After parting ways with four members of their coaching staff Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Bears are in need of a few important position coaches.
The Bears fired offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride and assistant special teams coach Brock Olivo. They replaced Hiestand the following day, hiring veteran Juan Castillo, who worked with Bears head coach Matt Nagy from 2008-2012. Castillo will serve as the team’s new offensive line coach, but the team has yet to hire a new OC.
At the Bears’ year end press conference on Tuesday, Nagy said he would continue on as play-caller despite receiving a great deal of criticism throughout the season for the job he did doing just that. Thus, whomever comes into Chicago will not be expected to handle play-calling duties.
After Pat Shurmur was recently fired as head coach of the New York Giants, some assumed he may be an ideal candidate for the offensive coordinator position in Chicago, but after Nagy chose Castillo, it seems he may be leaning more towards coaches he has experience working with, or coaches he knows personally. We’re leaving Shurmur off this list for that reason. With that in mind, here are five potential candidates for the Bears’ vacant OC position:
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- The current Bears quarterbacks coach could be promoted within, and if the Bears do choose to promote one a member of their current coaching staff, Ragone seems like the most likely candidate. He has worked with Mitchell Trubisky for three seasons, and he has worked with Nagy for two.
Ragone has no play-calling experience, but that wouldn’t be something he’d be asked to do. Prior to his work with the Bears, Ragone worked with Kirk Cousins in Washington and he coached both quarterbacks and wide receivers in Tennessee.
Early word on Twitter is that Kafka, the current quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, is Nagy’s top target right now.
Kafka is an interesting choice here, because he doesn’t have a ton of experience coaching in the NFL. He was a journeyman quarterback who did not play much, playing for seven different teams in six seasons. His career as a QB began with the Eagles in 2010-11, and it ended in 2015 with the Cincinnati Bengals.
He took a job as a graduate assistant with Northwestern in 2016, and worked with Nagy for a year in 2017, when he was the offensive quality control coach for the Chiefs. In 2018, he took over as quarterbacks coach, working with Patrick Mahomes over the last two seasons.
Kafka is 32 years old, and he would be someone Nagy could mentor. Right now, he seems to be a frontrunner.
Chung has also worked with Nagy in the past. He was the Eagles offensive line assistant under Andy Reid from 2010-2012. and he followed Reid to Kansas City in 2013, keeping that same position in Kansas City until he left to coach the Eagles again from 2016-2019, where he worked with the offensive line, tight ends and running backs — all of which were areas of need for the Bears this year. Doug Pederson chose not to renew Chung’s contract last year, and he did not coach this season, but he could be an interesting option considering his experience.
Mornhinweg has the most experience of anyone included here, and he is one of the more experienced offensive minds working right now. He has been coaching since 1985, and he also has a connection with Nagy. Both were on the Eagles staff from 2008-2012, in which time Mornhinweg was Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator and assistant coach.
Mornhinweg would be an intriguing option for the Bears, because he would provide an experienced veteran presence while also checking the previously-worked-with-Nagy box. He was most recently the OC for the Ravens from 2016-2018. He did not coach in the NFL this season.
Corey Matthaei is the dark horse candidate here. While he’s a long shot to become the next Bears OC, his resumé may be worth a look over. Matthaei has spent the last six seasons with Andy Reid in Kansas City, and he was with Reid in Philly prior to that. He has been coaching in the NFL since 2006, and he knows Nagy well.
He is currently the Chiefs’ assistant offensive line coach, a position he has held since 2015. He has also been an offensive quality control coach, and he would be an interesting option largely because he may be able to bring Nagy some fresh ideas that could help with Chicago’s overall offensive scheme.