Can Dunbar Be a Good Coordinator?

If the Chicago Bears are interested in coaches still in the playoffs, Minnesota D-line boss Karl Dunbar may be one of them. Vikings expert Tim Yotter informs us whether or not Dunbar is ready to be a coordinator.

It was last Thursday when former Bills interim coach Perry Fewell informed the Bears he would be joining the Giants as their new defensive coordinator, instead of coming to Chicago in the same capacity.

The announcement had to have come as a surprise to Bears coach Lovie Smith, as Fewell was once his defensive backs coach in 2005. Long considering the front runner for the job, it has been speculated that Fewell chose the Big Apple over the Windy City because New York coach Tom Coughlin won a Super Bowl recently and has plenty of job security, while Smith might as well be a lame duck even though he still has two years left on his deal. That looks to be why Jeremy Bates, Jay Cutler's first choice to be his new offensive coordinator, decided to follow Pete Carroll from USC to the Seahawks instead of coming to Chicago.

No fresh candidates have been officially identified since Fewell said no to Smith and yes to Coughlin, which means the Bears may have their collective eye on one or two assistant coaches still working in the playoffs.

Colts defensive backs coach Alan Williams could very well be one of them since he's a Cover 2 guy and, like Smith, cut his teeth under Tony Dungy, but another name to consider is Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. Not only does he command the best front four in the NFL – D-tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, D-ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards – but, like Fewell, has already coached in Chicago before, running the D-line on Smith's first staff back in 2004. Since both Indianapolis and Minnesota are still alive in the postseason, per league rules, neither Williams nor Dunbar will be available to interview until Monday.

However, according to Tim Yotter, the publisher if, Dunbar may not be interested in a defensive coordinator post, regardless of his qualifications.

Karl Dunbar and DT Tommie Harris
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

"Dunbar would be an interesting hire as a defensive coordinator, and I thought he might receive some consideration when the Vikings lost Mike Tomlin to the Steelers after the 2006 season," said Yotter. "But the key is whether or not Dunbar has aspirations to move up to a coordinator spot. I'm not sure that's the case. He is good at what he does with the defensive linemen, and he might be content staying in that role."

Dunbar's situation sounds a lot like that of Bears D-line coach Rod Marinelli, who may have been offered the gig as defensive coordinator by Smith following Chicago's 7-9 campaign but appears to have said no. After a disastrous three years as head coach of the Lions, which included the only 0-16 season in NFL history, Marinelli loved the idea of just being a position guru once again. Some people are simply born to be sergeants and not meant to be generals.

Nevertheless, Yotter believes Dunbar possesses the characteristics necessary to be a defensive coordinator, despite the fact that he has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal in Minnesota.

"He has the respect of his players on the defensive line, and a few linemen have told me how much they learned from him from a technique standpoint," Yotter said. "He deserves at least some of the credit for leading a defensive line that has been part of the defense that led the league in sacks, but there is no question he also has a lot of talent to work with, from Jared Allen to Kevin Williams to Pat Williams to Ray Edwards. He also has decent depth with Jimmy Kennedy and Brian Robison rotating in."

However, it's worth noting that in six coaching stops going all the way back to 1998, Dunbar has never risen above the rank of defensive line boss.

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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