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Ranking the NFL's 6 coaching vacancies: It's all about the QB

Ryan Pace’s position at Halas Hall was strengthened Monday with a two-year contract extension before the Bears general manager launched full speed into the coaching search.

He expressed “sincere optimism” in the direction the Bears are headed as they look for the 16th head coach in franchise history with Chairman George McCaskey and team President Ted Phillips assisting in the process.

What’s McCaskey’s pitch to prospective coaches?

“We’re what the league refers to as a legacy franchise,” he said. “We’ve been there from the start. We’re approaching our centennial, as well as the league’s. Chicago’s a great city. We have a roster that has a core of talent that needs to be developed. We’ve got a passionate fan base and we will give the coach everything he needs to succeed.”

How does the job stack up with the other five openings around the league right now? The Tribune contacted 20 front-office employees, head coaches, coordinators and position coaches across the league and asked them to rank the six teams with coaching vacancies in terms of most attractive to least attractive. (Six points were awarded for each first-place vote, five for each second-place vote, etc.)

Team: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th; Total

Raiders: 13, 3, 0, 2, 1, 1; 102

Lions: 3, 11, 5, 1, 0, 0; 96

Giants: 3, 1, 5, 5, 5, 1; 69

Colts: 1, 1, 7, 3, 3, 5; 59

Bears: 0, 3, 1, 8, 6, 2; 57

Cardinals: 0, 1, 2, 1, 5, 11; 37

Key comments (made on the condition of anonymity):

On ranking the Raiders first: “They went 12-4 last year and the only reason they didn’t go far in the playoffs was the quarterback broke his leg. The biggest mistake they made was firing the coordinator. That team is ready to win again now.”

On ranking the Bears second: “I really like the quarterback there and the running game is terrific. Think of all the guys they had to plug in on the offensive line and they still were able to run the ball. They have to find their next Alshon Jeffery and I like the defense. They need to find a couple linebackers.”

On ranking the Giants first: “Quarterback is obviously a huge piece of the equation. Then ownership and the market. The Giants are seen as a crown jewel by so many in our league. Regardless of anything else, upper-crust football men all envy it.”

On ranking Colts third: “It’s a QB league. If Andrew Luck can come back strong, that’s a really good job.”

On ranking the Raiders first: “Derek Carr, that offensive line, he’s got receivers and there’s Khalil Mack. Easy No. 1.”

On ranking the Giants fifth: “They were good last year, but you’ve got to find a QB, and that’s what so much is based on. Great ownership there and that counts.”

On ranking the Bears sixth: “The quarterback is an unknown and there’s almost no skill talent and no cornerbacks if they don’t bring back Kyle Fuller. But if the Colts can’t get Luck back, they’d be last by a mile.”

On ranking the Lions second: “If I took over the Lions, the first thing I’d do is establish the running game. The QB gets the (stuffing) knocked out of him when you’re not running the ball.”

On ranking the Colts sixth: “Could be much higher, but I just don’t know about the quarterback’s health.”

On ranking the Raiders sixth: “They have a QB, but the move to Las Vegas makes it tough. Just a lot you’d have to deal with.”

On ranking the Cardinals sixth:Carson Palmer just retired, so they’re looking for their quarterback and there have been too many injuries. If they have a stud QB, my bet is Bruce Arians doesn’t retire.”

On ranking the Bears fourth: “It’s either going to be a plum job because of Mitch Trubisky or everyone will be in trouble.”

On a team that’s not on the list: “I’d take the Browns No. 1 if Hue Jackson was out of there. All the money, the big draft picks, some young players and John Dorsey is there. They will be winning games quickly.”

bmbiggs@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @BradBiggs

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