- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery on Thursday characterized his state of mind during the team's search for a head coach as "fast, furious and thorough" after conducting the initial round of interviews with prospective candidates.
Despite having a target date in mind for the hire, Emery stressed the importance of remaining patient throughout the process.
"A position like this, we've reached out to all the people, and we've had a lot of people reach out to us," Emery told WBBM-AM 780. "We're working through that, and like good scouts do, also making sure we do our homework and know the candidates well. It's not just an interview, it's a thorough evaluation process."
According to sources, Emery was scheduled to conduct an interview with New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. on Thursday. On Wednesday, Emery met with Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan in Atlanta, according to a source, who also said Emery interviewed Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong on Tuesday in Atlanta.
Emery will meet with Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis on Saturday at 10 a.m., according to sources, before heading to Denver to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday.
"We're working through this process," Emery said. "We're gonna listen to everybody that is in front of us in terms of interviews. We're also looking through the candidates that we haven't talked to and ones that have expressed interest in coming to the Bears and helping us win a championship."
One candidate Chicago wants to discuss the coaching vacancy with is Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements, who confirmed the Bears' successful request for permission to speak with him. Because the Packers are in the playoffs, the Bears can't interview Clements until after Green Bay's NFC wild-card game Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.
For Emery, that's where patience enters the equation.
"The NFL has rules in terms of coaches being in the playoff progression. So we have to wait that out a little bit," Emery said. "Obviously [there's] a lot of impact on who wins and loses those games in terms of if they fall out of the playoffs; there's a lot more flexibility setting up the schedule to talk to them. If they're in it, we have to be very respectful of the teams. We request permission, and we look for their guidance in terms of telling us when is best for them to not cause disruptions in their practice plans and their preparation as they move into the playoffs."
If Clements is truly the favorite in this derby, a Packers win could drastically affect Chicago's timetable for making the hire. As it stands, the earliest the Bears can speak with Clements is next week.
Even then, NFL rules allow only one interview "at any location acceptable to the employer club and at a time that is convenient for the employer club."
If the Packers advance, they can allow Clements to interview after that game, and "prior to the conclusion of divisional playoff games."
League policy allows any potential second interview to occur during the week between conference championships and the Super Bowl. It's important to note that the Packers blocked a potential Clements interview for offensive coordinator with Chicago back in 2010, when the Bears hired Mike Martz.
"I have a target date in my mind. Obviously, the sooner we hire a coach, the more he can get involved right away in terms of completing his staff and assisting and working with us in the all-star game evaluations," Emery said. "So that would be the ideal situation. Will that happen? Hey, we're just gonna have to take each step day by day and work through it, make sure that we've interviewed all the candidates thoroughly and checked their backgrounds thoroughly before we come to a final decision."