NFC North: Pete Carmichael Jr.

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
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:

You can go ahead and put running back near the top of the Detroit Lions' offseason shopping list. Again.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew gave a candid interview Wednesday night to local reporters, admitting that "the biggest mistake I made last year" was counting on Jahvid Best to return from a concussion suffered in October 2011. Mayhew said that "I'm not at all inclined to rely on his return at this point" and added he should have had an alternate plan to provide a running back of Best's skill set in 2012. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press has the full story.

Mayhew did claim that Best is the first player in NFL history (that he is aware of) "who was asymptomatic that wanted to play that wasn't allowed to play," implying doctors have held him to a new standard.

I applaud Mayhew's honesty, but we should point out that doctors aren't at fault here. No matter what their approach was, Mayhew's job as general manager is to plan for the worst-case scenario. He fell short.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Mayhew said the Lions' defense needs more playmakers, according to Justin Rogers of Mlive.com. Mayhew: "We have a lot of guys, who are good guys, that line up right, they know what their job is, but they don't impact the game. We need interceptors, guys that can sack the quarterback, we need guys that cause fumbles, that make plays on third down. Those are the kinds of guys that can change the game for us."
  • Mayhew is on the clock, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News.
  • Add New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. to the Chicago Bears' growing list of candidates for their head-coaching job, according to ProFootballTalk.com via ESPNChicago.com.
  • Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, in a radio interview via the Chicago Tribune, on the firing of Lovie Smith: "I’m not bitter, I’m still taking it in. It’s a big shock … I’m more shocked than anything."
  • The Bears are offering the best job of the seven coaching vacancies, according to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • In reality, not all Green Bay Packers players like being in the cold, writes Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • The Packers' special teams have grown under Shawn Slocum and Chad Morton, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on running back DuJuan Harris, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "I think he's kind of a Transformer. There's more than meets the eye with DuJuan."
  • It has been Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin's choice to remain apart from the team after being placed on injured reserve, according to the Star Tribune.
  • Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson has moved back into a full-time role in the nickel defense, notes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.
  • Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson has lobbied to play special teams, writes Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

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