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Chalk Talk

Are Bears going to hire GM first?

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Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Why are the Bears interviewing coaches before they even talk to candidates for general manager? I thought the new general manager would be doing the interviews for a new coach.

Ralph P.
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

The plan all along for the Bears has been to hire a general manager first and then have him involved in the search for a new head coach as you mentioned. But the reason the Bears interviewed two head-coaching candidates last week in Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is because NFL rules provide only a one-week window for assistant coaches of teams that have first-round playoff byes to be interviewed. That may end up being the only time those assistants are available to be interviewed. Assistants whose teams advance to the Super Bowl can be interviewed again during the week immediately following the conference championship games—but only if they had a first interview with that team. In other words, if Gase and/or Quinn reach the Super Bowl, the Bears wouldn't have been able to interview them the week after the conference title games if they hadn't interviewed them last week. Here's what Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said last Monday about hiring a general manager before a head coach: "The conventional timeline is to hire the general manager first, but [consultant] Ernie [Accorsi] has already advised us that if we see the right guy out there as a head coach we need to be prepared to move quickly to get him."

I've heard talk about the NFL possibly expanding the playoffs. What's the plan they're considering and do you think it will happen?

Evan B.
Wadsworth, Illinois

The plan that's being considered is adding a third wildcard team in each conference and giving only the top seed (rather than the top two seeds) a first-round bye. In that scenario, each conference would have an additional first-round game with the following seeds squaring off: No. 7 at No. 2, No. 6 at No. 3 and No. 5 at No. 4. The three first-round winners would then advance to the second round. Given the revenue that playoff games generate, I think there's a good chance the plan will be adopted as early as next season. Had there been a seventh playoff team this year, it would have been the Eagles in the NFC and the Texans in the AFC.

When was the last time the Bears played in San Diego as they do next season?

Phillip T.
Santa Clara, California

The Bears last played in San Diego in the 2007 season opener, losing 14-3 to the Chargers. In their first game after Super Bowl XLI, the Bears held LaDainian Tomlinson to just 25 yards on 17 carries but committed four turnovers and failed to score a touchdown. The Bears are 6-5 all-time against the Chargers, including 2-4 in San Diego.

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