NFC North: Bruce Arians

A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers' beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers coach Mike McCarthy completed his coaching staff last Friday, when he announced the hiring of four new coaches and gave different responsibilities to five others previously on his staff.

It brought the total number of assistant coaches working under McCarthy to 21 -- one more than the Packers had last season.

Only three NFL head coaches currently have more assistants than McCarthy does.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll each have 23 assistant coaches -- tops in the NFL. It's interesting that the two biggest staffs both were assembled by recent former college coaches.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is next with 22 assistants. Three other teams -- the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs -- match the Packers with 21.

In the NFC North, the Packers have two more assistants than the Chicago Bears, three more than the Detroit Lions and four more than the Minnesota Vikings.

The NFL average for assistant coaches is 19.1 per team. The AFC average is 18.9, while the NFC average is 19.3.

The numbers were based on coaching staff directories listed on each team's website.

While there could be a few additions to coaching staffs over the next few weeks, most of the coaching changes have been made, which makes it interesting to note that Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin currently has the smallest staff with just 14 assistants. The Steelers list only one strength and conditioning coach, while many teams have two or three, and only list one special teams coach while many teams have two or three. Other teams will small staffs include the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, each with 16 assistants.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com: Best of the rest:
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause suggested that Seahawks general manager John Schneider, a former Packers scout, might be the best choice to replace Ted Thompson whenever he decides to retire from his GM job.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein wrote that the Thompson's draft-and-develop philosophy has put the Packers in good salary-cap shape.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- They lined up against each other in the Arizona air and didn’t say much. In one of the premier individual matchups in the NFL last season -- one commencing again this Sunday -- both players were gassed.

“Shoot, we weren’t really talking a lot,” Calvin Johnson said. “Because there was a lot of running going on. A lot of heavy breathing.”

This type of matchup is one Johnson, often considered the best receiver in the game, craves. A year ago, he put up big numbers against Patrick Peterson, catching 10 passes for 121 yards, but Arizona beat Detroit, 38-10.

Johnson
Peterson
Peterson
Those 10 catches, though, came on 17 targets. That’s part of the danger of going against Peterson, who had an interception against Detroit last year. Even if a receiver puts up numbers, it’ll likely take a lot to reach it.

Peterson is one of the few cornerbacks in the league who won’t need help on a play-by-play basis on Johnson. There will be times, despite what last year’s statistics say, where Peterson will be able to stay with him.

Not many others can say that. Then again, not every corner is considered the best in the NFL. That’s how Arizona coach Bruce Arians views Peterson. Alone against each other they will go.

“You have to have a lot of confidence in him,” Arians said. “They’re two great athletes. Calvin is special and so is Patrick. We’re going to put him in that situation.

“You can’t always single-cover the guy, but you have to be able to mix-and-match it.”

Peterson is able to single-cover Johnson at times because of his size -- 6-foot-1, 219 pounds -- along with his speed and his coverage skills. Johnson explained Peterson often tries to use his size to press receivers and he has the speed to catch up to a receiver if he doesn’t jam him on the line.

It is a challenge Johnson likes.

“It brings out the best in competitors,” Johnson said. “When you get to go against the best, you know.

“Especially when you get one-on-one coverage. I view it as an opportunity.”

Last season gave him some idea of how Peterson might approach him. He also figures to potentially see more single coverage Sunday than he will in many other games this season.

Not that Johnson’s teammates are worried about it.

“I’m not really concerned about Calvin going against Pat,” Detroit receiver Nate Burleson said. “Pat is a really, really good cornerback. He’s one of the best in the league.

“But I think Calvin is the best in the world. Period. When Calvin gets an opportunity against Pat, you know I’ve got faith in Calvin.”

Much like Arizona has similar confidence in Peterson.

Johnson seems excited about the matchup. The way Peterson defends impressed him enough he joked he almost plays like a receiver. The Cardinals have a 60-play package for Peterson on offense along with his defensive and special teams responsibilities.

Arians said Peterson’s defensive responsibilities often dictate how much offense he’ll play.

“He’s a guy that, when you have a playmaker like that, you want to put the ball in his hands,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “We’ve just got to be alert any time 21 comes on the field. We have to do our jobs and make sure he doesn’t make a big play in the game.”

On offense. Or on defense. Or on special teams.

Of course, Peterson won’t face a receiver like Johnson every week. So perhaps Arizona will keep him on defense so he can stay fresh against one of the best receivers in the game.

Either way, it’s a matchup even Johnson’s teammates want to see.

“I’m looking forward to it, too, man,” Burleson said. “I like seeing some of the best going up against the best. I got Calvin’s back.

“I’m not a gambling man, but if I was, I’d put my money on Megatron.”
Reggie Bush and Carson PalmerGetty ImagesReggie Bush and Carson Palmer have given their respective teams major upgrades on offense.

A lot has happened since the Detroit Lions' most recent trip to University of Phoenix Stadium, last December.

The Arizona Cardinals hired an entirely new coaching staff and enlisted a veteran quarterback to bolster the offense. The Lions, meanwhile, added a shifty new running back by the name of Reggie Bush. In last year’s meeting, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford played poorly, and it allowed the Cardinals to break a nine-game losing streak.

My, how times have changed. The Lions are flying high off a season-opening victory against NFC North rival Minnesota, while the Cardinals are still trying to find their footing in 2013.

Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and Lions reporter Michael Rothstein discuss Sunday’s matchup.

Josh Weinfuss: A lot has been made of offseason additions on both sides. How has the Lions' offense changed by adding Bush?

Michael Rothstein: It has definitely become much more dynamic. You'll see a lot more screen passes and short passes to get Bush in space and allow him to create. The perfect example came on the 77-yard screen that went for a touchdown against the Vikings. Not sure the Lions had anyone with that kind of speed out of the backfield last season. Add to that Bush's ability to run between the tackles when he needs to, and it creates another dimension for defenses to be concerned about. No longer is it pay attention to Calvin Johnson and make Detroit's other pieces find a way to win. If teams do that, Bush will force them to abandon that strategy.

Sticking with offense, has the addition of Carson Palmer aided the passing game for both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd?

Josh Weinfuss: Without a doubt. Palmer has brought not only stability to a position that's been a hurricane in the three seasons since Kurt Warner retired, but also talent. The proof of that came Sunday when Palmer and Fitzgerald connected for two touchdowns -- one on a 4-yard fade to the back left corner, the other on a 25-yard beauty that dropped into Fitzgerald's hands. Last season, Cardinals quarterbacks targeted Fitzgerald nine times in the red zone and didn't complete any. Palmer is already 2-for-3 in the red zone to Fitzgerald. Floyd also will benefit from Palmer's accuracy. With Floyd being a larger target than Fitzgerald, Palmer can get a little more creative with where he throws the ball, an issue all four Arizona quarterbacks had last season.

Let's switch sides of the ball. After his incident against the Vikings, is Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh becoming a distraction already this season?

Michael Rothstein: Distraction? No. The reason I say that is most people around the Lions have been around this situation before with Suh. If his teammates are telling the truth and indeed accepted his apology, it should be a nonissue for most in the locker room -- for now. Where it becomes a problem, perhaps, is if Suh does something like this again. It should become a distraction or an issue only if he were to be suspended in the future.

Since you asked about Suh, how does Arizona's offensive line deal with him, Nick Fairley and the rest of Detroit's deep, talented defensive line?

Josh Weinfuss: This is a different situation from Week 1, when the Cardinals focused on stopping two very strong outside rushers. With Suh and Fairley coming up the gut, Arizona will have to rely on its guards and center more -- which could be an issue, considering that right guard Paul Fanaika played in his first game in almost two years Sunday. Don't expect the Cardinals to overload the box with blockers. Palmer said he'd rather have less time to throw and more options downfield, but the Cardinals more than likely will keep a running back home to pick up that inside rush and a tight end on the outside to allow the tackle to cheat over and help the guard.

Speaking of the offense, has any team figured out how to slow down Johnson, because stopping him is unlikely -- and if anyone has slowed the stud receiver, how'd they do it?

Michael Rothstein: Kind of, Josh. Kind of. Johnson had four catches for 37 yards against Minnesota on Sunday. While he was targeted nine times -- and missed two touchdowns by not much -- the addition of Bush to the Lions' offense has taken some pressure off Johnson. When Minnesota chose to try to take away Johnson, Detroit focused on letting Bush operate. While I don't think teams will ever take Johnson out of the game while he is in his prime, it wouldn't shock me if he has some games in which Detroit looks to Bush more instead of always featuring Johnson. That, of course, just makes the Lions' offense much more difficult to stop.

I'll wrap it up with a question to you. How much is Patrick Peterson going to be involved in the offense? And can he be a true two-way player, be it this week or beyond?

Josh Weinfuss: Ideally, Peterson would play a prominent role in the offense. And the Cardinals have planned for that, installing a package specifically for him that was, at last check, 60 plays deep. They want him out there, so much so that on cut day, coach Bruce Arians said Peterson would be considered the Cardinals’ fifth receiver. But with all the hype, he played only three offensive snaps. Granted, Peterson’s involvement will always be dictated by the situation, but I think a lot of people were expecting more in Week 1. As to your second question, that’s tough to answer. Peterson is already playing nearly every down on defense and is the Cards’ primary punt returner. He’s young -- 23 in July -- so his body can handle it, but I don’t know whether there’s anyone these days getting significant time in all three facets. He’s more likely to get hurt on offense, but if he can make an impact on defense, special teams and offense, you’re looking at a potential MVP.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer spoke with the Detroit media Wednesday ahead of Sunday's visit from the Lions.

Here, in friendly bullet points, are the highlights of what they said:

BRUCE ARIANS
  • Arians discussed one of the more interesting topics these days for opposing defenses -- how to handle both Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson: "The addition of Reggie has really helped and added to their arsenal of weapons, which is already one of the best in the league. It's a matter of how you want to defend both those guys." For what it is worth, Minnesota clearly chose to try to take away Johnson, which allowed Bush to gain 191 yards of offense.
  • Cornerback Patrick Peterson has been playing some offense for Arizona. He apparently has 60 offensive plays in the playbook for him. Sounds like Arians is going to try to balance his work on defense and offense as much as possible.
  • Of course, Arians was asked about Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and Arians repeated what he said last season -- that he would want Suh on his team. But when it came to the hit on Minnesota center John Sullivan, he had a fairly blunt take: "I thought it was obviously uncalled-for and against the rules. I think he's known since, probably high school football, that after an interception you can't block below the waist. He might have been too concerned about hitting somebody in the head, but it's just poor judgment at that time." Arians added that he does not expect Suh to change how he plays.
  • This is pretty interesting. Arians was asked about the impact of Peterson on drafting his former college teammate, Tyrann Mathieu: "There wouldn't have been a pick if it wasn't for Patrick."
CARSON PALMER
  • He and Larry Fitzgerald worked out as much as they could, including for "a handful of days" in July when they were off.
  • Palmer on Bush, who also went to USC: "I loved it. I remember watching his highlight film when I was in college. They were excited about the guy they were getting, and I was watching his San Diego high school football film saying 'Wow, this kid is something special.' You could tell back then what he was going to be in college. Just a phenomenal college career, obviously."
  • Palmer said Peterson would be a factor in the offense. Couldn't say how many plays, but he will factor in.

Will Bears buck the NFL's age trend?

January, 15, 2013
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As word filtered out Monday night on the finalists for the Chicago Bears' coaching job, some of you immediately expressed support for Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Why? Everyone has their reasons, but without a doubt, age is one of them.

Via Twitter, @cubbieBearHawk wrote: "We need a young Innovative mind not senior citizens." Meanwhile, @MikeDBears recognized how unusual his hopes were: "cant believe im rooting for the 2 old guys."

Fans tend to gravitate toward the "young, innovative mind" narrative -- especially for first-time head coaches. And quite frankly, NFL teams do as well. That undeniable fact makes the Bears' other two known finalists -- Marc Trestman and Bruce Arians -- unique.

Bevell is 43, which puts him neatly in the profile of recent NFL hires. Arians, meanwhile, is 60 and Trestman is 57. As silly as it might sound, their ages make them outliers in the candidate pool teams have recently dipped into among candidates who have not been NFL head coaches before. (In the video, ESPN's Adam Schefter implies Trestman could be a finalist for the job.)

I did a quick look Tuesday morning at the ages of the 21 current coaches who -- like Bevell, Trestman and Arians -- had never been NFL head coaches when hired into their jobs. The average age of those men was 45.3 years old, with a range of 34 (Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers) to 51 (Mike Munchak of the Tennessee Titans, Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings and Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts.)

There are seven men who are in their second jobs as NFL head coaches, meanwhile, and Arians is older than all of them were when they were hired. Trestman is older than all but Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who was 58 when he accepted the job.

In a vacuum, I hope we would all argue that age shouldn't be so relevant in a job that should require leadership and experience. But in recent history, at least, it's clear that NFL teams are just as drawn as fans are to young coaches with potential for growth, favoring them over those who -- like Arians and Trestman -- have spent decades working their way through the coaching ranks.

It would take weeks to fully report out the reasons for that trend. I'm sure that identifying with players, energizing fan bases and bringing "new" schemes are all part of the allure.

What we can say is this: The Bears would certainly buck recent NFL thought by hiring Arians -- whose role as the Colts' interim coach this season was temporary and came only after Pagano's bout with leukemia -- or Trestman. I don't think it is the least bit fair to see that kind of ageism taking place, but as I'm sure every NFL coach in recent history has said at some point, it is what it is.

BBAO: Arguing to keep Dom Capers

January, 15, 2013
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We're Black and Blue All Over:

As we noted late Monday night, we are now waiting for the Chicago Bears to complete the second round of interviews in their coaching search. We are also waiting to find out if the Green Bay Packers will make any coaching staff changes after their defense's embarrassing performance in Saturday night's divisional playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Coach Mike McCarthy is scheduled to meet with reporters Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET. Assistant coaches will follow. I'm not sure if there is anything to be read into the timing of their availability, but generally speaking, teams don't put assistant coaches in position to speak publicly if their futures are truly in question.

I've suggested that defensive coordinator Dom Capers' tenure should at least come under review after the 49ers gained 323 rushing yards, and 579 total, amid some pointed remarks from players in the postgame locker room. Meanwhile, Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has a column that strongly advocates for Capers' return.
Vandermause: "[T]his is no time for an emotional, knee-jerk over-reaction. Capers should be judged by his large body of work, not a handful of games. This is the same defensive coordinator who played a major role two years ago in the Packers' Super Bowl championship by coaching up a patchwork, injury-plagued unit."

We'll see what McCarthy has to say on the topic, if anything, this afternoon.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "In the past, McCarthy has avoided painting himself into an on-the-record corner by saying anything about possible staff changes, so it’s hard to predict if he’ll say anything definitive Tuesday."
  • It's not clear what the future holds for Packers running back James Starks, writes Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians requires "the shortest leap of faith" among the Bears' final candidates, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
  • It's not clear whether Arians, Marc Trestman and Darrell Bevell are the only finalists, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com has an interesting theory for why Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew hasn't done a better job solidifying the cornerback position. Richardson: "Because Mayhew seemingly drafts guys who look just like him -- short and feisty."
  • We'll soon find out if Lions defensive end Cliff Avril made the right decision last spring by turning down a three-year, $30 million contract. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press explains.
  • The Lions are expected to reach out to former Tennessee Titans special teams coordinator Alan Lowry to replace Danny Crossman, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
  • Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson beat Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for MVP and Comeback Player of the Year in two player polls, notes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.

Bears: Trestman? Bevell? Arians?

January, 14, 2013
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Yes indeed: The Chicago Bears have moved to the second round of their coast-to-coast coaching search.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen have identified two of the finalists: Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman and Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday evening that Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is a finalist as well. It's not known if the Bears have cut the list off there or if other candidates will join that trio in getting second interviews this week.

As we've been discussing for some time, it's clear that general manager Phil Emery has been focused on offensive-minded coaches and wasn't looking to make a so-called splashy hire.

Of the 13 known candidates, Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Mike Singletary is the only one with a defensive background. With defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli still under contract, you wonder if Emery has been offering candidates the opportunity to retain him and/or the rest of the Bears' current defensive staff.

Arians is the only member of the group with NFL head coaching experience, having served as the Colts' interim coach this season while Chuck Pagano fought leukemia. He is 60, while Trestman will turn 57 on Tuesday. Bevell is 43.

Trestman's candidacy is by far the most intriguing. His started his coaching career in 1981 while studying to get a law degree at the University of Miami. During his time as an NFL assistant, Trestman gained a reputation as a quarterback guru -- tutoring current Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during predraft workouts -- and an innovative playcaller. But his career stalled in 2008, and after accepting the Alouettes' offer to be their head coach, he has won two Grey Cup championships.

I've wondered how hiring Trestman might play in Chicago, the country's second-biggest NFL market. But I've spoken to a few people who know Emery, and they don't think that public reaction -- good, bad or indifferent -- would impact his thought process at all. We could find out his final decision in a matter of days. Stay tuned.
By the end of Sunday, it's possible the Chicago Bears will have concluded their first round of interviews in what has already been an epic coaching search. Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was scheduled to be the 13th known candidate to speak with general manager Phil Emery. If there are more first-round interviews scheduled, they haven't been reported.

My educated guess is that some interviews have been completed in secrecy, so I wouldn't be surprised if Emery has spoken with 15 or more candidates. We've discussed the possibility that Emery is using this opportunity to pick the brains of as many smart assistant coaches as he can, but I think we have also seen an undeniable quality emerge as well.

Here's how Tennessee Titans general manger Ruston Webster put it last week during an interview with my AFC South colleague Paul Kuharsky on 104.5-FM in Nashville: "I know Phil Emery, and Phil Emery is about as thorough of a human being as I've ever known."

Meanwhile, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, two of the coaches Emery has spoken with said "they never have interviewed with anyone as prepared and detailed" as him.

So before we try to ascribe some kind of ulterior motive to Emery's approach, and rather than conclude he is flailing blindly in the night, perhaps this search is best viewed as a physical extension of Emery's meticulous personality. Where and when it ends remains anyone's guess. Former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson tweeted that Emery favored his former assistant, current Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, but nothing more has come of what appears to be Johnson's personal view.

For the record, here are the Bears' Lucky 13 to this point:
  1. Arians
  2. Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong
  3. Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell
  4. New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.
  5. Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements
  6. Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis
  7. Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison
  8. Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy
  9. Minnesota Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer
  10. Vikings special assistant to the head coach Mike Singletary.
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan
  12. Trestman
  13. Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub
I can tell that a few of you are starting to get antsy about the Chicago Bears' coaching search, which is now well into its second week. All I can tell you at this point is that it appears the first round of interviews will continue at least through Sunday.

According to this timeline from Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com, the Bears were scheduled to interview Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements on Thursday. Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will interview Friday, Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on Saturday, and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will meet with them Sunday.

All told, the Bears have sought out first-round interviews with at least 13 candidates, including their special teams coordinator, Dave Toub. According to the Chicago Tribune, however, Toub interviewed recently for a job as an assistant with the Carolina Panthers, and also has a meeting scheduled with the Kansas City Chiefs.

At some point, the Bears presumably will narrow down their field and bring finalists to Halas Hall for second interviews. But you're looking at next week at the earliest for that portion of the process, assuming the second round doesn't start until the first round ends. Stay tuned.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Make that an even dozen reported candidates for the Chicago Bears' open head-coaching position. The latest: Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports the Bears want to interview a pair of Minnesota Vikings assistants: Mike Singletary and Mike Priefer.

Singletary had a Hall of Fame career as the Bears' middle linebacker and was the San Francisco 49ers' coach for parts of three seasons from 2008-10. But his time in Minnesota has been much less visible, and he is currently the Vikings' special assistant to the head coach and also works with linebackers coach Fred Pagac.

Priefer, meanwhile, is the third special teams coordinator's name to emerge. His work in identifying, drafting and developing Pro Bowl place-kicker Blair Walsh has been lauded throughout the organization.

It's now clear that Bears general manager Phil Emery is using this opportunity to meet as many NFL assistants as he can and assemble a mental database of their thoughts, ideas and personalities. Who knows how many of these candidates are serious contenders for the job, but it's worth noting that three of the 12 names that have been reported are from division rivals.

For what it's worth, Singletary is the only one with either head-coaching experience or a defensive background. ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported the Bears hope to bring two finalists to Halas Hall this week.

Continuing around the NFC North:
We're Black and Blue All Over:

At a time when two of the NFL's seven head-coaching vacancies have been filled, the Chicago Bears are still adding names to their list of candidates. That is not necessarily a bad thing; it simply illustrates they are on their own timetable and didn't enter the process with a favored candidate.

The latest name to emerge is Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who has an extensive background in the NFC North as a Green Bay Packers assistant (2000-05) and the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator (2006-10). Bevell is eligible to interview this week.

We now have 10 names on the list of reported candidates, and there could be more. We identified the other nine known names in this post from Sunday. Most of them are NFL offensive coordinators, and none have defensive backgrounds.

Continuing around the NFC North:
After a wild 24 hours of news, action and quarterback intrigue for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, let's catch up on the Chicago Bears' coaching search as it enters its second week.

What stands out is how wide the Bears' net is. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Bears have either already interviewed or plan to speak with about a dozen candidates before circling back to a second round. Most of candidates have backgrounds on offense and, according to Schefter, they have all been told that two finalists will visit Halas Hall this week before an offer is made.

The names of nine coaches have emerged or been reported in recent days. The latest are Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who is eligible to interview this week, and longtime NFL assistant Marc Trestman, who is currently the head coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. Trestman will interview Monday. The Bears are also scheduled to speak Sunday with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Already, the Bears have interviewed Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.

In addition to McCoy, Dennison and Trestman, the Bears have requested permission to speak with Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

None of those coaches have defensive backgrounds, which makes the focus of general manager Phil Emery's search clear. It's worth noting that respected defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli remains under contract and employed by the team. But there are almost certainly other names on Emery's list that have not yet emerged publicly, and some could have defensive backgrounds. Stay tuned.
The Chicago Bears have sought permission to interview seven known candidates this week for their vacant head-coaching position, according to reports. Five are offensive coordinators, two are special-teams coordinators and not one has a primary background as a defensive head coach.

What does that tell us about general manager Phil Emery's goals and objectives in this process?

First, we should make clear that the list of seven, whose names are at the bottom of this post, might not be all of the candidates Emery has targeted. Others could have gone undiscovered to this point by reporters or have been kept under the radar for competitive reasons.

But it's certainly worth noting that Emery appears to be most interested in the offensive side of the ball, the part of the team he said Tuesday was most disappointing under former coach Lovie Smith. NFL teams routinely seek out candidates that offer a stark contrast to the predecessor, and an offensive schemer would certainly qualify given Smith's background on defense.

It's possible that some of the candidates are being interviewed as potential offensive coordinators. You also wonder if Emery is leaving open the possibility for an offensive-minded coach to preserve the Bears' defensive staff, led by coordinator Rod Marinelli. Emery said Tuesday that all assistants were given an extra year on their contracts last season, meaning they all remain obligated to stay with the team unless the new coach fires them.

Again, it's difficult to draw too many conclusions based on what might be an incomplete list. All we can say at the moment is that there are no confirmed candidates with defensive backgrounds to this point.

The offensive coordinators: Bruce Arians (Indianapolis Colts), Pete Carmichael Jr. (New Orleans Saints), Tom Clements (Green Bay Packers), Mike McCoy (Denver Broncos), Mike Sullivan (Tampa Bay Buccaneers),

The special teams coordinators: Keith Armstrong (Atlanta Falcons), Joe DeCamillis (Dallas Cowboys).
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Many of you probably noticed Chicago Bears fans taking over Cowboys Stadium last Monday night, at one point chanting "Let's go Bears" so loud that linebacker Brian Urlacher could be seen saying, "Wow." Now it appears another NFC North opponent is worried about fans overtaking its stadium.

Indianapolis Colts acting coach Bruce Arians attempted this week to warn fans that Green Bay Packers fans travel well and will likely be out in force Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Indianapolis is about four and a half hours away from the Wisconsin state line.)

Arians, via Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star: "Having been against the Packers, I know how their fans travel. No way can they come into Lucas Oil this week and take over our stadium. We cannot allow the Cheeseheads to come in here and take over."

The Colts will have an emotional day regardless. Arians is the acting coach because coach Chuck Pagano is undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Continuing around the NFC North:

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