As it ought to be, an offense-oriented guy is Bears’ focus
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Emery might conclude his search for a new coach sooner than later, perhaps in time for the East-West Shrine Game next Saturday. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Phil Emery said nobody would be excluded as a candidate for the Bears’ coaching job. But from the beginning, his actions made it clear which direction he was headed.
Offense. Offense. Offense.
Maybe a defensive guy would be the best candidate. Maybe he wouldn’t. But it doesn’t matter. After watching last weekend’s playoff games, it’s pretty obvious what the Bears need most are points, points, points.
With (in alphabetical order) Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman on Emery’s short list, it’s at least good to know that Emery got the message.
As the recent playoff thrillers proved, you win by putting pressure on your opponent. And — as the Broncos and Falcons found out — you put your fate in somebody else’s hands by failing to put pressure on your opponent. It’s not only about offense; it’s about aggression.
Even Bill Belichick took his foot off the pedal at the end of the first half against the Houston Texans on Sunday, and it forced him to have to coach in the second half of a 41-28 victory.
Will Arians, Bevell or Trestman be able to maximize Jay Cutler, turn the Bears’ offensive line into a mean machine instead of a work-in-progress and develop a pass-catching tight end that will give the team the offense it needs? Who knows? But Emery is giving himself three chances to find that guy.
Considering the makeup of the Bears, offense is the way to go. It’s true you could hire a defensive-oriented coach who could hire a great offensive coordinator. But if that guy leaves, then you’ve got to hire another guy. And then Cutler — if he ends up sticking around after 2013 — is ‘‘in the first year of this offense’’ again. You hire a play-caller as your head coach — such as Mike McCarthy or Sean Payton — and a new offensive coordinator is an adjustment instead of a massive upheaval.
And while several league sources think Trestman is the favorite, on paper Arians best fits the profile Emery laid out in his news conference the day after he fired Lovie Smith. And here’s just one part of his game that bodes well for the Bears: He scored more points and gained more yards in one game against the Packers in 2012 than the Bears did in two games against the Packers under Mike Tice.
In Arians’ first game as interim coach for Chuck Pagano, the Colts used an up-tempo offense to gain 464 yards and score three touchdowns — all in the red zone — in a 30-27 victory against the Packers. The Colts ran a franchise-record 89 plays — the second-most in one game in regulation in the NFL last season. In the Bears’ two games against the Packers, they gained 358 yards on 105 plays and scored 23 points.
The Bears always had to wait for the right situation to use a no-huddle or up-tempo offense or roll out Cutler or use Matt Forte as a wide receiver. Arians does it because that’s what he wants to do.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri said it best: ‘‘He’s an aggressive coach. He’s not scared. And I appreciate coaches that go like that because they’re trying to win games.’’