There was little doubt that the Bears would move on from Matt Nagy after the 2021 NFL season. The coach was in his fourth year with the franchise and he almost didn’t make it there. He and general manager Ryan Pace were given one more chance to get things right, but short of a playoff run, they would likely be replaced during the 2022 NFL offseason.
That came to fruition. The Bears fired Nagy and Pace on Black Monday, following the conclusion of the NFL’s regular season. The Bears posted a 6-11 record and while Justin Fields flashed at times, the offense — which was supposed to be Nagy’s calling card — was, largely, punchless. So, the Bears jettisoned the former Chiefs offensive coordinator.
Now, Chicago will look for a new coach for the fourth time in the last decade, and the team needs to get it right to win their first playoff game since 2010.
As such, it’s no surprise that the Bears are casting a wide net to look for a replacement for Nagy. They have already sent out numerous interview requests and will begin the process of winnowing down their candidate pool over the next few weeks.
MORE: Why the Bears fired Matt Nagy, explained
Here’s a look at all of the candidates that the Bears have requested to interview for their vacant coaching job, according to various media reports.
Full list of Bears coaching candidates, interview requests
Brian Flores, former head coach, Dolphins
Flores, 40, was shockingly fired by the Dolphins after back-to-back winning seasons during which the team failed to get to the playoffs. He led the Dolphins to a 24-25-1 record over three years with the team despite navigating a complex rebuild. Flores is one of the most respected defensive minds in the game and is expected to land a new head coaching job during this cycle. UPDATE: The Bears announced Jan. 14 that they had interviewed Flores for their head coaching position.
Doug Pederson, former head coach, Eagles
Pederson, 53, spent last year out of coaching after a five-year stint with the Eagles. He made the playoffs three times in those five games and led the team to a Super Bowl win over Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2018. He has a 42-37-1 record in addition to that Super Bowl ring and has drawn interest from several teams looking for a new head coach.
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Leslie Frazier, defensive coordinator, Bills
Frazier, 62, played cornerback for the Bears from 1981 through 1985 and helped the team win a Super Bowl ring during his final season. He has been an NFL coach since 1999 and is regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in the game today. The Bills ranked No. 1 in terms of yards and points allowed in 2021 and Frazier has coached three, top-three yardage units while in Buffalo. He coached the Vikings for three and a half years after becoming the interim in 2010 and logged a 21-32-1 record with one playoff appearance.
Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator, Buccaneers
Leftwich played 10 NFL seasons as a quarterback before coming a key assistant on Bruce Arians’ staff. The 41-year-old has served as an offensive coordinator the last four seasons in Arizona and Tampa Bay and has led three top-five offenses with Jameis Winston and Tom Brady serving as his quarterback. Leftwich checks a lot of boxes and could be a good mentor for Justin Fields.
BLACK MONDAY: Full list of coaches fired, openings across the NFL
Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator, Bills
Daboll has had four different stops as an NFL offensive coordinator, but he finally caught on with the Bills. He has overseen the development of Josh Allen since 2018 and turned an offense that was a bottom-three unit when he started in 2018 into a top-five unit in 2020 and 2021. The offensively-challenged Bears would surely appreciate that, along with Daboll’s experience working under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban.
Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator, Buccaneers
Bowles, 58, is regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, and he transformed Tampa Bay’s stop unit from middling to elite before their Super Bowl run. Some may look at Bowles’ 24-40 record with the Jets as a red flag, but he led the team to a shocking 10-6 record in his first season before lacking talent became too much of an issue. The Jets have gone just 13-36 since firing Bowles.
Matt Eberflus, defensive coordinator, Colts
Josh McDaniels hired Eberflus as part of his initial Colts staff before he decided not to take the job in 2018. Frank Reich kept Eberflus, 51, and the decision has been a good one. The Colts have consistently been an above-average to great defense and have finished top 10 in takeaways in each of Eberflus’ four seasons in Indy. He could be the man to bring the Bears defense back to top form.
IYER: Best fits to replace Matt Nagy with the Bears
Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator, Packers
The Bears have witnessed the work Hackett, 42, has done up close in the NFC North with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers passer has put together back-to-back MVP-caliber seasons under Hackett and has just proven that the coach works well with QBs. Hackett oversaw Blake Bortles’ best season, one where the Jaguars finished with a top-five offense, so that will make him an appealing candidate to work with Fields.
Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator, Cowboys
Quinn once led the Falcons to a Super Bowl, but his head coaching career went downhill after that. His name has picked up steam again after he turned around the Dallas defense, which ranked as one of the worst stop units in 2020 and now is decidedly solid. Quinn has a 43-42 career record as a coach despite posting losing seasons in each of his last three in Atlanta.