When general manager Phil Emery spoke of what the Chicago Bears defense lacked this past season, he referenced leadership numerous times. If it’s leadership they need, they should bring back a familiar face in Mike Singletary.
Singletary was the leader of the great Bears defenses in the 1980s and vaulted up the coaching latter, but is now looking for work and the Bears should give him a call.
Emery knows Singletary, who was one of the team’s first interviews when he was looking for a replacement for Lovie Smith.
Some thought that interview was a favor to the McCaskey’s, but when has Emery been known to waste time? The Bears had already met the Rooney Rule requirements by interviewing Keith Armstrong and Singletary told the Chicago Tribune’s Fred Mitchell the interview lasted over five hours.
There is no evidence that suggests it was a token interview, Singletary was given serious consideration for the Bears head job. Now it’s time for Emery to call him again.
Singletary didn’t start coaching until 2003 when he joined the Baltimore Ravens staff as an inside linebackers coach.
His work there earned a lot of praise from future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who compared their relationship to a marriage. In addition to getting production from Lewis, Singletary helped develop Ed Hartwell into one of the better 3-4 inside linebackers in the league.
When Baltimore defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was hired as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, one of his first hires was Singletary as an assistant head coach/linebackers. Another was Mike McCarthy as his offensive coordinator.
Singletary got to know linebacker Patrick Willis as his position coach in the Senior Bowl and shortly after the 49ers made him their first round pick. Under Singletary’s guidance, Willis developed into arguably the best inside linebacker in the league.
Singletary also played a key role in getting three of the best seasons of Takeo Spikes’ career after his 30th birthday.
After Nolan was fired, Singletary took over his job on an interim basis before getting it full-time. He went 18-22 in his career with the 49ers, the same winning percentage Bill Belichick had with the Cleveland Browns.
During his time as the head coach, the 49ers drafted Navarro Bowman. They also picked up Ahmad Brooks, who was thought to have been a bust by the Bengals. According to CBS Sacramento, Brooks caught the eye of Singletary who started using him more to bolster the team’s pass rush.
As the 49ers prepare for their third straight NFC Championship game on Sunday, Willis, Bowman and Brooks are three of their best defensive players.
After being fired from the 49ers, Singletary caught on with former Bears teammate Leslie Frazier, who hired him as a special assistant to the head coach/linebackers.
There have been rumors surfacing that Singletary was demoted after one season. In reality, it was defensive coordinator Fred Pagac who was demoted. Frazier fired Pagac as the coordinator and offered him the job as linebackers coach—which he had done before being promoted to coordinator. Frazier admitted he was surprised Pagac took the demotion and it left the team with two linebackers coaches.
While Pagac was demoted, Singletary’s job title remained unchanged. Although he had less responsibility with the linebackers, he had more with the rest of the team.
Singletary’s first year with the Vikings was also a breakout season for Erin Henderson. Henderson had a total of 26 tackles in his first three seasons in the league, but totalled 70 in 2011. Singletary also seemed to be the point man when referencing Audie Cole, a former seventh-rounder who averaged over 10 tackles per game when he broke into the starting lineup in November of this past season.
With his background full of nothing but downhill defenses, Singletary wasn’t a great fit coaching a Cover 2 team in Minnesota. That experience, however, is one more thing that adds to his already impressive resume.
There is no question that Singletary’s resume at developing linebackers is impressive, but it’s his ability to lead and turn football players into men that should most interest the Bears.
While Singletary is famous for a rant about 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. That game and that rant are what Davis considers keys to his development and maturation as he says Singletary is “like a father.”
The Bears are going to be very young on defense next season. While they may not add to their linebacker position, they still need leadership to help get the most out of talented prospects like Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and Shea McClellin.
In addition to their development as players, the Bears need them to develop into leaders. Lance Briggs is currently the leader of their defense, but he is in the last year of his contract and near the end of his career.
Singletary has shown he can get the most out of talented players, but, just as importantly, he’s proven he can develop them as men.
The Bears would probably like to add a more experienced linebackers coach—perhaps Pagac—to work with Singletary and help refine technique and fundamentals.
What Singletary lacks in experience coaching the position, he makes up for with his leadership, what thought the team lacked the most last season and they’ll need in the future.