13 Bears Coaches

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13 Bears Coaches!! Chicago Bears are the NFL’s National Football Conference (NFC) North division team based in Chicago. The franchise came to life on September 20, 1919, and became professional on September 17, 1920.

Throughout the team’s history of 103 years to date, there have been 17 head coaches. These coaches have held the franchise’s helm and led them to many victories.

Lovie Smith Bears Coach
Lovie Smith, Bears Coach (Source: Sports Illustrated)

The Bears have played over 1,000 games and are the second team in NFL with the most victories. Similarly, they hold the NFL record for the most Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees.

The current head coach for the team is Matthew Charles Eberflus, who was appointed in the position on January 27, 2022.

In this article, we are taking a trip back in time and looking at the first thirteen head coaches of the franchise. So get ready to learn about the first 13 Bears Coaches!

Quick Overview

Here is a little preview of the head coaches and their service terms with the Chicago Bears.

Name Coaching Terms
13. Lovie Smith 2004-2012
12. Dick Jauron 1999-2003
11. Dave Wannstedt 1993-1998
10. Mike Ditka 1982-1992
9. Neill Armstrong 1978-1981
8. Jack Pardee 1975-1977
7. Abe Gibron 1972-1974
6. Jim Dooley 1968-1971
5. Paddy Driscoll 1956-1957
4. Hunk Anderson 1942-1945
3. Ralph Jones 1930-1932
2. George Halas 1920-1929
1. Robert E. Brannan 1919

13 Bears Coaches

Our primary source of information for this article is WIKIPEDIA.ORG.

13. Lovie Smith

The 13th head coach of the Chicago Bears was Lovie Smith, who served in the position from 2004 to 2012. He is currently the head coach for another NFL franchise, the Houston Texans.

Smith began his coaching career in 1980 as the defensive coordinator for Big Sandy HS (TX). However, his NFL debut came much later, in 1996. He made his NFL debut as the linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Lovie Smith
Lovie Smith (Source: Wikimedia.org)

It was Smith’s first time as a head coach when Chicago Bears appointed him in the position. In 2005, as a Bears head coach, he won the AP Coach of the Year and Pro Football Weekly Coach of the Year awards.

On December 31, 2012, Smith was fired from his position. He served for nine years before departing with the Bears.

12. Dick Jauron

Dick Jauron is a former football player and a coach who served as the head coach of the Bears from 1999 to 2003. He is number 12 on our list of 13 Bears coaches.

Jauron played eight seasons in the NFL before beginning his coaching career in 1985. He started as the defensive backs coach for the Buffalo Bills.

Dick Jauron
Dick Jauron (Source: JC Ridley Archive)

Similarly, he also served for the Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars. Then, the Chicago Bears appointed Jauron as their head coach becoming their twelfth head coach, and he spent five seasons with the franchise.

With the team, Smith won the AP Coach of the Year, Pro Football Weekly Coach of the Year, and Sporting News Coach of the Year in 2001.

After the 2003 season, the Bears fired Jauron and, thus, ended his term with the franchise.

11. Dave Wannstedt

Number 11 of the 13 Bears coaches list is the former football coach, Dave Wannstedt. He served as the franchise’s head coach from 1993 to 1998.

Wannstedt began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Pitt in 1975. Similarly, he made his NFL debut as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989.

Dave Wannstedt
Dave Wannstedt For Pitt (Source: PennLive.com)

In his six seasons with the Bears, his tenure was turbulent. The Bears made only one postseason appearance under his coaching, with a record of 41-57.

He was named the UPI NFC Coach of the Year in 1994, the only achievement he won while working with the Bears. The franchise fired him from the head coach position on December 28, 1998.

10. Mike Ditka

The tenth Chicago Bears head coach is Mike Ditka, a former football player. The Pro Football Hall of Famer won 106 games with the Bears, the second-most in the franchise’s history.

Ditka began his NFL career with the Bears as a professional player in 1961. After retiring from his playing career, he transitioned into a football coach.

He began as the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys in 1973. Then the Bears hired him as their head coach for the 1982 season.

Mike Ditka
Mike Ditka For The Bears (Source: Time online)

With Ditka in charge, the team experienced turnover, bringing the franchise back to prominence. His coaching reached to pinnacle on January 26, 1986, when the Bears defeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.

His notable wins with the Bears are the 1985 Super Bowl Championship, AP Coach of the Year twice, Pro Football Weekly Coach of the Year, UPI NFC Coach of the Year twice, and Sporting News Coach of the Year.

Also, Read About The 20 Black NFL Coaches

9. Neill Armstrong

Next, we have the franchise’s ninth head coach, Neill Armstrong. He was a former professional football player turned into a coach.

Armstrong’s NFL career as a player spanned from 1947 to 1951, which he spent entirely with Philadelphia Eagles. He began his coaching career in 1962 as an assistant coach for the Houston Oilers.

Neil Armstrong, former Chicago Bears Head Coach
Neil Armstrong, former Chicago Bears Head Coach (Source: Pinterest)

Similarly, Armstrong also worked with Edmonton Eskimos and Minnesota Vikings before he was hired as the Bears’ head coach on February 16, 1978. He served in the position for four seasons.

During his tenure, Armstrong could lead the team to only one playoff appearance in 1979 and compiled a record of 30-35. Unfortunately, he could not make notable achievements while working with the Bears.

8. Jack Pardee

Number 8 on the list of the 13 Bears coaches is Jack Pardee, whose tenure with the franchise spanned from 1975 to 1977. He was also a former professional football linebacker.

Pardee played as a professional player from 1954 to 1973. After retiring, he began coaching for the Florida Blazers in 1974.

Jack Pardee
Jack Pardee (Source: Wikimedia.org)

He was the head coach to work in college football, NFL, the United States Football League (USFL), the World Football League (WFL), and the Canadian Football League.

In his three seasons as the Bears’ head coach, Pardee led the team to their first playoff berth in 14 years in 1977. Similarly, he was awarded the UPI NFC Coach of the Year in 1976.

7. Abe Gibron

The seventh head coach of the Bears is a former football player and coach Abe Gibron. He became the head coach of the franchise in 1972 and served in the position until 1974.

As a player, Gibron made his NFL debut in 1949 with the Buffalo Bills. Similarly, he made his coaching debut as the offensive line coach for the Washington Redskins in 1960.

Before being appointed head coach, Gibron was already serving the Bears. From 1965 to 1969, he was the team’s offensive line coach, and from 1970 to 1971, he was their defensive coordinator and defensive line coach.

Abe Gibron
Abe Gibron (Source: ESPN)

However, Gibron’s coaching tenure with the Bears was relatively unsuccessful. He had a .268 winning percentage, the worst record for a non-interim coach in the franchise’s history.

Consequently, he was fired two days after the final game of the 1974 NFL season. 

6. Jim Dooley

We have another former football player turned coach on our number 6 of the 13 Bears coaches. He served as the franchise’s head coach from 1968 to 1971.

The Bears selected Dooley in the first round as the eighth overall of the 1952 NFL Draft. In his professional playing career from 1952 to 1961, he played entirely with the Bears.

After his playing career, Dooley began coaching as an assistant for the Bears in 1963. He was promoted as the team’s defensive coordinator in 1966 and later as a head coach in 1968.

Jim Dooley
Jim Dooley (Source: Pinterest)

Although the team won half of their game at the beginning of the season, the success did not last. The following year, the franchise posted its worst-ever 1-13 record. The rest of Dooley’s tenure was also unsuccessful.

Consequently, Dooley became the first Bears coach to be fired from his position on December 29, 1971.

5. Paddy Driscoll

The fifth Bears coach is the former football player and coach Paddy Driscoll. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was also regarded as the best drop kicker and overall player of the early NFL.

Driscoll played professionally from 1917 to 1929. He began coaching before retiring from professionally playing football. He made his coaching debut as the head coach for the Chicago Cardinals in 1920.

Paddy Driscoll
Paddy Driscoll (Source: PSA Card)

In 1941, Driscoll was appointed an assistant coach for the Chicago Bears. Later in 1956, he was hired as the head coach for the franchise.

Under his coaching, he led the team to the 1956 NFL Western Division championship with a record of 9-2-1. However, the Bears lost to the New York Giants in the 1956 NFL Championship Game.

Also, Read About The 15 NFL Coaches in 2022

4. Hunk Anderson

On number 4, we have Hunk Anderson, who served the franchise between 1942 to 1945. He was a former football player who later transitioned into a coach.

Anderson began his playing career with Notre Dame in 1918. His professional playing career started from 1918 to 1925, during which he played for the Chicago Bears. In 1927, he became an assistant coach for Notre Dame.

Hunk Anderson, 1920
Hunk Anderson, 1920 (Source: ww2.clkschools.org)

In 1942, Anderson was appointed the head coach for the Bears. During his tenure, he led the team and won the 1943 NFL Championship with a compiled record of 24-12.

3. Ralph Jones

Ralph Jones is the third head coach on our list of 13 Bears coaches. He was a high school, college football, and basketball coach appointed in the head coach position for the Bears from 1930 to 1932.

Jones took over the position after George Galas retired in 1930. He revolutionized the T-formation by introducing wide ends and a halfback in motion. Similarly, he lined the quarterback directly under center for the first time.

Ralph Jones
Ralph Jones (Source: Hoopshall)

Although Jones led the Bears to a 24-10-7 record, the economic depression affected the finance of the franchise. As a result, although the Bears won the NFL championship in 1932 but still suffered financially.

Jones had a winning percentage of .706 while serving the Bears, which is the best in franchise history.

2. George Halas

Nicknamed “Papa Bear” and “Mr. Everything,” George Halas was the second head coach of the Chicago Bears franchise. He was also the founder and owner of the Bears and was the head coach on four occasions.

Halas was a professional football player who played from 1919 to 1929. The Chicago Bears were originally named Decatur Staleys and later changed to Chicago Staleys.

It was Halas who renamed the franchise the Chicago Bears. Similarly, he also led the team to their first NFL championship in 1921. He and Clark Shaughnessy duo created a revolutionary concept with the T-formation offense.

George Halas
George Halas (Source: Britannica)

A lesser-known fact about him is that he was a professional baseball player for the MLB franchise, New York Yankees.

Halas’s final decade as the Bears’ head coach was from 1958 to 1967. He was the oldest person to serve as the head coach in NFL history at age 72 years and 318 days.

1. Robert E. Brannan

The very first head coach of the Chicago Bears was Robert E. Brannan. He served as a head coach for the franchise in 1919, when they were known as the Decatur Stanleys.

Brannan was a multi-sport player who played football, basketball, and baseball. After retiring, he began his coaching career in football for the Millikin in 1918.

Although the complete records of his time with the Bears are unavailable, Brannan led the franchise to win the Central Illinois championship, and he worked with the team for only one season.

The first coach of the Bears franchise passed away at age 66 on August 6, 1958.

Conclusion

So these were the first 13 Bear coaches who helped to establish the franchise to its current position as one of the most successful NFL teams.

Under the skillful coaching of the different coaches, the Chicago Bears have won nine League championships, four Conference championships, and 19 Division championships.

The team is currently coached by Matthew Charles Eberflus, who was appointed in the position on January 27, 2022.

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