Most casual watchers of the NFL probably don’t know about the Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule was passed by the league about a decade ago to expedite the hiring and promotions of minorities within the coaching ranks in professional football. The idea was conceived by Dan Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who passed away last year. The rule basically says that you must interview a minority candidate for the position of head coach before you complete the hiring process and formally introduce that person.
The Bears were believed to be among several teams, by the local media, to request an interview with Steve Wilks, the minority candidate flavor of this off-season. He is the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, who is reportedly being sought after for interviews by at least three other teams. There are currently six opening for head coaches in the NFL. The Bears were thought to be one of those teams and when one writer called Carolina and found out the Bears had made no request, that writer wrote an article saying the Bears had inexplicably cooled on Steve Wilks.
The Bears three amigos hiring triumvirate, of GM Ryan Pace, chairman George McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips, went in a different direction… to Minnesota. Knowing that they should interview Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who has done a terrific job with the revolving quarterback situation there, guiding Sam Bradford and journeyman Case Keenum to a 13-3 record. The Bears decided that they should also interview defensive coordinator George Edwards as well, because he would fulfill their Rooney Rule obligation. This move is shrewd for a couple of reasons.
First, it allowed the Bears face time with their enemy. The Vikings have the league’s top ranked defense and are a principle rival within their own division. To find out anything having to do with a coaching philosophy and how he views the Bears offense can only help the Bears in seasons to come against Minnesota.
Second, by interviewing the relatively inexperienced Edwards first, who has only been coordinator for a couple of years, the Bears can make an offer right away to the next candidate that they interview. Head coach Mike Zimmer is considered the real defensive genius of the Vikings.
That next interview should be Pat Shurmur, since they are already there in Minnesota. Shurmur, is about to begin preparations for the Vikings next opponent, who have this weekend off because they earned a bye week by having the second best record in the National Football Conference. Shurmur has a short window in the midst of the playoffs to conduct interviews, and may decide to take the job if offered quickly, if he likes the sales pitch and the idea of grooming young Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
As seemingly the first team to satisfy the Rooney Rule obligation, the Bears three amigos, are in a position to strike quickly and hire Shurmur, or John DeFillipo, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach, before these men are tied up, for what could be weeks, as they try to reach the Super Bowl. Once an agreement is reached in principle with either man, they must fulfill their obligations to their current teams and the Bears will have to wait until their teams are eliminated in the playoffs to speak to either man again.
The Bears are free meanwhile to speak to and hire anyone who is not involved in the playoffs.
We should know quite a bit by Sunday morning by which time these interviews will have taken place and these men will no longer be available to the Bears or the press.
And remember…haste makes waste.