Thie Chicago Bears' head-coaching search is only just getting underway, but the list of targets is starting to take shape.
The candidates we know about thus far include one holdover from John Fox's staff, one former NFL head coach and more of a bent toward the offensive side of the football. GM Ryan Pace confirmed Monday that he's heading up the search following the firing of Fox after three seasons at the helm.
On Wednesday, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio interviewed for his one-time boss' head-coaching spot. Whether or not it's a token courtesy to the well-respected Fangio or if he's a legitimate candidate is unclear. His contract might be expiring, but the Bears reportedly would be interested in keeping Fangio around — even if he doesn't get the head job.
The only candidate yet reported with prior NFL head-coaching experience is Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who was promoted to the position after Norv Turner stepped down in the middle of the 2016 season. Shurmur has done a great job this season with one-time journeyman QB Case Keenum, who has helped lead the Vikings to a 13-3 record.
Shurmur was 9-23 with the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and 2012, but given the dysfunction of that franchise, his record there might not be viewed as a strike against him. The Browns have cycled through three head coaches since then, going a combined 15-65 the past five seasons. Shurmur also was 1-0 as an interim head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 following the firing of Chip Kelly.
The Bears also have submitted formal requests for two young, up-and-coming offensive coaches — Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. Both have elevated their statuses from low-level assistants to in-demand coaching candidates with the work they've done. DeFilippo also spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame in 2000 and 2001.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be the big fish Pace would love to reel in, but the Bears will have stiff competition. McDaniels already has been requested to speak with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants, along with Chicago, per reports.
His interest in the job could be high, depending on his view of QB Mitch Trubisky and the potential to groom him. And McDaniels already has a mole on the inside: His brother, Ben, served the past two years on the Bears' staff under Fox as an offensive assistant.
The two defensive-background coaches we know about are Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards and Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Both are African-American, which would satisfy the NFL's "Rooney Rule" that requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for either a head-coaching or a top executive role on teams.
Edwards, 60, has been in the NFL for almost two decades for a number of teams. He also has run Mike Zimmer's defense the past three seasons.
Wilks is familiar to some folks at Halas Hall, having previously coached the Bears' defensive backs from 2006 to 2008 before being fired and joining up with Ron Rivera — first when Rivera was defensive cordinator with the San Diego Chargers and later when Rivera became head coach in Carolina. Wilks also coached locally at Illinois State in 2000 and at Notre Dame in 2004.
Pace's list could expand or narrow quickly. With six head-coaching vacancies around the league, and many of the teams speaking with the same group of candidates, the Bears must be prepared to act fast. The playoffs begin Saturday, and Fangio is the only known candidate on the team's list that doesn't have a game coming up in the next two weeks.