The search is still on for the next head coach of the Chicago Bears, but a new report about potential candidate Jim Caldwell — along with Caldwell’s response to the report — have left many wondering exactly where the former Detroit Lions coach stands where the Bears are concerned.
He hasn’t been in the league for the last two seasons, but Caldwell has been a head coach three times before. He went 36–28 (.563) as head coach of the Lions from 2014-17, he was 26-22 in three seasons as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts (2009-11), and he also served as head coach at Wake Forest from 1993-2000. He is 2-4 in the postseason.
According to a Jan. 21 report from top ESPN insiders Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, Caldwell has become the new favorite to land the head coaching job in the Windy City — but Caldwell later responded to parts of the report, which he called “erroneous.” Let’s break down what was said and what to make of it.
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Caldwell Responds to ‘Erroneous Report’ From ESPN
“According to multiple sources, the Raiders and Vikings both reached out to former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell this week to request to interview him, and he declined both requests,” Graziano reported on Jan 21. “This indicates strongly that Caldwell believes he will get one of the other open jobs, and my understanding is that he’s in the mix in both Chicago and Jacksonville and already is reaching out to candidates for his staff.”
Graziano also noted that despite current Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus scoring a second interview with the Bears, he’s not one of the top three contenders to be the next head coach:
“If I had to bet right now, I’d say Caldwell ends up in Chicago, where former Colts general manager Bill Polian is helping direct the search, though it’s obviously interesting that Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is scheduled for a second interview there. The Bears were interviewing Bills defensive coordinator and former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier on Friday, and I’m told there’s still support for Frazier in their building. Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson is also someone to watch in Chicago if Caldwell doesn’t turn out to be its guy.”
Caldwell took to Twitter the morning of Jan. 22, calling one particular aspect of the report “erroneous:”
“I would like to correct an erroneous report that I turned down opportunities to interview for the head coaching job with Minnesota and Las Vegas. Those reports are not true,” he tweeted.
It’s interesting — and perhaps a bit telling — that Caldwell didn’t mention the part about him being a favorite to land the job in Chicago, nor did he deny that he was already reaching out to candidates to be his coordinators should he land the job. In fact, he didn’t mention the Bears at all.
Considering he took the time to address the report, if other parts had been false — like, say, the part about him already looking for a staff — he likely would have pointed that out, as well. The likely scenario is that Caldwell is a strong candidate to land the job in Chicago, but it’s not a lock, so he may not want to say too much about it.
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Would Caldwell Be Good Pairing With Justin Fields?
That’s the key question. Many in and around the league agree that the most important relationship on a football team is between the head coach and the quarterback. Caldwell has been out of the NFL for a few years, and it’s a league that changes quickly. At 67 years of age, it’s fair to wonder if he isn’t a bit outmoded to get the best out of a player with Fields’ skill set.
Caldwell has an impressive resumé, to be sure. He is an offensive-minded coach who has worked with some of the league’s best quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning from 2002 to 2008.
He was also always a cerebral and opportunistic leader who won over every locker room he ever coached in. He won 10 of 16 challenges as a head coach, which isn’t a bad ratio, and while there are certainly better offensive coaches who have been mentioned (Brian Daboll, Byron Leftwich and Jim Harbaugh, to name a few), the Bears could do worse than Caldwell. But they also could — and should at least try — to do better.