Just because the Bears and Lovie Smith didnt go deep into the postseason doesnt mean the search for his successor wont.Look for the stream of news, near-news and faux news to go on for a while as far the Bears coaching search. General manager Phil Emerys stress of the word thorough says that this will not be a hurried process.The last time the Bears rushed through a head-coaching search was 20 years ago when Dave Wannstedt was the hot get and Michael McCaskey made landing Wannstedt a mission statement. Dont look for brother George pushing Emery to follow the same methodology.Candidate-watching: One with a Cutler connectionColleague Dave Zangaro at CSNHouston.com is busy with a playoff team this week but shot me a note regarding an intriguing name in the coaching spectrum:Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.Dennison cant be talked to about jobs until either the Texans are eliminated from the playoffs or during the off-week before the Super Bowl. And he rightly brushed off head-coach questions this week.But heres the intriguing deal with Dennison: He may have arguably the best resume of any candidate under consideration.He was Jay Cutlers offensive coordinator in Denver when Cutler was having his one Pro Bowl season. That was under Mike Shanahan and with Jeremy Bates as quarterbacksreceivers coach, so Cutler was raised by committee.More to the overall, Dennison was a linebacker with the Broncos for eight seasons. Then he was the Broncos special-teams coach, offensive line coach and coordinator before joining former teammate Gary Kubiaks staff in Houston.If youre keeping score, that would be experience in all three on-field phases of football. And given the development of Matt Schaub along with the 2011 scramble with Matt Leinart and T.J. Yates after Schaub was injured, Dennison is nothing if not anadapter.Dont put the name into the Bears mix just yet. There are enough of those swirling around. But if working with Cutler is a job requirement, Dennison is the only coordinator whos still coordinating after time with Cutler.
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace is having what many believe is his best offseason since taking the job in 2015, but after three seasons and only 14 wins, he needs a big year in 2018 to justify the confidence ownership has in him.
According to a recent breakdown of all 32 general managers, Pace ranks among the worst decision-makers in the league.
No. 23: Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears
There’s only so much you can accomplish in one spring. The problem is that Pace let himself accumulate so many needs to begin with. He needs Trubisky and Nagy to springboard a fourth-year turnaround.
The rankings didn't include six new GM hires, which makes Pace's positioning even more troubling.
Even though the Bears haven't seen wins on the field, Pace has done a solid job through three draft classes and appears to have the right coaching staff in place. His first hire, John Fox, was a calculated move by a rookie general manager to have an experienced football guy to lean on. Now, several offseasons later, the team is starting to take on his identity.
Despite all the talent Pace has added through the draft and the slow but steady transformation of the team's overall culture, it's a win-now business and if his blueprint doesn't start producing more wins than losses, it will be hard to justify more time and patience for his plan to develop.
The NFL Draft is a necessary evil if you’re a veteran player, especially if your team just drafted two players at the position you play and your contract doesn’t provide much job security beyond the upcoming season.
That’s the spot Danny Trevathan is in now. The Bears nabbed Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick in April's NFL Draft, then used their fourth-round selection on Joel Iyiegbuniwe. Both players are inside linebackers; the Bears could net $6.4 million in cap savings if they release Trevathan following the 2018 season.
Trevathan, though, isn’t approaching 2018 like the writing is on the wall for it to be his final year in Chicago.
“It depends on how you look at it,” Trevathan said. “For me, it is what it is, (Smith’s) a good player and he’s going to help us out on defense. You just want to go ahead and do your job and keep working. He’s a good player, just like we’ve all got some good players out here. But he’s … we got the right guy to fit our defense. He’s working his tail off and he fits in with our linebacker group.”
That Trevathan answered a question about the decision to draft Smith, specifically, in that manner isn’t surprising. The 28-year-old is one of the most respected leaders in the Bears locker room, the kind of guy who sets the tone for the rest of the defense (in other words: Exactly what you want out of a veteran inside linebacker). Trevathan offered plenty of praise for Smith not only as a player, but for how he’s approached his first few practices wearing a Bears helmet.
“He's quick, instinctive, learns well,” Trevathan said. “He's just out here trying to get better. That's what I like about him. He's calling the call sheets out. He's learning the plays. That's what you want in him. You want him to come out here and be humble. You want him to work hard. I see that in his eyes, coming out here. It's a lot of lights on him. It's a lot of attention on him. But he's finding himself out here, coming out here and trying to make some plays.”
The reality, though, is that Smith may not be the one to take Trevathan’s job, if it comes to that. The best-case outlook for Iyiegbuniwe would appear to be that the Bears found a fourth-round steal who can pair with Smith as Vic Fangio’s long-term inside linebacking tandem. If “Iggy” proves to be that guy, then Trevathan could indeed find his place in Chicago in jeopardy.
And, too, even if Iyiegbuniwe doesn’t quickly develop into a starting-caliber player, the Bears could still decide to cut ties with Trevathan if Smith proves to be elite.
The best way for Trevathan to make sure he’s still here in a year, though, is to play a full 16-game season — something he hasn’t done since 2013, and he's missed 11 games since signing a four-year deal in 2016.
But when Trevathan is on the field, his speed and physicality are a critical component to the Bears’ success. That won't change in 2018, at the least.
"(He has) that veteran experience," coach Matt Nagy said. "We went against Danny when I was in Kansas City and he was at Denver so we always knew what kind of player he was. He has the demeanor to him, a focus, he's very serious when he's out there on the field and he'll have a great mentorship, he'll be a great mentor for Roquan."