Even without a general manager in place, the Chicago Bears have already begun their search for the club’s next head coach. According to multiple reports, the Bears have requested interviews with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Gase began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at LSU in 2000. In 2003, he entered the NFL as a scouting assistant for the Detroit Lions. He was promoted to offensive assistant in 2005 and was named Detroit’s QB coach in 2007. In 2008, Gase was an offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers.
In 2009, Gase was hired by Josh McDaniels, then the head coach of the Broncos, to be the WR coach in Denver. Gase worked for a full season with current Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall in 2009, a year in which Marshall caught 101 passes for 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns.
That was also the year Marshall wore out his welcome in Denver, with on- and off-the-field antics that led to him being traded to Miami.
Gase was promoted to QB coach for the Broncos in 2011, when he worked with both Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, before being named offensive coordinator in 2013.
As OC the past two years, Gase has led a Denver offense that finished 1st in scoring in 2013 and 2nd in scoring in 2014. In fact, the Broncos’ 37.9 points per game last year set an all-time NFL record.
Gase is a hot name this offseason, as both the Falcons and 49ers have requested interviews with him. Because the Broncos have a first-round bye, the Bears would be able to speak with Gase through this Sunday. He’ll then be off limits for as long as Denver remains in the playoffs, unless they go to the Super Bowl, which would allow the Bears a second interview the week following the AFC Championship, no later than Jan. 25.
That said, there is plenty of concern with Gase. First, he’s never before been an NFL head coach. That isn’t a huge hindrance, as the Bears have never before hired a head coach with previous head-coaching experience, but it does speak to the level of risk inherent with Gase, who at 36 would become one of the youngest head coaches in the league.
Additionally, his success in Denver is very much the product of having Peyton Manning as his quarterback – similar to Mike McCoy, who has failed to bring the San Diego Chargers to the playoffs in his two years as head coach.
And if the Bears select Gase, after employing Matt Cavanaugh the past two years, they will have cornered the market on former Tim Tebow QB coaches, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Todd Bowles played eight years as an NFL safety, seven for the Washington Redskins. After retiring in 1993, he was hired as part of the player personnel staff for the Green Bay Packers in 1995. Bowles then went on to hold various defensive coaching positions for Morehouse College, Grambling State, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and, currently, as defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals.
As DC in Arizona the past two years, Bowles has had a lot of success. The Cardinals allowed the seventh fewest points per game in 2013 (20.3) and the fifth fewest points per game this year (18.7).
Yet there are cracks in Bowles’ armor that many are overlooking. First, the Bears this season had more sacks (39) than the Cardinals (35). Arizona also forced just one more turnover (25) than the Bears (24). Finally, the Cardinals finished 24th in total defense this year, allowing 368.2 yards per game. And like Gase, Bowles has never before been an NFL head coach.
Reportedly every NFL team with a head-coaching vacancy has contacted Bowles, so there will be serious competition for his services. NFL rules state assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that win their wild card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of divisional playoff games on Jan. 11.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.