Let’s watch a highlight of Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist Brian Urlacher get the best of Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre:
Brian Urlacher could do it to any QB. Congratulations on being named a Hall of Fame finalist, 54! 🐻 pic.twitter.com/4UpOkPIhvC
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 3, 2018
Urlacher is one of 15 candidates who are finalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2018. The legendary Bears linebacker is joined by Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, and Steve Hutchinson as the only players to make it on the first ballot. You can check out the list in its entirety here.
Onward, to an Urlacher-less team in search of answers…
- Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times) wonders if the Bears’ roster as a whole will sway the top coaching candidates toward the Bears. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky will be the driving force in the Bears’ coaching search, but the pieces around him on offense are limited. Jordan Howard is a nice piece, Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen have upside, and Charles Leno Jr. hasn’t missed a snap since 2015. The rest? The wide receiver corps needs to be totally revamped, the offensive line needs to be settled after an injury ravaged year (or two), and the tight end position was wildly inconsistent. These are all things candidates should be asking GM Ryan Pace about when the interviews are taking place.
- Over at Pro Football Weekly, Arthur Arkush lists the Bears’ opening as the fourth most appealing of the six jobs currently open. Chicago isn’t necessarily a lost cause for a coach on the rise, especially with defensive pieces like Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan holding down the front seven and a pair of safeties (Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos) solidifying the back end. But the Bears job would look a lot more appealing if Trubisky’s play was a bit steadier during his rookie season.
- Jordan Howard’s placement on this list could be a selling point for coaching candidates on the offensive and defensive side of the ball alike, especially if he makes the Pro Bowl again:
Rushing yards per game over the last two seasons:
Ezekiel Elliott: 104.6
Le'Veon Bell: 94.8
Jordan Howard: 78.5
LeSean McCoy: 77.6
Jay Ajayi: 74.0
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 3, 2018
- Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) writes that the Bears must get Trubisky involved in the coach-hiring process. Pace trusted his future to Trubisky’s growth and the two will now have contracts that run on the same timeline. Having gone all-in on Trubisky during the 2017 NFL Draft, it would make sense to get Pace, Trubisky, and whoever the next head coach is on the same page and working in the same direction.
- The Bears could have some crowded interview rooms with Pace, Trubisky, Ted Phillips, George McCaskey all possibly weighing in. John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago wonders what kind of impact this collaborative process will have on the search. Collaborative measures are good. Sounding boards are good. Checks and balances are good. But at what level is it too much? It’ll still be Pace’s call, I suppose, but I won’t argue with anyone who feels leery of the idea of two non-football guys in on the biggest decision the head football guy has to make.
- One of the biggest decisions Pace has to make regarding on-field personnel is whether or not to bring back cornerback Kyle Fuller. The free-agent-to-be is excited about hitting the open market, but Zack Pearson (Scout.com’s Bear Report) writes that Fuller has left the door open for a return. The Bears are basically at a point where they can’t afford to let Fuller walk away for nothing, because there’s a distinct possibility the team could lose both of its primary starting corners. That would leave Marcus Cooper, Bryce Callahan, and Cre’von LeBlanc at the top of the depth chart – which is less than ideal.
- It’s easy to overlook, but John Fox’s firing has also left his assistants in limbo. NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo reports that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is speaking with Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase about joining his staff. Garafolo tweets what his job would be is unclear and that nothing is final. Loggains was the Bears’ quarterbacks coach when Gase was the Bears’ offensive coordinator in 2015.
- Jon Gruden is inching his way back to the sideline. The Associated Press reports Gruden had a productive interview with Raiders owner Mark Davis about his return to the organization and said there is a “good chance” he’ll be back as the team’s head coach.
- Shortly after Bruce Arians retired, his quarterback followed him in walking away from the game. Carson Palmer announced his retirement on Tuesday, wrapping up a brilliant, yet star-crossed football career. Palmer was a Heisman Trophy winner in 2002 at USC who was the No. 1 pick by the Bengals to start his NFL voyage. He led the Bengals to playoff appearances, looked to have flamed out with the Raiders, before finding new life with the Cardinals. Palmer finished his career with three Pro Bowl appearances, 46,247 passing yards, 294 touchdowns, and a 92-88-1 record as a starter.
- And go figure, Marvin Lewis – Palmer’s first NFL coach – outlasted the quarterback’s NFL career after signing an extension to remain Cincinnati’s head coach.