Bears

Is Sullivan right for the job?

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Is Sullivan right for the job?

No less than 20 potential names have been thrown into the proverbial hat to become the Bears' next head coach. Some candidates already eliminated themselves, like former Eagles head coach Andy Reid who agreed to a 5-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday or Falcons' offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter who publicly stated he will remain in Atlanta with a pay increase attached to it.

Others in the running will be eliminated for various reasons moving forward, but Bears GM Phil Emery likely has about five candidates he is seriously considering.

It is not uncommon for general managers to acquire a Rolodex of quality coaches who may be future head coaching material during their scouting travels. Their file continues to grow as they gain experience as their careers progress. Its similar to the numerous notes created on players, as coaching files appear to be pretty deep and very thorough as well.

The latest candidate is Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan who recently underwent a six hour interview conducted by Emery and the Bears' brass. Sullivan has been coaching since 1993 when he started at Humboldt State while earning his Masters degree. He formerly played as a defensive back at Army where he completed his Bachelor of Science degree and became a graduate of U.S. Army Airborne, Ranger and Air Assault schools.

If you want tough head coaches, Sullivan may be your guy, as he can beat offensive principles into players with his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Plus, Sullivan has spent time with accomplished head coaches during his career. In 1997, he worked at Youngstown State under former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, where his team won the Division I AA National Championship. Sullivan broke into the NFL as a defensive quality-control coach in Jacksonville in 2002, later becoming the offensive assistant in 2003.

He spent time there with Tom Coughlin, who brought him to New York to coach wide receivers after Coughlin agreed to be signing as the Giants' head coach in 2004. Sullivan later became Eli Manning's quarterback coach during the 2010 season.

Sullivan not only served under a very accomplished head coach in Coughlin, but also alongside a seasoned coaching staff like offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride while winning two Super Bowl Championships with the Giants before moving on to Tampa Bay in 2012. Under Sullivan, Tampa Bay finished with a top nine overall offense in the NFL, ranking 10th in pass and 15th in rushing offense.

Much of what Sullivan has to accomplish with the Bears surrounds quarterback Jay Cutler. Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano said the same concerning Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman.

What I can say is a 4,000-yard passer, a touchdown record there are a lot of things you say, Wow. Are there things that frustrate you? Yeah.

Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowls in this league? I do. So, I hope that happens here. But again, at the end of the day, I have to evaluate everything before I can say thats what were doing.," Schiano said. "The one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback so I want to have as many good players on our football team as we can at every single position. Its a little different in the NFL.

The truth of the matter is, Freeman was all over the map in 2012 with a great offensive line and great weapons around him with a first time play caller in Sullivan. Plus, that is not exactly a ringing endorsement about quarterback Freeman from Schiano, which is supposed to be what Sullivan was hired to rectify.

Sullivan is a first-time play caller with no head coaching experience or track record at all, which leads you to believe he is qualified enough to be the Bears' next head coach?

Next.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel.  Kap is happy that Mitch Trubisky played ok and John Fox’s team lost again.  The panel disagrees.

Plus Leonard Floyd doesn’t have an ACL tear…. Yet. Should the Bears shut him down even if he gets good news?

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

With Sunday’s game on the line and the Bears owning the football at their 17-yard line, the offense needed a drive for field goal position to tie the Detroit Lions. But rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, with 1:03 on the clock, wasn’t thinking 3 points. He was thinking touchdown and a win, and the huddle knew it.

“I think that's his mindset all the time,” said guard Josh Sitton, who recognized something familiar in Trubisky’s face that Sitton had seen over his years with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. “He's a play-maker, he's got all the confidence in the world in himself and the guys around him.

“You can just see it on his face. I don't think he really says anything, he doesn't really need to say anything, you can kind of see it, by that look in his eyes. He's got what it takes to be a great player in this league.”

It was not intended to be any even remote comparison with Rodgers. More than eyes are involved in that. But while the drive Sunday ended in failure in the form of a missed field goal, something was noted in the process.

The 13-play drive for the Bears’ first touchdown Sunday was the longest sustained by the offense under Trubisky. And it was a statement possession for an offense that had not scored a first-quarter touchdown in nine prior games.

But if a negative among the many Trubisky positives was the fourth time in five situations that Trubisky has failed to direct a game-winning or –tying drive, which goes a long way to answering why the Bears are 2-4 under him. Actually the number of come-up-short drives is more than those if you count things like a three-and-out at Baltimore in regulation before Trubisky led a seven-play drive for a winning overtime field goal.

Still, looking a little deeper, Trubisky has gotten progressively “closer” to being the kind of finisher that the Bears have needed for decades. At the very least, Trubisky is keeping drives alive longer and longer, if not ending them with points. In these situations:

Vs.                     4th qtr/OT situation

Minnesota         1 play, interception ends potential winning drive

Baltimore          3 plays, punt, regulation ends in tie

                           7 plays, game-winning FG in OT

Carolina            Game already decided

New Orleans    2 plays, interception ends drive for tie

Green Bay        5 plays, ball over on downs on drive for tie

Detroit               11 plays, missed FG for tie

Within the huddle, the team confidence in Trubisky and vice versa has clearly grown, regardless of outcome, and that is something the offense did not consistently have in Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen or even Josh McCown.

“[Trubisky] is just growing and growing and you just see it,” Sittyon said. “You saw the talent right away and he just keeps ... the nuances of the game, he just keeps learning and learning. He gives you all the confidence in the world as a guy in the locker room and on the field, in the huddle.

“He has that look in his eye where you're thinking 'All right, he's going to get the job done.’”

Staff addition? Probably not but Bears have an opening

Taking a morning-after look around the NFL after the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Something to probably dismiss but at least worth mentioning… .

The Denver Broncos on Monday fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the same Mike McCoy who handled the Denver offense as John Fox’s OC. Don’t expect anything in-season, certainly not at this point, but the situation does offer an interesting future option if somehow Fox sees the fourth and final year of his contract, even looking further down the coaching road irrespective of Fox’s presence.

McCoy was ousted from a foundering Broncos situation, presumably over not being able to make anything much out of Trevor Simian

McCoy, who was the mix of candidates and interviewed to succeed Lovie Smith back in 2012, wouldn’t necessarily be brought in as offensive coordinator by Fox or anyone else. What about the role of “consultant” or “assistant head coach” added to the Bears offensive staff?

The Bears have neither position on the staff currently, and haven’t had an assistant head coach since Rod Marinelli had that as part of his title from 2009-2012 under Lovie Smith. Marinelli, like McCoy, had been a head coach as well.

Notably, Fox kept McCoy on his staffs when Fox was hired both in Carolina and Denver, a good measure of Fox’s take on McCoy’s offensive-coaching skills. Fox added the job of passing-game coordinator to McCoy’s duties as quarterbacks coach with Carolina in 2007-08. Since then McCoy coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Also notably, perhaps in the other direction, Fox might have brought McCoy to Chicago after the latter was fired as Chargers head coach after last season. That didn’t happen, possibly because McCoy instead wanted a full OC position, which wasn’t open with Loggains in place.

Offensive consultants aren’t necessarily staff bloating; they have been referred to as “coaches for coaches.” Bruce Arians brought in longtime OC Tom Moore when Arians became Arizona Cardinals head coach (following Phil Emery’s decision to go with Marc Trestman over Arians). Moore previously served as offensive coordinator, then senior offensive coordinator, then offensive consultant through the Peyton Manning years in Indianapolis. Moore subsequently became offensive consultant for the Jets (2011) and Tennessee Titans (2012), the latter stint while Loggains was offensive coordinator.

Longtime offensive line coach Jim McNally has been a “consultant” with the Jets (2011-12) and Bengals (2012-this season). Randy Brown was a kicking consultant working under Bears special teams coaches in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron regimes, going on to work under John Harbaugh in Philadelphia and Baltimore.