Chicago Bears: Why Tom Clements Is the Perfect Fit for Their Next Head Coach

Matt Eurich@@MattEurichAnalyst IJanuary 4, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL,  Tom Clements of the Green Bay Packers poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

When Lovie Smith was hired as the Chicago Bears' head coach in 2004 he stated that his main goal was to the beat the Green Bay Packers.

The Bears won six of their first eight games against the Packers during the Lovie Smith era, but dropped eight of their last 10, including the 2010 NFC Championship game.

Despite finishing with a 10-6 record this season Smith was fired by General Manager Phil Emery due to the team's consistent lack of performance on the offensive side of the football (h/t Chicago Sun-Times):

''We have had defensive excellence. However, during the course of coach Smith's career, we've had one offense that was ranked in the teens, I believe 15th [in 2006]. We have not had consistency on the offensive side of the ball. We have gone through a number of coordinators. We have searched for answers. The end result is that we did not have enough consistency.''

Emery acknowledged that it is time for a change offensively and what better way than trying to replicate the team that has consistently beaten you year after year?

Enter Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements.

Prior to the 2010 season, the Bears requested permission from the Packers to interview Clements, the then quarterbacks coach, but were denied.

The Bears went on to hire Mike Martz for two seasons before turning to Mike Tice for the 2012 season.  Both coordinators struggled during their tenures for various reasons; Martz was too stubborn to adjust his playbook around the players he had and Tice struggled having never been a play caller before.

In that time, Clements helped develop Aaron Rodgers into an MVP and a Super Bowl winning quarterback and eventually being promoted to offensive coordinator this offseason when then offensive coordinator Joe Philbin took the head coaching job in Miami.

As of the middle of the week though, the Packers have allowed Clements the opportunity to speak with the Bears and it appears they will do so sometime after the Packers playoff game Saturday night (h/t ESPN).

The Packers offense under Clements regressed this season in comparison to last season under Philbin, going from third in the league to 13th, but given the injuries to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Cedric Benson, James Starks and along the offensive line as well, it is no surprise that there was some drop off. 

Aaron Rodgers had yet another stellar season, throwing for nearly 4,300 yards while throwing 39 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. Clements has been widely regarded for his help in developing Rodgers and has had a solid track record as a quarterbacks coach.  During his time in Kansas City in 2000 he helped develop Elvis Grbac into a Pro Bowl quarterback as well as both Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox during his time in Pittsburgh.

He has been with the Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy since his hiring in 2006 and has helped develop their offense into one of the most prolific in the NFL.

The knock on Clements is his lack of experience being "the guy," having spent the majority of his career as a quarterbacks coach and not being able to call his own plays as offensive coordinator since those are McCarthy's responsibilities.

When asked during his press conference on Jan. 1 whether he thought Jay Cutler was the long term answer at quarterback, Bears' general manager Phil Emery said (h/t Chicago Sun-Times):

''Am I convinced that Jay has the talent to be that? Yes, I am. I see Jay as a franchise quarterback. We've got to build around him. That's been the goal from the beginning, to build around Jay and to build our team towards championships.''

Building around Jay Cutler and building a better offense will begin with their head coach and their offensive game plan.  Finding a guy that can push Cutler to become a better decision maker and more consistent on the field is key and given his track record, Tom Clements just may be that guy.