Bears Coaching Confidential: Josh McDaniels

Bears Coaching Confidential: Josh McDaniels

With the Bears' beginning their head coaching search this week, NBC Sports Chicago Bears Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Paul Aspan will examine 10 coaching candidates who could be considered by Ryan Pace and team ownership. The first on our list: New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. 

JJ: Alright, let’s begin this list with perhaps the most obvious coaching candidate out there. He has prior head coaching experience, is only 41 years old and has been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for not only Tom Brady, but also Jimmy Garoppolo while winning five Super Bowls. Ladies and gentlemen: Let’s talk Josh McDaniels. 

Paul: McDaniels is the clear “1-seed" for any NFL coaching opening. Teams will be lining up to talk to him and he even has the "Bill O'Brien, get in a sideline shouting match with Tom Brady" corollary going for him. But the Bears would be wasting their time for a number of reasons:

1. Does he even want to leave? I wouldn't. Go out, interview, get yourself another nice little raise, and then ride Brady's coattails until he retires. He may be Bill Belichick's successor in waiting, but even if Brady steps aside in the next few years, I'm not so sure Belichick rides off into the sunset - or upstairs into the front office - when that happens. Some guys are just career coordinators, so maybe he's just Patriots OC for life. Which brings me to...

2. The esteemed Belichick NFL coaching tree. Romeo Crennel (28-55), Eric Mangini (33-47), McDaniels (11-17) & Bill O'Brien (31-33). To be fair to O'Brien, he's had three winning (9-7) seasons and it might have been a different story for him if DeShaun Watson didn't tear his ACL, but two of the last three years O'Brien has gone into Week 1 with one starting QB and by the end of that same game he's made a change (Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett 2015; Tom Savage/Watson this season). There's some debate as to whether or not he actually wanted to start Watson from the get-go and was overruled, but those are some millennial-level commitment issues. Getting a great offensive mind for Trubisky would be ideal, but that's not necessarily a recipe for success as a head coach. Exhibit A....

3. McDaniels started 6-0 in Denver and went straight down from there. To the point that a lot of Broncos fans are still convinced he was a Patriots double agent. Sure, Belichick bombed in Cleveland before building a dynasty in New England, but that's the exception to the coaching retread rule. Crennel & Mangini each got two shots and got worse. And let's not forget “offensive genius" Chip Kelly who had some early success before bottoming out of the league.

As far as job appeal, I think the Bears are right at the top. New York is New York, but I do think the Bears job is more appealing than the Giants with an aging Eli Manning/ move on from Eli conundrum, high draft pick or not. Indy with his former pupil Jacoby Brissett? 

Bringing it back to the Bears - do they have to save face by going thru the motions and taking a shot at the most popular girl at the dance? 

I say rule him out for the simple reason that he's the guy that's responsible for the Jay Cutler era in Chicago by making the Cutty trade one of his first moves in Denver. And, oh yeah - he drafted Tim Tebow in the first round.

JJ: Another glass-half-empty point of view here: Couldn’t anyone successfully run an offense operated by the greatest quarterback in NFL history? But while Paul, you made some valid points here, McDaniels has a lot more going for him than against him. 

I would posit that McDaniels almost certainly learned something from his short stint as the Broncos’ head coach -- things to do better, things not to do next time, etc. You can poke holes in any of the resumes of the coaches the Bears could consider. 

As for the Belichick coaching tree: Mangini didn’t succeed in his second coaching stop, yes, but that was with the Cleveland Browns. Crennell? Also has the stench of the Browns on his resume. O’Brien’s Texans teams have only been a hair above average, but he’s had to work with quarterbacks off the scrap heap like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage before DeShaun Watson came in, lit up the league and cruelly tore his ACL. I think he could be the most successful coach off Belichick’s tree if paired with the right quarterback. 

The same could be said for McDaniels, who primarily worked with Kyle Orton as his starting quarterback with the Broncos. Yes, he drafted Tebow, but he also had the guts to come into a new job in his mid-30’s and trade away Cutler (sorry to bring that one up again) and Brandon Marshall (a notorious “bad” locker room guy). Things quickly went downhill for him in Denver but I’d be intrigued to see what he could build with a young, talented quarterback already in place in Chicago. 

That being said, there likely will be plenty of competition for McDaniels. The Colts already put in a request to interview him. But would he go anywhere with a general manager already in place? Would he demand full control of the roster to move away from New England (neither Indianapolis nor Chicago would fit, then)? 

So maybe Paul’s point that he’s not worth the time has some validity. But he’s at least worth some consideration given his impressive credentials.

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

The 2020 NFL Combine will go a long way in determining the final draft grade for each of the 337 prospects participating in on-field drills. General managers and scouts want to see whether their athletic testing matches the traits noted on film. If a player runs faster than he plays, scouts will question his on-field instincts and overall football IQ. In the alternative, if he runs slower than he plays, questions about level of competition and the ability to 'win' on the NFL level will be raised.

But in order to understand whether or not a prospect is having a good performance, you first have to know what the NFL is looking for as its minimum time/result required for each position and drill.

NFL Hall-of-Fame executive Gil Brandt, one of the legendary draft minds in the sport, shared what has become the standard breakdown each team uses when assessing a player's 40 time, 3-cone drill, broad jump, vertical jump and more.

Check it out:

Keep this page bookmarked this week and refer back to this chart as your favorite Bears prospects try to run and jump their way to Chicago. 

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2020 mock draft sends Bears OL, CB in 2nd round


2020 mock draft sends Bears OL, CB in 2nd round

The 2020 NFL Draft is front and center with the NFL Combine kicking off this week in Indianapolis. The week-long underwear Olympics represents the real start of draft season for the casual fan. Two months from now, we'll find out who the next class of Bears will be, and many of those players will make their case to GM Ryan Pace and the rest of the team's decision-makers over the next several days.

With the unofficial start of draft season comes the need to review the 2020 mock draft landscape. Pace has a chance to add two starters in the second round, and it's important to get a feel for which players could be within reach when Chicago picks at Nos. 43 and 50.

In Joe Marino's latest mock draft for The Draft Network, the Bears add a legitimate starting interior lineman and a cornerback who can challenge to do the same.

At No. 43, Marino sends Chicago Matt Hennessy, the standout center from Temple who can serve in the same capacity for the Bears if Nagy decides to kick Cody Whitehair back to guard. Hennessy was arguably the most impressive offensive lineman at the 2020 Senior Bowl. He routinely won his one-on-one reps and looked every bit the part of a decade-long starter in the middle of an NFL offensive line. 

What makes Hennessy so appealing is his ability to play either center or guard. We saw last season what a position change can do (both good and bad) along the interior of Chicago's offensive line, so depending on what the long-term outlook is for James Daniels and Whitehair, a player like Hennessy can fit any outcome. He'd be a great selection.

At No. 50, Chicago takes Mississippi State cornerback, Cameron Dantzler. This is the first mock draft that has Dantzler pegged to the Bears and it probably won't be the last that has Pace using one of his two second-rounders on a cornerback. The release of Prince Amukamara last week will move cornerback higher on the team's priority list.

Dantzler started 22 games for Mississippi State and totaled five interceptions over the last three seasons. At 6-2, 185 pounds, he brings good height and length to the pros. He projects like a fit in almost any defensive system and could come off the board much higher than the average fan is expecting at this point. How he performs in the athletic testing at the NFL Combine will be critical in his final evaluation. 

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