After winning 4 of their last 6 games, the hottest topic regarding the Chicago Bears this week seems to be “Can they keep Adam Gase?” It’s a fair conversation to have as Gase is presumed to be one of the top head coaching candidates to fill any of a number NFL openings for next season. In 9 games, Gase has the Bears offense looking as respectable as any with Jay Cutler playing his best football since coming to Chicago. He was also very close to being the 49ers head coach after last season, had San Francisco’s higher-ups not been so sold on this guy…
Vacancies across the league already include Tennessee and Miami, unless Dan Campbell continues to work wonders. Other teams that are expected or rumored to be looking for a new head coach include the Colts, Saints, Lions, Browns, Chargers, Rams, and the aforementioned 49ers. I wouldn’t anticipate this to be appealing to Gase, but there are several major conference openings in college football as well. The point is, there are plenty of options for Gase to move up in the football world and Bears fans shouldn’t be shocked to see Cutler working with yet another offensive coordinator next season.
Is it possible the Bears will do everything in their power to keep Gase? Sure. They could make Gase an offer similar to the Cowboys’ Jason Garrett deal, making him the highest paid coordinator in football with assurances he’ll be the next head coach after John Fox is done. In 2008, Garrett was making $3 million as an assistant waiting in the wings behind then Cowobys coach Wade Phillips. League rules prevented Jerry Jones to name Garrett as an heir to take over for Phillips, but it was the worst kept secret in football.
The likelihood of Gase staying in Chicago after this season isn’t particularly probable, but one could be confident Fox will have a strong candidate in place to fill the opening. After all, Fox did bring the best two available coordinators with him after taking the Bears job, Gase and Vic Fangio.
What do Fox’s OC options look like for the 2016 season?
Current Chargers Head Coach
With the team’s likely move to Los Angeles and another underwhelming season, the Chargers organization could be looking for a fresh face and a new voice in the locker room. The Bears interviewed Mike McCoy in 2013 before he took the Chargers job. McCoy had just reshaped the Broncos offense from accommodating Tim Tebow in 2011 to Peyton Manning in 2012, with Fox as his boss and Gase as QB coach. Fox and McCoy are already very familiar with each other. Gase has also credited McCoy on multiple occasions for being one of the better influences on his coaching style.
Current Bears Quarterbacks Coach
The transition for Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator, on paper, looks seamless. Loggains is already working closely with Cutler on a daily basis and would essential continue using Gase’s playbook. He isn’t inexperienced when it comes to play-calling either, as he served as Titans OC in 2012-2013 under Mike Munchak. The concern, however, is that Loggains could leave with Gase if he’s hired elsewhere.
Former Titans Head Coach
Ken Whisenhunt keeps getting head coaching jobs because he continuously gets it done as an offensive coordinator. Before his 1 and a half year Titans tenure, Whisenhunt called plays as McCoy’s OC in San Diego in 2013. The Chargers had improved from 31st in total offense to 5th with Whisenhunt on the sidelines. The Chargers also ranked 4th in touchdowns and 5th in passing yards that season as Ryan Matthews had his best year rushing with 1,255 yards.
Current Dolphins Offensive Coordinator
This really depends on what the Miami Dolphins chooses to do about their head coaching situation. If Campbell drops the interim tag, I would expect Bill Lazor to either stay put or leave for a head coaching position (although unlikely). Lazor has said that he let down former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin before his dismissal in October. Since then, the Dolphins have played like the high powered offensive team they were expected to be. Lazor runs a quick-hitting read offense works similarly to Gase’s current system. It operates best when the running backs are the central focus. Case in point, Lamar Miller: 124 total yards per game and and 9 touchdowns since Philbin’s firing with a 3-2 record.
Current Colts Offensive Coordinator
Chuck Pagano’s fate in Indianapolis has felt all but sealed as his Colts team has gone from predicted Super Bowl contenders to a playoff battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rob Chudzinski has run up and down the ranks of offensive coaching staffs since coming into the league in 2004. “Chud” is best known for innovating the original 2-TE system and helping Cam Newton breakout during his rookie season with the most passing yards of his career so far in 2011. Chudzinski has recently taken over as Colts OC following Pep Hamilton’s scapegoat dismissal in October. He’s a play-caller with head coaching chops but probably a little out-of-the-box in terms of schemes for the Bears and their current path. You can’t help but notice though, how good the Bears offense has looked when utilizing both Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller in recent weeks.
Have another potential Offensive Coordinator candidate in mind for the Bears? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.