice, the offensive line coach who was promoted to offensive coordinator last offseason. The Bears offense ranked just 28th last season under Tice, and he doesn't run a West Coast scheme.

Marc Trestman brings impressive resume to the Bears

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Marc Trestman named Bears coach.jpgThe Bears announced the hiring of Marc Trestman as their head coach at 4:08 a.m. Wednesday.

Trestman, who turned 57 on Tuesday, has been the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League since 2008. But he earned most of his reputation as a quarterback guru in 18 years as an NFL assistant.

Here's a quick look at Trestman's accomplishments prior to coming to Chicago:

1. Won two Canadian Football League championships in three Grey Cup appearances in five seasons as head coach of the Montreal Alouettes. The Alouettes were 8-10 the season prior to Trestman's arrival. They are 59-31 with four division titles since.


Dave Toub is the first to go.

Toub, as expected, was officially named the special teams coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday afternoon. He leaves the Bears after nine successful seasons in charge of their special teams.

The Bears interviewed Toub last week for their head coaching vacancy, but he always was viewed as a longshot to replace Lovie Smith.

General manager Phil Emery granted the Chiefs permission to speak to Toub, who was signed by the Bears through 2013, about the lateral move. Toub previously worked with new Chiefs coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia before becoming one of Smith's first hires.

Toub is the first assistant coach to leave the Bears after Smith was fired on Dec. 31.

"Dave is one of the league's best special teams minds," Reid told the Chiefs' website. "He will bring an innovative approach and consistency to this group. Dave will get the most out of our players and I'm very happy he is joining our staff."

Brandon Marshall to have hip scope

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Bears Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his hip, according to a league source.

Marshall isn't expected to be slowed for more than couple of weeks.

But this wouldn't be the first time Marshall has required surgery on his hip.

Marshall also had a hip procedure during the 2010 offseason, the Denver Post previously reported.

Steve Young: Marc Trestman can fix Cutler, and more

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Steve Young 49ers.jpgHall of Fame quarterback Steve Young gave Marc Trestman a ringing endorsement for the Bears' head coaching job, saying Trestman can do for the Bears what Jim Harbaugh has done for the 49ers -- taking over a team with a solid defense in place and upgrading the offense to turn it into a Super Bowl contender.

Trestman was the offensive coordinator for Young with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995 and 1996. He has won two CFL championships in three Grey Cup appearances in five years with the Montreal Alouettes. But he never has coached in the NFL.

''The CFL is just a place where he's gotten to show that he's a dynamic leader,'' Young said in an interview on the ''Waddle & Silvy Show'' on WMVP-AM. ''He's a dynamic straight-shooter. He's a soft-spoken guy, but the Bears with their defensive history ... this is going to be a great hire.

[He'll hire a] great defensive coordinator. Keep that tradition up and watch the flowering of a great offense. Look what's happening in San Francisco. That's what the Bears could be. And I think that's what Marc Trestman can bring them.''

Dave Toub expected to leave Bears for Chiefs

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After a long and distinguished run with the Bears, special teams coordinator Dave Toub is expected to make a lateral move to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Two league sources confirmed the news, which was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Toub oversaw special teams for all nine of Lovie Smith's seasons with the Bears, and he consistently had among the strongest units in the NFL. Toub Smile.jpg

Toub interviewed for the Miami Dolphins head coaching vacancy last offseason, and he interviewed to replace Smith but was considered a long-shot. Since he wasn't going to get the head coaching job, Bears general manager Phil Emery may have allowed Toub the option to make a lateral move.

It would have been awkward, to say the least, if Toub missed on the head coach job and remained as the special teams coordinator.

The Bears also likely save some money because Toub was believed to be among the highest-paid special teams coordinators in the league.

Before joining the Bears, Toub worked for Andy Reid in Philadelphia. After the Eagles fired him earlier this month, Reid was hired as the new head coach of the Chiefs.

The two have a long history together, one that dates to the 1980s.

Toub also interviewed for a position with the Carolina Panthers last week.

Mike McCoy hired as Chargers head coach

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Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is about to become the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

A league source confirmed to me a CBS Sports report that McCoy and the Chargers are working on a deal.

McCoy was a Bears candidate, but I don't think the club was seriously considering him. As I suggested in the past, I think there may have been some murky issues between McCoy and two players on the roster who played under him in Denver, Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler. The quarterback, of course, only lasted a few weeks with him while Marshall played one season under McCoy before he was traded to the Miami Dolphins.

McCoy was the offensive coordinator in Denver under head coach Josh McDaniels, who shipped Cutler to Chicago.

Meanwhile, many presumed that Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians wanted the Chargers job because Colts player personnel vice president Tom Telesco was hired as the general manager there. But that's a dangerous assumption.

I've gotten several indications that Arians was favoring the Bears and Chargers and may have actually preferred Chicago because of the roster. But Arians has said repeatedly he isn't going to leave the Colts just for the sake of leaving.

There were reports that Arians was going to interview with the Philadelphia Eagles today but that meeting was never set up.

UPDATE: The NFL Network and CBS Sports are both reporting that McCoy has finalized a deal to become the head coach of the Chargers. So the remaining jobs are: Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles.

Bruce Arians to interview again with Bears

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Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will get a second interview with the Bears, a league source told the Sun-Times.

Arians was scheduled to interview Sunday with Bears general manager Phil Emery. An NFL coach of the year candidate, Arians has emerged as one of the hottest head coach prospects, along with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Arians is scheduled to meet with the San Diego Chargers Wednesday.

The Chargers are an intriguing team since they hired Colts player personnel vice president Tom Telesco to be the new general manager. Arians told a San Diego radio station that he had a lot of respect for Telesco.

But sources have indicated to the Sun-Times that Arians is also intrigued with the Bears job since the team did go 10-6 in 2012 and features a strong roster, most notably quarterback Jay Cutler. It's believed Arians prefers to head to a team with a proven quarterback in place.

But Arians has a track record of developing players at that position. He was the first to work with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, not to mention several of Ben Roethlisberger's best years in Pittsburgh.

Could you imagine the feather in Arians' cap if he could get the best out of Jay Cutler?

That may just be the sort of challenge that appeals to Arians.

More than a dozen candidates were interviewed, but Bears general manager Phil Emery will conduct second interviews with at least two of them.

Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Montreal Alouette coach Marc Trestman are the finalists, a league source said, confirming ESPN's initial report.

Two days after the season, Emery said he would pick two or three finalists. It's unclear if there is a third candidate.

Emery met with Bevell Saturday in Atlanta, where the Seahawks were preparing to play the Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Emery met with Trestman Jan. 7 in the Chicago area.

Trestman reportedly interviewed for the Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator job Sunday.

Bevell has distinguished himself with the success of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, a third-round pick who shined throughout the season. Bevell was widely praised in Seattle for his development of Wilson. Previously, he was the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, most notably in 2009 when Brett Favre posted MVP caliber numbers.

Trestman has worked with some of the league's top quarterbacks and oversaw the top-rated Raiders offense that was led by Rich Gannon.

Bruce Arians not meeting with Eagles Tuesday

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Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, one of the hotter head coach candidates, isn't meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles Tuesday, according to a league source.

Arians was scheduled to first meet with the Bears Sunday in either Chicago or Indianapolis then head to San Diego to visit with the Chargers Monday. But I've received no confirmation that Arians actually met with the Bears, and his interview with the Chargers was reportedly moved to Wednesday to accommodate a Monday interview with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Arians Yell.jpg

So what's going on?

That's not entirely clear. But Arians has been one of the more quoted candidates, doing a range of interviews. It doesn't appear, though, that anyone has quoted him in the last couple of days.

The belief was that Arians may have favored the Bears and Chargers because of the quality of players, especially the potential of the quarterbacks. And he's talked about the importance of having a strong working relationship with the general manager, highlighting the respect he has for Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and Tom Telesco, who just left the Colts to take over as GM of the Chargers.

The Eagles, meanwhile, reportedly have unnerved some candidates because of the presence of Howie Roseman. CBS Sports said Roseman -- the general manager who doesn't have a personnel background -- could be scaring off candidates in Philadelphia.

Arians and McCoy seem to be the two hottest candidates with the five NFL clubs looking for a head coach. So when a club goes all-in on one, it'll likely trigger a domino effect.

As for the Bears, it was a relatively quiet day, although several league sources suggested to me that they expected Marc Trestman to be a finalist, if not the favorite to land the job. Ultimately, though, general manager Phil Emery is the only one who knows currently tops his list.

Texans: More to Rick Dennison than meets the eye

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Rick Dennison with No. 73 (large).jpgAs an offensive coordinator who played linebacker for nine years in the NFL, Rick Dennison has unique credentials to be a head coach.

''He's got a very good grasp of the game on both sides of the ball,'' Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels said. ''I think you need that as a head coach.''

Dennison's role as the Texans' offensive coordinator still comes with a hitch. Though he is responsible for developing the game plan each week, he does not call plays on Sunday. That's a stigma that has made it more difficult for many offensive coordinators to move to head-coaching positions.

But that's about the only thing Dennison does not do as an assistant coach for Gary Kubiak. In fact, Dennison has been described as sharing head-coaching authority in all facets of the offense.

''A good head coach is a motivator of men. He does a great job of that,'' said fullback Tyler Clutts, who played for the Bears last season. ''You get guys to buy into your program and your offense and that's the key. Guys believe. It starts with coach Kubiak and coach Dennison, all the way down. I think anybody would be lucky to have him.''

Rick Dennison Bears.jpgRick Dennison is hoping for the best, but the Houston Texans' offensive coordinator seemed to regret the unfortunate timing of his candidacy for the Bears' head coaching job.

Dennison met with Bears general manager Phil Emery on Friday. But he acknowledged that he was unable to put his best foot forward because it came in the middle of preparations for the Texans' AFC divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots.

After the Texans' season ended with a 41-28 loss at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on Sunday, Dennison said it was hard for him to peg just how his interview went.

''It was brief,'' he said. ''It was a couple of hours. We were finishing practice and he [Emery] had a schedule. I was really, really focused on [the game]. It was great to visit and that's all it really was.''

If Phil Emery moves on to the second stage of his all-encompassing search for Lovie Smith's replacement, the Bears' general manager won't be held back from speaking to many of his candidates a second time after what happened in the divisional playoffs Saturday and Sunday.

Bears candidates Tom Clements (Green Bay Packers), Rick Dennison (Houston Texans), Keith Armstrong (Atlanta Falcons), Darrell Bevell (Seattle Seahawks) and Mike McCoy (Denver Broncos) were all involved this weekend in the playoffs. But only Armstrong's Falcons are still playing.

Assistant coaches who are on teams that make a conference title game or the Super Bowl have a harder time landing a head-coaching job. After Sunday, teams looking for a coach can't conduct any initial or second-round interviews with assistants who are still in the playoffs until the open week before the Super Bowl, per NFL rules. Teams typically don't want to wait that long.

In other words, Clements, Dennison, Bevell and McCoy are there for the "talking" if Emery wants.

Report: Browns deny Bears request to talk to Chris Tabor

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Chris Tabor with the Bears.pngThe Bears reportedly are one of six teams to be denied a request to interview Browns special teams coach Chris Tabor, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter -- an indication the Bears are anticipating losing special teams coordinator Dave Toub.

Tabor was Toub's assistant with the Bears from 2008-10 before getting the coordinator's job with the Browns. In his two seasons, the Browns finished 10th and third in special teams rankings compiled by The Browns recently hired Rob Chudzinski as their head coach, so it's clear that Tabor will be retained by the Browns.

Toub has interviewed for the Bears' head coaching job. But he also reportedly has interviewed for special teams coordinators jobs with the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers.

Former Bears CB Corey Graham shines for Ravens in win

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Corey Graham developed into a Pro Bowl special teams player for the Bears.

A fifth round pick out of New Hampshire, Graham was a special teams leader for the Bears, and he even started eight games in his second NFL season.

But, try as he might, Graham couldn't get Bears coach Lovie Smith to let him play cornerback on defense. Graham.jpg

So during free agency, Graham headed to Baltimore -- and he's proven many times over that he isn't only a special teams ace.

Graham made several big plays during the season, and he started eight games for the Ravens. But he had his best game as a pro Saturday in Denver, intercepting two passes of Peyton Manning, both of them huge. The first he returned 39 yards for a touchdown off a tipped pass, and the second he stepped in front of a receiver in overtime to get his team the ball near midfield.

Here is what Graham had to say afterwards:

* On the picks: "First, it was a tipped ball. You run to the ball and I believe [CB] Chykie [Brown] got his hand on the ball, [and] was able to tip it up and it came right to me. It was just one of those plays, being in the right spot. On the second one, I was in coverage and [WR Brandon] Stokley turned it up the field on me. I was recovering, trying to get back to him, and I was able to undercut it and get underneath it. It was one of those plays."

Clarity on interviews for playoff coaches

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Eight teams are still vying for a Super Bowl ring, and the Bears are interested in at least four of them.

General manager Phil Emery interviewed Green Bay's Tom Clements, Atlanta's Keith Armstrong and Denver's Mike McCoy, and he's scheduled to visit with Houston's Rick Dennison and Seattle's Darrell Bevell by Saturday.

So what happens if the respective clubs of those coaches advance to the conference title games?

The league policy makes clear that no initial interviews can even be requested after the Divisional Playoff weekend.

But here's a key: "In any year in which there is at least a two-week break between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, an assistant coach who (i) has previously interviewed for another club's head coaching job and (ii) whose current employer-club is participating in the Super Bowl may have a second interview with a club with which he has previously interviewed for an open head coach position provided that (i) the current employer-club elects to grant permission for a second interview, and (ii) the interview will take place at a time and location that is acceptable for the current employer-club, but no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl."

So, in essence, the Bears could speak assistants on clubs that lose this weekend. But if there's an assistant they want to speak to again whose club advances, then they must get permission and conduct the second interview the Sunday before the Super Bowl, which is Jan. 27.

Don't see the Bears waiting that long.

The Bears have allowed special teams coordinator Dave Toub to interview for other assistant coaching jobs on other staffs, according to sources.

The Charlotte Observer reported Thursday that Toub met Wednesday with Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Today, Toub is in Kansas City visiting with new Chiefs coach Andy Reid, according to a league source. Toub Smile.jpg

Toub interviewed on Monday for the Bears coaching vacancy with general manager Phil Emery, but he's believed to be a long shot for the job. Toub wrapped up his ninth season with the Bears, continually leading one of the best special teams units in the NFL.

Toub is under contract to the Bears through the 2013 season, but the Bears have granted him the opportunity to at least interview with other clubs for what could be lateral moves. He's believed to be one of the highest-paid special teams coordinators in the NFL.

At 4:37 a.m., from his verified Twitter account, former head coach Jimmy Johnson posted a puzzling message that set the popular social media website abuzz Friday morning.

"Looks like [two] of my guys getting NFL jobs... Chud Cleveland and my QB coach at U Trestman to Chicago," Johnson write. J Johnson.jpg

Rob Chudzinski was named the Cleveland Browns head coach Thursday evening, and he conducted his introductory press conference this morning.

But Marc Trestman to the Bears?

That hasn't happened, although Trestman is a candidate to replace Lovie Smith as Bears head coach.

The Bears declined comment about Johnson's Twitter post, which is consistent with their policy for this search. Last year, during the general manager search, the Bears announced and confirmed information. But this go around, they are not.

But indications are, the Bears search is ongoing and Trestman isn't set to be hired. Bears general manager Phil Emery has several more interviews lined up: Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison tonight in Houston, Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Atlanta Saturday and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in Indianapolis Sunday. In addition, Emery will interview Minnesota Vikings assistants Mike Preifer and Mike Singletary in Atlanta sometime this weekend, presumably before leaving the southern city for Indianapolis.

Emery noted during his press conference two days after the 2012 season ended that he planned to do an extensive search then bring two or three finalists to Halas Hall to visit with team chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips.

Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is one of the hotter candidates to become a head coach. And while he's scheduled to interview with the Bears Sunday, he expressed an interest in the San Diego Chargers vacancy because of a recent hire.

The Chargers hired Tom Telesco as general manager, after he'd served as the vice president of player personnel with the Colts.

So could Arians go from the Colts to the Bolts?

"I would be now that Tommy's there," Arians said on The Mighty 1090 in San Diego, via Sports Radio Interviews. "I think so much of [the] success that teams have are great relationships between general manager and head coach. And it's not who has control of the roster, it's how do we get the best players?

"I had the opportunity to work for 12 weeks as a head coach this year with [Colts general manager] Ryan Grigson and Tommy Telesco, and it was a fantastic relationship. And I wouldn't want to work in any other situation as a head coach, unless it's that type of relationship where nobody's got a power player [and] we're all in this together trying to win."

Updates on Bruce Arians, Rick Dennison and Mike McCoy

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After a rough few days, Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is out the hospital, and he's slated to speak to the Bears Sunday.

The Indianapolis Star also caught up with Arians, who missed the Colts' Wildcard loss to the Baltimore Ravens due to an illness. Arians Yell.jpg

Asked about head-coaching interest, Arians told the Star, "I have to listen.

"I never thought this would happen. I have a great job, so it's going to have to be a perfect fit for me to leave."

Arians added that it would be difficult to leave the Colts, given how tight that was team was and his role in helping them with an unforgettable season.

"You always want to win one of these Super Bowls on your own," he told the paper.

Jay Cutler excited about future with new Bears coach

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Jay Cutler.jpgAfter some initial dismay, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said he's excited about his future with the Bears under a new head coach.

''At first your torn,'' Cutler said during an appearance on the ''Silvy & Waddle Show'' on WMVP-AM on Wednesday. ''I didn't want to second-guess any decision makers, what direction they wanted to go. Then you look at what Lovie's done. We're close talent-wise. It's hard to justify a firing of a coach [that went 10-6]. Teams have four or five wins and [still] have their coach.

''[But] the more you get into the process, the more the excitement builds. I'm excited about the future and the direction this team is going. I have a lot of confidence in Phil Emery and that they're going to do a great job.''

Cutler said he would not ask to be a part of the interview process, but would not turn down the opportunity to talk with any of the candidates.

''If Phil asked me yeah. But I'm not going to petition for it,'' Cutler said. ''I am more than confident in Phil being able to do this. He's got it under control.''

Lovie Smith will interview with Eagles Thursday

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Former Bears coach Lovie Smith will interview with the Philadelphia Eagles for their vacancy Thursday, the team announced.

The Eagles were reportedly very interesting in landing Oregon coach Chip Kelly. But Kelly opted -- for the second offseason in a row -- to remain at Oregon after a flirtation with the NFL. Last year, he was close to becoming the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs, though, ended up hiring Greg Schiano from Rutgers.

The Eagles also were interested in Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. But O'Brien elected to remain at Penn State, and Marrone was introduced as the Buffalo Bills head coach Monday. Smith also interviewed with the Bills.

The Eagles search seems to focus more on pro assistants. They've already interviewed several, including Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Last year, Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub interviewed for the Miami Dolphins head coaching vacancy.

On Monday, he officially interviewed for the Bears opening, according to a league source. Toub.jpg

Bears general manager Phil Emery reportedly met with CFL coach Marc Trestman in the Chicago area, so he likely also met with Toub at the team's headquarters in Lake Forest.

Like many other assistant coaches on the Bears staff, Toub remains under contract to the club until Lovie Smith's replacement is hired.

Toub is the fourth special teams coordinator Emery has interviewed or scheduled an interview with. He's already met with Keith Armstrong of the Atlanta Falcons and Joe DeCamillis of the Dallas Cowboys, and he'll talk to Mike Priefer of the Minnesota Vikings later this week.

The Bears special teams unit consistently ranks among the NFL's top 10, and Toub has helped Devin Hester break numerous return records.

Mike Singletary, one of the Bears greatest players, will interview for the team's coaching vacancy, according to a league source.

The Hall of Fame linebacker is currently serving as a special assistant under another former Bears player, Leslie Frazier, the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Singletary was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, but he compiled an 18-22 record.

He was replaced by former Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

The Bears have requested permission from the Vikings to speak to Singletary and Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. The Tribune first reported the request for the two Viking assistants.

The Vikings season ended Saturday in a 24-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Priefer is one of the more respected special teams coordinators in the NFL. This season, he helped kicker Blair Walsh, a sixth-round pick, develop into a Pro Bowl player as a rookie. Walsh even set the league record for most 50-plus yard field goals (10) in a single season.

But Singletary is one of the biggest names in Bears history.

A 10-time Pro Bowl selection, he shined as the middle linebacker.

He's also had a distinguished coaching career, most notably working with star linebackers in Baltimore, particularly one named Ray Lewis.

Chuck Pagano: 'We do not want to lose Bruce Arians'

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Chuck Pagano & Bruce Arians.jpgIndianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians -- a candidate for the Bears' head coaching job -- still is in a Baltimore hospital and is in good spirits but will not be released until his blood pressure is "under control."

Arians was admitted to the hospital Sunday with an undisclosed illness and missed the Colts' 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC wild-card game at M&T Bank Stadium.

''[He's] expected to be back any time -- any time real soon,'' Pagano said at a season wrap-up press conference Monday at the Colts' practice facility in Indianapolis. ''Every test they ran on Bruce -- and obviously they put him through a battery of tests from A to Z -- all have been negative.

''He's doing well. They would have let him come home early this morning. But whatever he's dealing with has affected his blood pressure and they're not going to release him until they get the blood pressure under control. Which they will. But we expect him here any time. I talked to his wife through texts this morning. And he's doing well and in good spirits and all that stuff. We'll be glad to get him back.''

Bruce Arians & Andrew Luck.jpgA week ago, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck kiddingly said he would give Bruce Arians only bad reviews if teams like the Bears asked about his offensive coordinator.

''Terrible things. Terrible things,'' Luck said.

But after the Colts' season ended and the possibility that Arians would get a head coaching job in the NFL became a little more real, Luck couldn't hide the truth.

''Coach Arians has meant a lot to me, this offense and this organization all year,'' Luck said. ''Obviously I want him back. But you understand -- who wouldn't want a crack at a head job in the NFL? But selfishly, I hope he doesn't go anywhere.''

Arians, who was hospitalized for an undisclosed illness and missed the Colts' 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore, was not with the team after the Colts returned to Indianapolis -- and the Colts might have to get used to it. Arians is one of the cast-of-thousands up for the Bears coaching vacancy. And the Eagles, Browns and Chargers also have shown interest him. At 60, after 20 years as an NFL assistant -- a year after the Steelers had no use for him -- Arians finally might get the opportunity of a lifetime.

Bears to interview Seahawks O-C Darrell Bevell

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The Bears have requested and are expected to receive permission to speak to Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, according to a league source.

Bevell is a former Badgers quarterback who also was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, where he helped Brett Favre have an MVP caliber season in 2009. Bevell, though, wasn't able to help develop former second-round pick Tarvaris Jackson, whom then Vikings coach Brad Childress believed could become a franchise quarterback. Bevell.jpg

But Bevell has been a hot coordinator this year because of his work with Russell Wilson, another former Badger quarterback. But what makes Wilson's season all the more impressive is that he was a third-round pick, and he's performed brilliantly late in games.

The Bears, much to their chagrin, know that all too well; Wilson led a pair of 80-plus yard touchdown drives late in the game then led another long drive to set up a game-winning field goal in overtime.

The Seahawks defeated the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field 24-14, and they'll face the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday.

Because the Seahawks are still in contention, Bears general manager Phil Emery will have to travel to Seattle to interview Bevell. The window is Monday through the conclusion of the Divisional Playoffs. Since the Seahawks play next Sunday, Emery would likely need to conduct the interview before Bevell travels with the team to Atlanta.

It's not believed that a time and date have yet been set.

Six-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, one of the league's more thoughtful players, provided me some insight on two of the coordinators the Bears are expected to interview this week.

Saturday played under Bruce Arians and Tom Clements. Saturday.jpg

Here's what he told me about both:

* On Bruce Arians: "He's terrific. He's one of the better offensive coordinators in the league. Great leader. Fun guy to play for. He's got a great sense with players. He gets you excited about playing. He designs plays to make his players look the best. I have the utmost respect for him. I hope he has a shot to take his own team over, because he's been in this league a long time and done a lot of winning.

* On how Arians handled Indianapolis Colts this season as interim head coach: "You would never want what happened to happen. But he's a guy you want to play hard for. He's got that way about him. Even when I talked to him before I came here, he's one of those guys who has a great spirit about him. You just enjoy playing for him."

* On his style: "From our standpoint, he was a great coach to be with. If you had bad plays, he'll call you out. He's one of those guys. But he does it in the right way. He encourages you to be better, he holds guys accountable. Then he holds himself accountable. As a player, you want someone who will hold himself accountable. I think that's what makes players want to go out and perform for him."

* On Clements: "He's a fantastic coach. He's been instrumental for Aaron [Rodgers]. Him and I talked about him, and he couldn't say enough good things about him. He really trusts him, and trusts his mind. He does a great job of getting us prepared."

Bruce Arians & Andrew Luck.jpgA week ago, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck kiddingly said he would give Bruce Arians only bad reviews if teams like the Bears asked about his offensive coordinator.

''Terrible things. Terrible things,'' Luck said.

But after the Colts' season ended and the possibility that Arians would get a head coaching job in the NFL became a little more real, Luck couldn't hide the truth.

''Coach Arians has meant a lot to me, this offense and this organization all year,'' Luck said. ''Obviously I want him back. But you understand -- who wouldn't want a crack at a head job in the NFL? But selfishly, I hope he doesn't go anywhere.''

Arians, who was hospitalized for an undisclosed illness and missed the Colts' 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore, was not with the team after the Colts returned to Indianapolis -- and the Colts might have to get used to it. Arians is one of the cast-of-thousands up for the Bears coaching vacancy. And the Eagles, Browns and Chargers also have shown interest him. At 60, after 20 years as an NFL assistant -- a year after the Steelers had no use for him -- Arians finally might get the opportunity of a lifetime.

Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is flattered by the Bears interest in him for their head-coaching vacancy. But he doesn't want to be distracted from his duties with the Texans, he told the Houston Chronicle.

Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said today he's focused on the divisional-round game at New England rather than interviewing for a head-coaching job. Click here for the Chronicle story.

Dennison said general manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak told him the Bears asked for and received permission to interview him, but he hasn't heard from the Bears, according to the Chronicle.

"The Bears have a great organization, and I know several members of their staff as well as Jay [Cutler] and Brandon [Marshall]," Dennison told the Chronicle. "I haven't talked to them. I don't know what's going on. I'm focused on getting ready for [New England].

"If something happens, it can't interfere with my work. I'm not going up there because it would be too disruptive our work week."

Dennison told the Chronicle that he wants to be a head coach, but he's committed to the Texans.

"Yes, I do, but I'm not sitting around thinking about it," he said. "I appreciate any interest, but my loyalty is to this organization and doing everything I can to help us win. For somebody to ask about [me], it's an honor, but I don't want to consume too much time on that because I've got enough to do here."

Ex-CFL coach Marv Levy endorses Clements,Trestman

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Marv Levy HOF.jpgBefore he became a Hall of Fame coach, Marv Levy was in Marc Trestman's shoes. The head coach of the Montreal Alouettes, and a candidate for an NFL head coaching job.

''The similarities are remarkable,'' Levy said. ''We were both assistants in the NFL first. We both went to Canada. We both appeared in three Grey Cups and both won two of them.

''I know Marc a little bit. I stay in touch with the Alouettes and I have very high regard for him.''

Levy coached the Alouettes from 1973-77. After winning his second Grey Cup in 1977, he was hired to coach the Kansas City Chiefs in 1978. He was fired after going 31-42 in five years at Kansas City -- a move owner Lamar Hunt later acknowledged was a mistake. Levy was hired by the Buffalo Bills in 1986 and had a glorious 11-year run that included four AFC Championships.

Levy, a South Shore product who at 87 still lives on the city's North Side, said the transition from the CFL to the NFL was no factor. On the contrary, the head coaching opportunity enhanced his coaching ability.

CBS' Shannon Sharpe: Jay Cutler is a 'coach killer'

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Shannon Sharpe on the NFL Today.jpgBears general manager Phil Emery seems to be focusing his search for a replacement for Lovie Smith on a coach who can maximize quarterback Jay Cutler. But some experts believe that person does not exist.

On CBS' ''NFL Today'' pre-game show Sunday, analyst Shannon Sharpe was the latest to imply that Cutler is more the problem than the solution. In fact, he said it outright:

''Jay Cutler, I do not believe he is a leader of men,'' Sharpe told the show's panel of James Brown, Bill Cowher and Dan Marino. ''He's a quarterback, not a leader. And there's a difference.''

''So you're saying he's a coach killer?'' Sharpe nodded in the affirmative.

As promised, Phil Emery casting a wide net

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There were seven vacancies, and two of the have been filed.

The Kansas City Chiefs hired Andy Reid, and the Buffalo Bills hired Doug Marrone.

But give Bears general manager Phil Emery this: he's held firm to his promise to look at a "wide variety of candidates."

The Bears certainly have cast the widest net. The known interviews thus far: Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.

As I previously reported, Emery was scheduled to meet with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy today. And he's scheduled to meet with Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman Monday, according to ESPN.

The Bears have also requested to speak to Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

But I suspect there are others who have or will be interviewed.

The Bears requested and were granted permission to speak to Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, ESPN reported this morning.

Dennison has been a key for the Texans power running game, and he was a finalist for the Denver Broncos head coaching job that went to John Fox.

Dennison running game a power, was a finalist for the Broncos job that went to John Fox two offseasons ago. Rick Dennison.jpg

Dennison worked with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall in Denver.

The Bears are scheduled to visit with current Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy today in Denver.

On Monday, the Bears will interview Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman on Monday, ESPN reported.

One concern about Dennison is that Texans head coach Gary Kubiak calls offensive plays.

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has often professed his appreciation for Tom Clements, his quarterbacks coach and his offensive coordinator in 2012.

But with Clements a candidate for the Bears head coaching vacancy, Rodgers isn't ready to wish his coach goodbye just yet.

"Tom is a great man and a great friend, and he's been a big part of my success," Rodgers said. "I've learned a lot from him and under his guidance."

Then Rodgers paused for a moment then concluded, "We hope he's still here next year."

Clements has an impressive pedigree, aside from his NFL coaching experience. He's a former Notre Dame starting quarterback, leading the team to a national title in 1973.

Clements was promoted to offensive coordinator after Joe Philbin left the Packers to become the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

But, like Philbin, Clements does have one red flag: he didn't call offensive plays. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy handles that duty, and he hasn't ceded it since taking over the team.

Marc Trestman with the 2010 Gold Cup.jpgThe Sun-Times has confirmed reports that long-time NFL quarterback guru Marc Trestman, currently the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, will interview for the Bears' head coaching vacancy.

In five years under Trestman, 56, the Alouettes have won two Grey Cups (2009, 2010) and played in three. Quarterback Anthony Calvillo was named the CFL's Most Valuable Player in 2009 and 2010.

But Trestman earned most of his reputation working with quarterbacks in the U.S. He was hired for his first coaching job at the University of Miami in 1981 when he was a law school student and became the quarterbacks coach in 1983, when Bernie Kosar led the Hurricanes to Miami's first national championship. He also has worked with Kosar with the Cleveland Browns (1988-89), the 49ers' Steve Young (1995-96) and he was the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2002 when Rich Gannon was the NFL's MVP.

Trestman also has worked in the offseason preparing quarterbacks for the NFL draft, including Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in 2006. Trestman also has worked with Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, Tem Tebow and Jimmy Clausen.

I'm not sure if it's clumsy wording or if it's precisely the way it's intended, but the Buffalo Bills official website suggested former Bears coach Lovie Smith initiated contact with the club and its search committee "obliged."

The lead to the Bills' website story on Smith's interview is: "He expressed a genuine interest in the Buffalo coaching vacancy and the Bills coaching search committee obliged as they sat down with former Bears head coach Lovie Smith." then confirmed the interview took place Friday.

But Smith wasn't the only coach the Bills interviewed Friday.

The club also interviewed Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone in Arizona.

Smith hasn't commented publicly since the Bears fired him on Monday. The Bills were the first team he was linked to, along with the San Diego Chargers.

Click here to see the Bills' website story.

Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is a hot head coach candidate, and his club will do what they can to keep him.

Arians not only groomed No. 1 pick Andrew Luck successfully, but he also served as interim head coach while coach Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia. Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record and the Colts, after a 2-14 2011 season, is in the playoffs.

"We would try to do whatever we could to keep Bruce, but again, he's his own man and will make his own decisions," Grigson said on NFL Network's "NFL AM" on Friday. "It's kind of a great situation we have here. It's pure speculation, but we'd love to have him back." Arians Sideline.jpg

Arians didn't thrive as a head coach at Temple. But he is a strong coach of the year candidate, given all the challenges the Colts overcame to have one of the best turnarounds in recent NFL history.

Asked by the Indianapolis Star if some team asked him about Arians, Luck playfully said, "Terrible.

"Just terrible.''

But Arians recently made clear that he wouldn't just leave to be a head coach.

"We'll listen to see if it's right for me and my family. I'm not just gonna run away to be a head coach, I'm not gonna do that," Arians told WHIP Radio. "I want to make sure they have a chance to win and see what the situation is, what city it is in.

"But definitely would listen, yes."

During his press conference Tuesday, Bears general manager Phil Emery said he would look at a "wide variety of candidates," mentioning offense, defense, special teams, as well as college and pro backgrounds.

Currently, of the seven known candidates, none are college coaches. Marrone.jpg

But there are indications that Emery have interviewed or scheduled visits with coaches who haven't yet been revealed.

The ones who make the most sense are those in college.

There's a few reasons for that. College coaches don't want to publicize the possibility of leaving their schools because it would raise flags for school administrators and potentially hurt them in recruiting.

Why would a highly-coveted high school player commit to a school if he thinks the head coach isn't there for the long haul?

Plus, Emery's background is rooted in college coaching and scouting, and he's been crisscrossing the country this year, attending many games and checking out future pro prospects.

So who could be the candidates?


Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is in the running for the Bears' head coaching position and others. He's a hot name around the league right now.

McCoy talked to reporters in Denver on Thursday about being a head coaching candidate. He's expected to interview with the Bears on Sunday and other teams over the weekend.

"It's an honor being considered for those jobs, but it goes to show you the type of players we have here and the organization we have here," McCoy told reporters. "As coaches, we're all products of the players we have and the other guys we work with. It's an honor and we'll see what happens."

McCoy said every coach aspires to be in charge of his own team some day.

"Without a doubt," he said. "Everyone has individual goals, as a coach and a player, but it's team-first here and we still have a lot left here. Hopefully, one day I will become a head coach but we still have a lot of football ahead of us here. We'll see what happens down the road."

Bears general manager Phil Emery has requested permission from the Indianapolis Colts to speak to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, the NFL Network reported.

Arians is also reportedly drawing interest from the San Diego Chargers. Arians.jpg

Arians has been successful coordinating the offenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Colts. But Arians has shined this season, stepping in for head coach Chuck Pagano while he was battling leukemia. The Colts, 2-14 in 2011, went 9-3 under Arians, who turned the team back over to Pagano on Christmas Eve.

Arians played quarterback at Virginia Tech, and he coached extensively in college, including six seasons as head coach at Temple. But he was 21-39 there.

In the NFL, though, Arians is noted for his work with quarterbacks. He was Peyton Manning's first quarterbacks coach, and he also worked with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, where he was offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011.

After his contract expired with the Steelers, Arians joined the Colts, and he developed No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck.

Click here for a list Bears candidates and top available head coach options:

lsmith.jpgIt's widely thought that Lovie Smith won't be unemployed for long. The former Bears coach is reportedly interested in the head coaching positions of the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals.

According to, the Bills are expected to interview Smith soon.

The Bears were 81-63 under Smith in nine seasons, including a 10-6 mark in 2012. But the Bears have made only one playoff appearance since 2007.

There are currently six head coach openings in the league other than the Bears', and ESPN initially reported that four team have already contacted Smith.

Bears general manager Phil Emery is expected to meet with New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Thursday, according to a league source.

Pro Football Talk initially reported the imminent meeting.

Carmichael was named offensive coordinator of the Saints in 2009, replacing Doug Marrone who left to become the head coach at Syracuse. Saints head coach Sean Payton calls offensive plays. But Payton was suspended for the 2012 season, and Carmichael handled that duty. Carmichael.jpg

The Saints offense ranked 2nd in the NFL, No. 1 through the air.

Carmichael grew up in Medway, Massachusetts and attended Boston College.

He started his coaching career at New Hampshire, and he worked with Brees in San Diego then joined him in New Orleans.

Emery has already met with or is expected to interview with the following coaches: Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe Decamillis and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements.

Mike McCoy & Peyton Manning.jpgDenver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, a candidate for head coaching positions with the Bears, Cardinals and Bills, received an endorsement from quarterback Peyton Manning.

''He's ready. He's paid his dues,'' Manning told Tom Kensler of the Denver Post. ''Mike's a good leader. He's got some good coaches that have been mentors to him, different coaches that he's worked with in the NFL that I think he's incorporated some of their leadership philosophies and his own philosophy.''

With McCoy as offensive coordinator, the Broncos were fourth in the NFL in total offense in 2012 (398 yards per game) and scored 49 offensive touchdowns, tied for third in the NFL. It helps to have Manning at quarterback. But McCoy also is credited with developing an offense around Tim Tebow last season. With Tebow at quarterback, the Broncos were 31st in passing in 2011, but first in rushing and scored enough points to make the playoffs and win a playoff game. That's something the Bears have done just once in the last six seasons.

''I tell you, he's a worker,'' Manning said of the 40-year-old McCoy. ''We spend a lot of hours together -- early mornings, late nights -- trying to get our game plan in place. There is no substitute for work ethic, and Mike certainly has that. In my opinion, he deserves a shot at one of these head coaching jobs.''

Bears general manager Phil Emery will be able interview Green Bay Packers coordinator Tom Clements for the Bears' head coaching vacancy.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Clements said the Bears have asked and received permission from the Packers to interview him.

In the past, the Packers have thwarted attempts by other teams to interview assistant coaches. But NFL rules prohibit teams from preventing coaches from interviewing for head coaching positions.

Phil Emery (Jan. 2013 presser).jpgThere have been some bizarre press conferences at Halas Hall over the years -- can you believe that Dave Wannstedt actually showed up and addressed the media at the press conference announcing his firing in 1998? It's true.

But the only bizarre aspect of Phil Emery's press conference on the firing of Lovie Smith was how un-Bear-like it was. How un-Lovie-like it was. How rational it was. It was like a real press conference -- with substantive, detailed answers to legitimate questions. Instead of being insulted by a question about the offensive line and making us feel stupid for asking about it, Emery provided a step-by-step analysis of the line's performance and why he did not address it in last year's draft -- the only thing missing were charts and graphs. He gave us more information we didn't know in one 10-minute answer than Lovie Smith did in nine years. I was tempted to ask Emery 'What time is it?' just so I could learn how to build a watch.

And almost everything Emery said Monday -- whether you agreed with him or not -- elicited the same thought, one that has been frustratingly absent from Halas Hall in recent years: This guy was watching the same games we were this season.

Who knows if Emery will pick the right guy? Who knows if Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb were really better than we thought? Who knows if Kellen Davis is salvageable under a new coach? Emery earned the benefit of the doubt simply by treating Chicagoans like football fans who invest their time, money and emotion in his team.

Bears general manager Phil Emery has cast a wide net, and he's planning to interview a lot of head coach candidates.

First off, any assistant on a team that isn't participating in the postseason cannot be blocked from interviewing for a head-coaching vacancy. When and where that assistant interviews, though, can somewhat be influenced by the team that they are under contract to.

But there are rules for when assistants from the 12 clubs in the playoffs can speak to other teams interested in potentially hiring them as a head coach.

Here's a closer look:

January 6 -- Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that have byes in the Wild Card weekend may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games (Jan. 5-6).

January 13 -- Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that won their Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games (Jan. 12-13).

January 27 -- An assistant coach, whose team is participating in the Super Bowl (Feb. 3), who has previously interviewed for another club's head coaching job may have a second interview with such club no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl.

Bears general manager Phil Emery spoke sparingly to reporters during the season, but he provided a lot of clarity on a number of issues Tuesday during his press conference.

But one area he certainly wanted to expound upon was the offensive line. O-Line.jpg

And expound he did... to the tune of 2,234 words.

Given the position and Emery's willingness to really delve into the topic, here's a full transcript of his comments on the beleaguered unit.

"Offensive line, obviously a lot of press. A lot of different thoughts behind that. As a general manager, I have to look at these things, I've got to remove myself from it a little bit. I've got to take the emotion out of it. I'm a fan too. I want to win, just like everybody in this building and everybody on our team. I have to push myself back and try to look at it with an unbiased eye. I don't know if that's always possible. The toughest evaluation that you have, as a general manager and as a scout, is of your own team, because there are emotions involve. I thought of all the available tools. How can we look at this in an objective way?


Like Devin Hester, Roberto Garza and other players, Bears chairman George McCaskey struggled with his emotions when he met Lovie Smith on his last day as Bears coach.

"It was very difficult," McCaskey said Tuesday. "Our family has high regard for Lovie. ... He's been high character all the way through. He's represented the Bears very well, and he's a good coach and an outstanding man.

"I think out of things that we're most grateful to Lovie for is that he didn't just teach our players football. He taught them how to become men. He came in [Monday]. He and I talked. I think it was an emotional situation."

Team president Ted Phillips called Monday "a sad day."

"When I talked to Lovie, there was a sense of sadness," Phillips said. "But there also was a sense of appreciation for what he brought to the club and that from him, too.

"There was a sense of appreciation that he had nine years to get the job done and I know that he failed in bringing a championship to the McCaskey family and that was a genuine feeling. From that standpoint, it is frustrating and it's sad. But at the same time, we're looking forward to moving forward."

Phil Emery (Jan. 2013 presser).jpgBears general manager Phil Emery would prefer to hire a head coach before the Jan. 19 East-West Shrine Game. But outside of that loosely defined parameter, the search for a coach to replace Lovie Smith is wide open.

Anybody who can be a candidate is a candidate. Previous head coaching experience is not necessary. Previous NFL experience is not necessary. Emery is not looking for an offensive guy or a defensive guy. He can be young or old as long as he has good energy. And according to team president Ted Phillips, money is not an object. From current special-teams coach Dave Toub to Super Bowl winning coaches Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher, Emery will consider anyone and everyone.

''[The] No. 1 criteria is excellence in their role,'' Emery said at a press conference Tuesday morning at the Halas Hall auditorium. ''Whatever that role is, we're going to look at a wide variety of candidates. We're going to look offensively. We're going to look defensively. We're going to look special teams. We're going to look NFL. We're going to look college.

''Whatever that person possesses in terms of excellence in combination with the individuals that would comprise his staff will have a lot of weight on that person being right for the Chicago Bears.''

Emery cited the Bears' consistently subpar offensive performances in Lovie Smith's nine seasons as one of the key reasons behind the change. But he said he doesn't necessarily want an offensive or quarterback guru to work with Jay Cutler.

''It's real important to find somebody who can help lead and develop all our players,'' Emery said. ''Jay being our quarterback and that being a franchise position in terms of importance, it's very important that that person either himself or staff-wise has the right person to help Jay develop. But it's also that they help everyone develop.''

The Bears have received permission to speak to Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, Fox Sports reported earlier Tuesday.

One of the league's most respected special teams coordinators, DeCamillis was a candidate when the Jacksonville Jaguars were searching for a head coach last year, although he never interviewed for the vacancy. Joe D.jpg

DeCamillis has a connection with Bears general manager Phil Emery, since both worked together in Atlanta.

DeCamillis joins Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan as confirmed candidates to interview for the Bears opening.


brian54.jpgWhat do the Bears do with linebacker Brian Urlacher now that Lovie Smith is gone?

That was a topic Tuesday at Halas Hall when general manager Phil Emery addressed the media. And it will remain one for the time being with Emery declining to discuss players' contract situations.

Urlacher, 34, is a free agent. He missed the final four games with a hamstring injury after needing knee surgery in the preseason.

"I will tell you that any of the contract situations, I'm not going to speak on," Emery said. "I've said it from the very beginning, to me that's a privacy issue between the player and the team. And those kind of discussions will happen with Brian and his agents and that's where we'll leave it."

Emery, though, did say Urlacher got better during the season. He also knows what the Bears would lose if Urlacher doesn't remain a Bear.

Although his contract expires next season, Jay Cutler's standing as the franchise quarterback of the Bears appears safe.

Both general manager Phil Emery and team chairman George McCaskey provided strong endorsements of Cutler Tuesday at Halas Hall.

In fact, McCaskey had perhaps the ultimate compliment of Cutler.

"I think he's an outstanding leader. He reminds me a lot of George Halas, as a player," McCaskey said. "Outstanding competitor, toughness, and will do anything to win."

Halas, of course, is Papa Bear, a Hall of Famer, a Chicago native, a football pioneer as a player, coach and owner.

But McCaskey didn't stop there.

"Jay Cutler is the most talented quarterback the Bears have here in the last 60 years," McCaskey said. "He's a very good quarterback. He wants to be great, and he needs to be great, and we need to do what we can to achieve that."

So don't expect Cutler to be shipped away like he was by the Denver Broncos.

Emery said the new head coach would have input and didn't say Cutler was off limits. But both he and McCaskey sounded definitive in backing Cutler.

"I see Jay as a franchise quarterback," Emery said. "We have to build around him."

Rick Scuteri // AP Photo

Mark Potash, Adam Jahns, and Sean Jensen live-tweet the Phil Emery press conference regarding the firing of coach Lovie Smith.

Here is audio of the press conference and below is the live-blog of the presser.

Former Super Bowl champion head coach Jon Gruden is one of the hottest candidates available, but he didn't sound too interested in leaving his current job with ESPN's Monday Night Football.

I briefly chatted with Gruden Tuesday morning, as he was preparing to call the Outback Bowl, and I asked him if he would be interested in returning to the NFL, in light of seven openings. Gruden.jpg

"Ah, there's a lot of good candidates out there," Gruden told me. "I'm just focused on the Outback Bowl."

The game is today, between Michigan and South Carolina, in Tampa. Gruden lives in the area.

Gruden's name has been linked with a number of jobs, given his credentials. But indications so far have been lukewarm about his interest in returning to an NFL sideline.

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