The Chicago Bears need to think about only one thing while they look for their next head coach: offense.
While going 14-34 under now-fired John Fox for the past three seasons, the team struggled to score points with consistent balance and explosiveness.
Now that the Bears have their franchise quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky, they need an offensive-minded leader to take him to the next level as they also continue to improve the personnel around him.
With that in mind, here are the seven coaching candidates most qualified for the task at hand.
Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator, Vikings
Shurmur, who worked with Sam Bradford early in his career and has turned Case Keenum into something special this season, would be a great get for Trubisky. He also has some previous NFL head-coaching experience in the QB wasteland known as Cleveland.
Shurmer is both organized and experienced at age 52. Trubisky’s athletic skill set would mesh well with his system. It also wouldn’t hurt to take him away from a division rival.
Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator, Chiefs
There’s also some Alex Smith in Trubisky, and Nagy is responsible for getting terrific, rejuvenated play from the veteran in Kansas City. In addition to helping Trubisky settle better, Nagy would turn running back Jordan Howard and tight end Adam Shaheen into the centerpieces of the offense while also pushing to get his second-year QB a speedy deep threat to complement them.
At age 39, Nagy is ready for a shot to break free from Andy Reid.
Matt LaFleur, offensive coordinator, Rams
LaFleur’s boss, Sean McVay, is an offensive wunderkind who’s about to run away with coach of the year honors. In relation to the 31-year-old McVay, LaFleur, 38, is a coaching veteran with good experience under another such genius, Kyle Shanahan, in Houston, Washington and Atlanta.
Given LaFleur’s work with last year’s No. 1 overall pick in Jared Goff, it should inspire he can do nice things with Trubisky, too.
Jim Bob Cooter, offensive coordinator, Lions
Cooter has gotten plenty of head-coaching buzz in previous years, but it seemed like his youthfulness was a limitation. The guy who has gotten the best out of Matthew Stafford still is only 33.
But in a copycat league, what McVay did in 2017 has probably made age just a number for teams looking for a new head coach in 2018. Cooter would be another good way to steal from within the division.
John DeFilippo, quarterbacks coach, Eagles
Frank Reich, Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator, will also be on many teams’ radars. But DeFilippo, 39, is a worthy candidate based on position-specific work for several colleges and NFL teams.
He did well molding both Derek Carr and Carson Wentz, so that should create appeal for a Trubisky match.
MOCK DRAFT 2018:
Bears go defense in Round 1
Dave Toub, special teams coordinator Chiefs
Toub is the one exception to the offensive rule in the Bears’ search, as by association with Nagy, Reid and Doug Pederson, Toub would put in place a good offensive coordinator to do his thing with Trubisky while he brings the rest of the team together.
Toub, 55, is overdue for a head-coaching shot and is very familiar with Chicago, having led the Bears’ special teams from 2004-12.
Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator, Patriots
Every offensive wish list has to have McDaniels’ name on it, although his style and demanding demeanor might not be as good of a fit for the Bears as the options above.
McDaniels deserves at least an interview, because in moving on from Fox, the Bears need to think of every opposite approach.