Bears should take a long look at Paul Hackett

Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times recently chimed in on the Bears’ offensive coordinator dilemma (as in, it’s almost February and they don’t have one) and suggested that Jim Zorn should be on the team’s radar.

On the surface, hiring Zorn might offer the Bears some value. Outside of Mike Martz, he’s the biggest name available and he did have success with the Redskins in 2008 before they crashed and burned during the second half of the season.

But the problem that Jensen seems to forget is that Zorn was a disaster this past year in Washington and had his offensive play-calling duties stripped from him mid-season. Granted, that doesn’t mean Zorn can’t rebound and become a successful OC elsewhere, but there are seemingly better candidates available.

One in particular is current Raiders quarterback coach Paul Hackett. He has a ton of experience working with quarterbacks and had successful stints as an offensive coordinator with the Chiefs (’93-’97) and Jets (’01-’04) before settling in as a QB coach for the Bucs and Raiders over the past four years. He also recruited Carson Palmer when he was the head coach at USC.

During his five years as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, the Chiefs made the playoffs in four of those five seasons. They also ranked fifth in offense in his last year there before taking over as USC’s head coach from 1998 to 2000. During his stint in New York, the Jets made the playoffs in three of his four years and while his offenses never cracked the top 10, don’t forget that the J.E.T.S. didn’t have a roster full of Pro Bowlers on the offensive side of the ball.

Hackett is highly considered one of the best at working with quarterbacks. If there’s one person that could develop Cutler and make him reach his expectations, it might be Hackett. That said, Hackett does come from a West Coast Offense background and that may or may not suit Cutler. But maybe what Cutler needs is to be in a structured system, as opposed to a spread offense like the one Martz runs, where he would be more apt to freelance.

Another name the Bears should consider is Falcons’ QB coach Bill Musgrave, who has worked in developing Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan over the past couple years. But if both men were interested, the Bears might be more apt to giving Hackett a try seeing as how he has way more experience. Of course, whoever the Bears hire will still have the unenviable task of not only trying to develop Cutler, but also turning around a unit that couldn’t run the ball behind a brutal offensive line.

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