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Durkin: Early Bears' Coaching Candidate Breakdowns

By Dan Durkin-

(CBS) At the outset of Monday's press conference, Bears chairman George McCaskey and team president Ted Phillps said the search for finding a new general manager and head coach was underway. While a timetable wasn't shared, they both conveyed a message of pragmatic urgency.

"We do not have a timetable," McCaskey said. "We will act quickly if necessary to get the people we want, and we are prepared to wait if necessary to get the people we want."

Phillips went on to say that the process was initiating on Monday with the assistance of Ernie Accorsi, whom the Bears brought on as a consultant from the NFL's Career Development Advisory Panel.

"We have a plan in place," Phillips said. "And after this press conference we're going to be ready to go. We've already received numerous inquiries from a number of people -- don't think it's appropriate or fair to any candidates to start talking about any individual candidates today. That'll unfold as the process moves along.

"We're going to proceed with a sense of urgency. There is no timeline, as George mentioned, but we do have a sense of urgency and we will be prepared to act when we get the right candidates in place."

Ideally, the general manager would be hired prior to the head coach. But Accorsi had already advised McCaskey and Phillips that they shouldn't make that a strict rule in the selection process.

"The conventional timeline is to hire the general manager first," McCaskey said. "But Ernie has already advised us that if we see the right guy out there as a head coach we need to be prepared to move quickly to get him."

Given that many of the head coaching candidates are preparing their teams for the playoffs, names of candidates have started to surface.

Let's take a closer look at some of the early names.

-- Todd Bowles (defensive coordinator, Arizona Cardinals): Bowles, 51, has been involved in the NFL in various roles for 26 years. He played safety in the league for eight seasons (1985-1993), spending the majority of his career with the Washington Redskins, learning from coaches like Richie Petitbon and Larry Peccatiello.

In 1995, Bowles joined the front office of the Green Bay Packers as member of their player personnel department for two seasons. Bowles got his first NFL coaching job with the New York Jets in 2000 and has remained in the league as a coach every year since, ascending from a secondary coach to a defensive coordinator and had a brief stint as a head coach.

In 2011 with the Miami Dolphins, Bowles was promoted to interim head coach after Tony Sparano was fired. Bowles presided over the final three games of the season, in which the Dolphins went 2-1.

In 2012, Bowles moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles as a defensive backs coach, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator after Juan Castillo was let go after the sixth game of the season. The Eagles went 1-9 over the final games, allowing a league-high 32 points per game over that span, but the truth of the matter is the season was already lost and Bowles was set up to fail. Bowles runs a hybrid front scheme that was drastically different than Castillo's wide-nine and simply didn't have the time nor the talent to properly install it.

Bowles has spent the last two seasons in Arizona, where the Cardinals defense has thrived. In 2013, the Cardinals finished the season as the league's best against the run (84 yards per game), sixth in sacks (47) and points allowed (20.3).

In 2014, the Cardinals finished fifth in points allowed (18.7) and were the first team to hold Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray under 100 yards. Just last month, Bowles was given a contract extension through the 2017 season.

Bowles is the epitome of a week-to-week coordinator, who tailors specific schemes to beat that particular opponent. He adapts to his available talent and uses a variety of fronts -- two-, three- and four-man lines -- as well as a variety of sub packages that mix traditional nickel and dime packages with "big" nickel and dime packages that use safeties instead of cornerbacks.

The Bears may have to act fast if they want to secure Bowles' services, as Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reported that every team with a head coaching vacancy has requested an interview with Bowles.


-- Adam Gase (offensive coordinator, Denver Broncos): Gase's ascension as a potential head coach parallels Peyton Manning's arrival in Denver. At 36, Gase has 12 years of experience in the NFL. Prior to arriving in the NFL, Gase worked with Nick Saban at LSU as a graduate assistant and participated in recruiting activities.

Gase got his NFL start as a scouting assistant with the Detroit Lions in 2003. His coaching career started with the Lions in 2005 as an assistant. In 2007, he moved up to a quarterbacks coach role working under Mike Martz, so he has familiarity with Air Coryell vertical-passing principles.

Gase was the Broncos' quarterbacks coach in Manning's first season in Denver and worked under then-offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who is now the head coach in San Diego. Thus, he's familiar with Manning's tried-and-true "levels" concept as well as the mirrored and mesh route concepts that Manning has made his Hall of Fame career off of.

Manning is clearly the primary factor of the Broncos' offensive dominance, but any coach who has the opportunity to work with Manning has a leg up on the rest of the league.

The Broncos' system is rooted in simplicity and relies on Manning's ability to pinpoint the weakness of the opposing defense on that particular play using a "check with me" system at the line of scrimmage. In that system, the quarterback is given a package of plays to choose from and must read the defense in order to chose the optimal play.

Gase was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013. Over the past two seasons, the Broncos finished first in total points last season (37.9) and second in total points this season (30.1). Consequently, Gase was coveted by the Cleveland Browns last year for their head coaching job, but he felt that the timing wasn't right. This time through, it appears to be a different situation, as he's also received interview requests from Atlanta and San Francisco in addition to Chicago.

-- Dan Quinn (defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks): Quinn, 44, has been a defensive coach for 21 years, with 12 years of NFL experience. His specialty is working with defensive lines.

When Gus Bradley accepted the Jaguars' head coaching job, Quinn moved into the defensive coordinator role, where he's been the last two seasons. Over that span, the Seahawks have finished No. 1 in points allowed, allowing 14.4 per game in 2013 and 15.9 in 2014.

The Seahawks' dominant defense carried them to a Super Bowl championship last season and earned them the NFC's No. 1 seed this season. Quinn has had the fortune of learning from both Bradley and Pete Carroll, who run a stripped-down Cover-3 scheme that thrives on simplicity, speed and stellar personnel in the secondary.

Quinn's scheme is a 4-3 base, but they also play several 3-4 concepts. The essence of the defensive front is to use three space eaters along the defensive line with a speedy pass rusher on the weak side -- known as a "LEO" -- who benefits from the extra attention given on the inside to quickly bend the edge in single-block situations.

But the critical components to the scheme are the secondary players, where the Seahawks have arguably the league's best cornerback (Richard Sherman) and free safety (Earl Thomas). Even though they're a zone-based defense, the Seahawks press with their corners with outside technique, funneling everything back to the middle.

With three trustworthy deep defenders, the Seahawks have the best of both worlds, as they have four underneath defenders, forming an eight-man front that can react downhill against the run as well as congest intermediate passing zones. Quinn will succeed in a situation where a team is committed to finding the right pieces to allow his scheme to truly flourish.

The Bears will interview Quinn soon, according to reports.

-- Gary Kubiak (offensive coordinator, Baltimore Ravens): The 53-year-old Kubiak has 30 years of NFL experience, nine as a quarterback for the Broncos and 21 as a coach. Kubiak has served as a quarterbacks coach, a coordinator and has eight years of head coaching experience, all with the Houston Texans, where he had three winning seasons and two playoff berths. This season, Kubiak has coordinated the Ravens offense, which finished eighth in both scoring (25.6) and rushing yards (126).

Kubiak spent a large portion of his coaching career with Mike Shanahan and is well versed in a zone-running scheme. When it's run properly, not only do the quarterback and running back sell the play, but offensive line works in concert to give the defense the same picture for the first few seconds of the snap regardless if it's a run or pass. Off of this action, Kubiak runs a boot-passing game, which Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had success running in Denver.

This season, Ravens running back Justin Forsett -- who also played for Kubiak in Houston -- finished fifth in rushing despite not being the team's primary ball-carrier to start the season. With a boot-heavy passing game, Kubiak cuts the quarterback's reads in half, giving him a clearer picture and fewer defenders to read in the progression. Thus if the Bears were to keep Cutler next season, this scheme could be a fit, as he works best on the move with simplified selections.

The Bears have expressed interest in Kubiak, according to Dan Pompei, but they don't have an interview lined up as of early Wednesday afternoon.

Dan Durkin covers the Bears for and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.

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