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Chicago Bears coaching search: A look at the six known candidates

The Chicago Bears have six head coaching candidates already lined up. We take a look at each of them.

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Perhaps the real intrigue in the Chicago Bears' coaching search thus far has been who Phil Emery hasn't decided to interview, namely Chip Kelly and Andy Reid. Kelly and Reid are opposite sides of the coin insofar as NFL experience and general buzz, but in a league that lost seven head coaches the day after the regular season ended, Kelly and Reid have become arguably the two hottest names in the circuit. That the Bears apparently aren't interested in either is at least somewhat noteworthy.

I'll admit, I had dreams of Kelly bringing his deadly new-aged spread scheme to Chicago. Tom Fornelli detailed on this site why Kelly would be a great hire when the Bears still had two games left in the season, and the urgency with which other teams have sought him out only cements the fact that the Fiesta Bowl is likely to be his final college game. Kelly is thought to have the biggest upside of any coach available, but he also might carry the biggest price tag. Is that the reason Emery hasn't arranged an interview? It's certainly possible. Remember: Lovie was one of the NFL's lowest-paid coaches when he took the Bears to Super Bowl XLI and it's also possible the only reason he wasn't fired after 2009 was because Bears ownership didn't want to eat the final two seasons remaining on his contract. With the Browns, Eagles and Bills making a serious push for Kelly, it wouldn't be surprising if he's out-priced himself from the Bears' coaching search, as unfortunate as that is.

Reid is a different story. Yes, Reid is an offensive coach and found success with at least three different iterations of the Eagles' roster, but firing Smith to hire Reid would have seemed like a lateral move, at best. Reid is a fine coach and the Chiefs fans I know are understandably very excited about the possibility of him coming to Kansas City after a marathon interview on Wednesday. The Cardinals and Chargers are also in the mix. Andy Reid can get a team to respectability. Of course, the Bears were already there and have much bigger goals. The Bears are looking for the next great NFL head coach, not someone who can win nine or 10 games.

What we do know is that six men are on Phil Emery's radar, some have already interviewed and others will do so soon. They are Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong and Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. Let's take a look at each candidate.

Mike McCoy

If Kelly and Reid are the two hottest names on the circuit, McCoy finishes in third. The Broncos offensive coordinator will also interview with the Cardinals, the Bills and the Eagles. He will probably become a head coach this offseason.

McCoy is 40 years old and helped the Broncos finish the regular season on an 11-game winning streak to secure a tie for the best record in the NFL at 13-3. Denver's Peyton Manning-led offense was, of course, very good. The Broncos finished fourth in total offense (397 yards per game) and second in points per game (30.1). Denver threw the rock an average of 36.75 times per game and ran it 30 times per game. The Broncos finished No. 2 in Football Outsiders DVOA for total offense.

Perhaps the best thing McCoy has going for him is ability to adapt. This is the man who tailored the Broncos' offense to Tim Tebow a season ago with shockingly successful results. Tebow was 8-5 with a playoff win under McCoy and now can't even find a backup job. That's got to be worth something.

Manning likes him, too:

"I tell you, he's a worker. We spend a lot of hours together — early mornings, late nights — trying to get kind of our plan in place for what kind of offense we were going to be. There's no substitute for a work ethic, and Mike certainly has that."

Denver Post’s Mike Klis described his demeanor as "presidential" and "vanilla." Right now, I'd say he has a very good chance of becoming the Bears' next head coach.

Tom Clements

The Bears tried to interview Clements for offensive coordinator in 2010 but the Packers blocked the lateral move. Green Bay can actually block the interview this time around too, at least if it goes on a run to the Super Bowl. League rules mandate that teams must grant assistants the opportunity to interview for any head coaching opening, but they don't *have* to do so until the season is over. If the Packers keep winning, would the Bears really wait a month to interview Clements? Probably not.

Here's what he know about Clements: he's worked with Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn and has found success with all of them. He is 59 years old and was a three-year starter at Notre Dame in the '70s, leading them to a national championship in 1973.

He's also a very smart dude. Wikipedia says:

While still in the CFL, Clements pursued a Juris Doctor degree, graduating magna cum laude from Notre Dame Law School in 1986. Upon the completion of his playing career, he practiced law in Chicago for five years.

The Packers finished No. 13 in total offense this season and fifth in points. Football Outsiders had the Packers at No. 3 in DVOA for team offense.

Mike Sullivan

Sullivan just completed his first season as the offensive coordinator of the Buccaneers and is thought to be one of the fastest-rising offensive assistants in the league, along with McCoy. He guided the Bucs to a No. 9 finish in total offense (363 yards per game) and helped Josh Freeman finish with some pretty damn impressive final numbers: 4,065 passing yards, 27 touchdowns to 17 interceptions, a 54.8 percent completion rate and a QB rating of 81.6. For comparison, Cutler finished with 1,000 fewer yards and eight fewer touchdowns.

Sullivan was an offensive assistant (wide receivers coach then quarterback coach) for the Giants before getting hired as OC in Tampa Bay. Perhaps he deserves some credit for Eli Manning's second Super Bowl season, in which he passed for 4,933 yards.

Here's what our Bucs blog had to say about Sullivan:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can ill afford to lose Mike Sullivan, who led one of the best offenses in Tampa Bay history this season. To go through another offensive system change could be disastrous for Josh Freeman and the Bucs offense. The current offense is complicated and takes time to fully understand, as we've been able to see plenty of times this season.

Pete Carmichael Jr.

Carmichael took over as Saints offensive coordinator after 2008 when Doug Marrone left to become the head coach at Syracuse. With Sean Payton suspended this season, Carmichael assumed play-calling responsibilities and would oversee the NFL's No. 2 ranked offense. The Saints 411 yards per game this year. Drew Brees is pretty good. New Orleans finished No. 9 in Football Outsiders' DVOA stat for team offense.

While Carmichael's pedigree appears impressive at first glance, at least one Saints fan wasn't too concerned about potentially losing him. Here's a comment from our Saints blog:

Really?!!??? Pete Carmichael Jr??

Yeah I understand that he was hampered by not having SP there to help him out, but seriously…. The lack of game balance, not giving the rock to the hot hand when teams couldn’t stop our running game, laying all the weight of winning a game on Brees’ shoulders, these are not the qualities I would want in a head coach. In fact, I don’t want these qualities in an offensive coordinator. Kromer was the HC for the beginning of the season, and we sucked. You know that PCJ was in charge of the offense during that time, and probably when Vitt came back, yeah our offense showed signs of greatness, when you got the best darn QB in the league at the helm, your gonna be good, but the stagnant 3rd and 4th quarters, the lack of running the ball, lack of quality time management, I lay that all on the OC. He can go to Chicago for all I care.

Keith Armstrong

Armstrong is the Falcons' special teams coach and has already interviewed. He satisfies the NFL's Rooney Rule for Emery and the Bears. While Armstrong doesn't have coordinator experience, he drew a glowing review from one Atlanta radio host.

Armstrong was also the Bears' special teams coach from 1997-2000.

Joe DeCamillis

Phil Emery and DeCamillis go back to their days with the Atlanta Falcons. Now the Cowboys special teams coach, DeCamillis is 47 years old and has been an NFL special teams coach since 1988. He was seriously injured in the Cowboys practice bubble collapse in 2009. From Wikipedia:

On May 2, 2009, the Dallas Cowboys practice facility collapsed during a wind storm. The collapse left DeCamillis and 11 other Cowboys players and coaches injured. DeCamillis and Rich Behm, the team's 33-year-old scouting assistant, received the most severe injuries. DeCamillis suffered fractured cervical vertebrae and had surgery to stabilize fractured vertebrae in his neck, and Behm was permanently paralyzed from the waist down after his spine was severed.[2] DeCamillis received much praise from the media and fans in the months following the incident for continuing to coach in his high energy style, wearing a neck brace, only 9 days following the incident.

Ricky O'Donnell is the editor of SB Nation Chicago. Follow him on Twitter or reach him at