Haugh: Singletary mucks up Bears’ coaching search
(MCT) — Leave Phil Emery alone.
Let the Bears general manager do his job.
That is the message for whatever Halas Hall meddler coaxed Emery into adding Bears legend and Vikings linebacker coach Mike Singletary to the growing list of candidates for the head-coaching position. This could not have been Emery’s idea or else we all have been terribly fooled in Chicago. When did Emery start letting his heart overrule his head?
Emery spent 54 fascinating minutes last week articulating a reasonable coaching succession plan that restored confidence in the Bears organization’s ability to find the right man. He kept an open mind to all backgrounds but sounded like a guy who understood what he sought: A high-energy thinker with excellent organizational skills.
Then Emery embarked on a whirlwind quest that literally had no boundaries, including Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman, one of Emery’s 13 interviewees. There are award-winning telemarketers who have contacted fewer people the past week than Emery. A haphazard process, this wasn’t. Or so it seemed.
A majority of the men Emery targeted possess extensive offensive backgrounds, and league scuttlebutt even has suggested the Bears picked the brains of so many bright play-callers simply to expand their data base. (Bravo.) Several of the candidates coordinate special teams, including Bears holdover Dave Toub, who interviewed Monday but would be a constant reminder of the Lovie Smith era. All of the potential replacements have resumes that meet Emery’s stated criteria.
We could extol the virtues of Singletary the man and easily fill any four-hour sports-talk show. He prioritizes God and family and strives for balance in his life. Forget connecting with players, Singletary connects with people with uncommon spirit and sincerity. His face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Bears linebackers. He represented the Bears with as much pride and distinction as any player ever has.
That makes Singletary the most likely ‘85 Bear with whom you would like to share a meal or podium. That makes the strength of Singletary’s character an even more distinguishing trait of his than those wild eyes that once mesmerized cameramen and quarterbacks. That doesn’t make a guy the 49ers fired in 2010 after going 18-22 a viable coaching option — not compared to everybody else.
Singletary would be a smarter choice than Bruce Arians, the potential NFL Coach of the Year? Better than Mike McCoy or Tom Clements? Mike Sullivan? If the Bears aren’t serious about hiring Singletary, don’t insult one of their greatest players ever with a meaningless interview. If the Bears truly think they might hire Singletary, they can’t be serious.
This is the first time during Emery’s job search I thought uh-oh. Emery had regained the benefit of the doubt since his news conference until this odd departure from an otherwise thorough, methodical approach. This smacks of pandering to the Bears fans who long for more fire and passion from the next head coach. This smells like the influence of a McCaskey. This seems like a decision based on everything but football.
Because the Bears brought it up, Singletary failed pretty spectacularly as a head coach. He gained more renown in San Francisco for dropping his trousers at halftime or kicking tight end Vernon Davis off the field than making any impact in the standings. Style overshadowed substance; rants obscured results. The Bears team that went 10-6 struggled with execution and innovation more than motivation. Somebody needs to remind Emery to stay on point.
Nobody doubts Singletary would make the Bears compelling theater. But the Bears aren’t making a movie. They are trying to win a Super Bowl. They need to hire the man most likely to make that happen — not necessarily the most-liked across Beardom. Of all the things the franchise owes Singletary, it starts with honesty. And the truth is Singletary isn’t the right coach right now for the Bears based on what Emery described.
We can poke fun at how many frequent-flier miles Emery has accrued interviewing candidates. We can kid that Steve McMichael, who has head-coaching experience with the Chicago Slaughter, must be next on the list of Bears legends Emery will interview. Seriously, though, nothing matters until Emery introduces the 14th head coach in Bears history — presumably before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Not until then can anybody fairly pass judgment on whether the process did or didn’t work.
But the Singletary diversion seems like a waste of time for Emery, who wanted to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with his head coach by Jan. 19. Every interview matters. Every hour counts for a GM who started searching for his next coach like a guy who knew what he was doing.
So let Emery do it, his way.