Bears busy lining up coaching interviews

Published: Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 9:44 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — CHICAGO — Bears general manager Phil Emery has interviewed at least two head-coaching candidates and set up meetings with at least two others, but the timing for his interview with a division-rival candidate remains in limbo.

Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements confirmed a Tribune report saying the Bears had requested and had been granted permission to interview him. The timing of the interview, however, depends on the outcome of Saturday’s Packers-Vikings wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field.

According to the NFL anti-tampering policy, interviews with assistant coaches from wild-card teams that advance to the divisional playoff round can be conducted between the wild-card and divisional playoff game — meaning the Bears would have a window from Sunday to Friday to interview Clements. An inquiring club is permitted only one interview with an assistant coach while his team is competing in the postseason.

A Packers loss, of course, would leave no restrictions on the process with Clements. The Packers are not expected to make the Bears wait if they make a Super Bowl run, although they have the right to do so.

Clements addressed the topic in general terms Wednesday.

“The only thing I’ll say is they’ve requested permission and permission was granted,” Clements said, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. “And that’s it. I have no comment beyond that.”

The Bears wanted to interview Clements for their offensive coordinator position before the 2010 season but the Packers blocked them. Mike Martz was hired instead.

The other known candidates in the search to replace the fired Lovie Smith include special teams coaches Keith Armstrong of the Falcons and Joe DeCamillis of the Cowboys and offensive coordinators Mike Sullivan of the Buccaneers, Mike McCoy of the Broncos and Pete Carmichael of the Saints.

Emery worked with Armstrong previously with the Bears and Falcons and interviewed him for the job Tuesday in Atlanta. Sullivan met with Emery on Wednesday in Atlanta. ProFootballTalk reported Carmichael interviewed Wednesday.

In terms of top offenses in the league this season, Carmichael’s Saints were second (410.9 yards per game), McCoy’s Broncos fourth (397.9) and Clements’ Packers 13th (359.4) in total yards per game. All three offenses were in the top five in scoring at more than 27 points per game.

Emery is set to meet Saturday with DeCamillis in Dallas and with McCoy this weekend in Denver.

Because the Broncos have a first-round playoff bye, the team is making the highly regarded McCoy available Saturday and Sunday. McCoy also has interviews scheduled with the Bills, Cardinals and Eagles. After Sunday evening, he’s off limits for interviews until his season ends.

Armstrong, a minority candidate who also has drawn interest from the Chiefs and Eagles, was the Bears’ special teams coach from 1997-2000.

“He basically had us trained,” said former Bear Jerry Azumah, who played under Armstrong. “He had a system and everybody believed in that system. He had players that loved playing for him and loved playing under the system that he has had.”

Although two special-teams coordinators are on the Bears’ preliminary list, most figure Emery will target an offensive-minded coach such as McCoy, Clements, Sullivan or Carmichael.

Emery said offensive instability led to Smith’s firing on Monday. The Bears finished this season with the league’s 28th ranked offense at 310.6 yards per game.

Signing: The Bears signed defensive end Cheta Ozougwu to a reserve/future contract Wednesday. He appeared in two games this past season, recording three tackles against the Packers.

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