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Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Bears' top candidates: Bates and Fewell?

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We focused Tuesday on the contradictory messages emanating from Chicago’s hour-long news conference at Halas Hall. Status quo or major changes? You decide.

Now it’s time to cast our gaze forward at the Bears’ search for new offensive and defensive coordinators. Here’s what I can tell you so far: For what it’s worth, there are three names circulating for the offensive job and one prominent name on defense.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Bears have already reached out to Southern California offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who was Jay Cutler’s quarterbacks coach in Denver and maintains a strong relationship with him. Given what’s evident about the Bears’ situation, and Bates’ reported desire to return to the NFL, this seems to be a real possibility for a match.

Former St. Louis coach Mike Martz, who once hired Bears coach Lovie Smith as his defensive coordinator, has expressed interest in the job. Martz would probably get more out of Cutler than former coordinator Ron Turner, but it’s important to note that Smith said he wants to maintain "balance" between the run and the pass even if the team throws more next season. "Balance" and "Martz" have rarely been used in the same sentence.

Finally, ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson reports that former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is intrigued by the job. But Dickerson also reports that Cutler is lobbying hard for Bates.

On the defensive side, speculation on the NFL's Web site has centered on former Buffalo interim coach Perry Fewell, who interviewed Monday night for the Bills’ permanent job. He’s also scheduled to interview Thursday for the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator job.

Fewell was the Bears’ defensive backs coach in 2005 before leaving to become the Bills’ coordinator. Smith indicated Tuesday he preferred candidates with familiarity. "When you have a basic philosophy," Smith said, "you want someone with a similar philosophy."

We’ll keep you updated.