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Bears' search far from finished

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Before long, it might be easier to name the top offensive coordinators whom the Bears do not want to interview.

The latest offensive-minded assistant to be linked to the Bears’ head coaching vacancy is Rick Dennison, who is in his third season as the offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans. The Bears asked for and received permission to interview Dennison for their head coaching vacancy, according to a report Sunday by ESPN.

Although Dennison might not be a household name to many football fans, he has spent nearly three decades in the league as a player and coach. He played linebacker for the Denver Broncos from 1982-90, and he remained in Denver as a coach from 1995-2009 before becoming the Texans’ offensive coordinator.

While in Denver, Dennison helped to design a top offense with Jay Cutler as his quarterback and Brandon Marshall as his No. 1 wide receiver. During Dennison’s tenure as offensive coordinator from 2006-08, the Broncos’ offense improved from No. 21 to No. 11 to No. 2.

Perhaps most importantly, Dennison designed an offensive scheme to protect Cutler from too many hits. Cutler was sacked 11 times in 16 starts in 2008, compared with 148 sacks in 56 starts since joining the Bears in 2009.

Upon joining former teammate and colleague Gary Kubiak in Houston, Dennison has helped the Texans to rank No. 3, No. 13 and No. 7 in total offense from 2010-12. The Texans will visit the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs next weekend.

Before becoming an offensive coordinator, Dennison worked as an offensive assistant (1995-96), a special-teams coach (1997-2000) and an offensive line coach (2001-05, 2009). A native of Montana, he grew up in Colorado and played football at Colorado State.

Dennison is the ninth candidate to be linked to the Bears’ head coaching vacancy. Others include:

• Mike McCoy, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator• Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator• Tom Clements, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator• Pete Carmichael, New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator• Mike Sullivan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator• Keith Armstrong, Atlanta Falcons special-teams coach• Joe DeCamillis, Dallas Cowboys special-teams coach• Marc Trestman, Montreal Alouettes head coach (CFL)

Although Emery said he would prefer to hire a coach before college football’s all-star games, such as the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19, he might have to wait beyond that date depending on which candidate he prefers. A deep run in the playoffs by the Broncos, Texans or another candidate’s team could delay the introduction of the Bears’ next head coach.

-Tom Musick

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