Maybe Jimmy Johnson was right, after all.
Three finalists have emerged in the search for the Bears’ next head coach, according to published reports. Ten other candidates will become Bears trivia answers some day.
The trio of Bears finalists includes Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman and Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, according to ESPN, as well as Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, according to the Sun-Times.
All three candidates fit the mold of what Emery said he wanted.
The Bears needed someone who could install a 21st century offense at Halas Hall, and all three finalists have proved to be capable play-callers in the NFL.
Trestman called plays for four NFL teams before he accepted a head coaching job with the Montreal Alouettes. Bevell served as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings before taking the same job with the Seahawks. Arians has drawn high praise during his career as the play-caller for the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and now the Colts.
No matter which finalist gets the job, that person will offer a stark contrast to Lovie Smith.
Whereas Smith was a defensive-minded coach who preached about the value of takeaways, Trestman, Bevell and Arians are more concerned with how to score touchdowns. Whereas Smith helped Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings develop into Pro Bowl cornerbacks, the Bears’ finalists are much more likely to try to develop a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Trestman worked closely with Steve Young and Rich Gannon, among others, before he crossed the border. He trained Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell as collegiate prospects and worked one-on-one with others such as Tim Tebow and Brandon Weeden.
Chances are good that Trestman has an idea or two about how to help Cutler improve. Maybe we should ask Johnson, who wrote on Twitter last week that he thought Trestman would get the Bears’ job before back-tracking and erasing the message.
Meanwhile, Bevell made a name for himself as Brett Favre’s position coach in Green Bay. Bevell helped Favre resurrect his career in Minnesota, and he has proved that he could help a young quarterback develop this season with the unexpected success of Russell Wilson.
As for Arians, he worked with a young quarterback named Peyton Manning, who apparently turned out to be an OK player. He also helped Ben Roethlisberger become one of the NFL’s mainstays at quarterback, and this season he guided rookie No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck.
By all accounts, all three finalists also are team-first employees who will work side by side with Emery to try to turn the Bears into a perennial playoff contender.
Consider the traits that Emery emphasized Jan. 1 during his lengthy news conference.
“I want somebody that has high energy,” Emery said. “Somebody that pulls people together in the building. Whatever his personality subset is, or however he approaches it, I want somebody that has some warmth, that pulls everybody together, and that [has] synergy not only with our players but with everybody in the building to work toward our common goal.”
After the Bears fired Jerry Angelo a year ago, nobody expected Emery to get the job. For decades, he had worked in the shadows as a scout and then as a college scouting director.
Likewise, who would have expected Trestman to find a spot on the list of finalists a couple of weeks ago? At the beginning of the season, who would have predicted that the offensive coordinators for Indianapolis and Seattle would be the ones courted above all others?
It’s a tough league to predict.
It’s a big decision for the Bears.
It’s coming soon.
• Tom Musick covers Chicago professional sports for Shaw Media. Write to him at email@example.com.