The Chicago Bears have had 17 head coaches in the franchise’s 100-plus-year history. Some of the previous 16 were significantly more successful than others, but either way, the Bears never have fired a coach midseason – nice work if you can get it.
Here’s a look at how Bears coaches fared and what the circumstances were when they left the franchise.
1920-29, 1933-42, 1946-55, 1958-67
record: 318-148-31 (.682)
Why he left: The founder and owner of the Bears, “Papa Bear” first stepped away after the 1929 season to focus on ownership duties but returned to the head coaching role in the middle of the Great Depression. After the outbreak of World War II, Halas re-enlisted in the Navy and was awarded a Bronze Star. After leaving with the rank of captain, Halas returned to the sidelines in 1946. He took a brief break from coaching in 1956-57 before his fourth and final stint prior to retiring from coaching.
The lowdown: In all, Halas coached for 40 seasons over five decades. His six NFL championships (1921, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1946 and 1963) are tied for the most in league history. Only Don Shula won more games.
record: 24-10-7 (.706)
Why he left: The financial losses incurred during the Great Depression saw Halas resume coaching duties in an effort to save on salary. Jones became Lake Forest College’s football (1933-48) and basketball (1933-39, 1945-46) coach.
The lowdown: When Halas gave up coaching in 1930, Jones ran the Bears for three seasons, winning a title in 1932. Jones was an innovator credited with being the first coach to position the quarterback under center.
record: 23-11-2 (.676)
Why he left: After Halas returned from World War II, Johnsos and Hunk Anderson resumed their roles as assistant coaches.
The lowdown: Former players Johnsos and Anderson served as co-head coaches when Halas entered the Navy during World War II. They won the championship in 1943. Johnsos was from Northwestern.
record: 23-11-2 (.676)
Why he left: After Halas returned from World War II, Anderson and Johnsos resumed their roles as assistant coaches.
The lowdown: As co-head coach with Johnsos, Anderson led the Bears to the 1943 NFL title. Before his time in the NFL, he took over Notre Dame after legendary coach Knute Rockne was killed in a plane crash in 1931. Anderson is credited with being the first to utilize the man-zone defensive hybrid.
record: 14-9-1 (.609)
Why he left: Driscoll moved into a front-office role as Halas returned for his final coaching stint.
The lowdown: In his first season, Driscoll led the Bears to the NFL title game, but they lost 47-7 to the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium. Before joining the Bears coaching staff in the 1940s, Driscoll was a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Cardinals and Bears. He also coached the Cardinals for three seasons in the 1920s.
record: 20-36 (.357)
Why he left: Dooley became the first Bears coach to be fired after going 6-8 in 1971.
The lowdown: When Halas left coaching for the final time in 1968, he named Dooley, a longtime assistant and former player, to replace him. Dooley’s unsuccessful tenure included a joint-worst 1-13 record in 1969. He later returned as an assistant under Mike Ditka.
record: 11-30-1 (.268)
Why he left: Gibron was fired after the 1974 season, when the Bears went 4-10.
The lowdown: Statistically the worst head coach in Bears history, Gibron was promoted to coach in 1972. His teams were 19 games under .500 when he was fired. The jocular Gibron then became coach of the Chicago Winds of the WFL.
record: 20-22 (.476)
Why he left: Pardee left the Bears after the 1977 season to become Washington’s head coach.
The lowdown: Pardee was the first true “outsider” to coach the Bears. In his third year at the helm in 1977, he led them to their first playoff berth in 14 years.
record: 30-34 (.469)
Why he left: Armstrong was fired after a 6-10 record in the 1981 season.
The lowdown: A Bud Grant disciple, Armstrong came to the Bears along with assistant Buddy Ryan. Armstrong, who previously coached Edmonton in the Canadian Football League, made just one playoff appearance as Bears coach. He joined the Dallas Cowboys as an assistant after the Bears fired him.
record: 106-62 (.631)
Why he left: Ditka was fired after going 5-11 in 1992.
The lowdown: The Hall of Fame tight end became a Bears legend for guiding the team to its only Super Bowl victory. Ditka’s 106 wins are second-most in franchise history, and he led the team to seven postseason appearances in 11 seasons.
record: 40-56 (.417)
Why he left: Wannstedt was fired in 1998 after back-to-back 4-12 seasons.
The lowdown: Ditka’s successor came highly regarded after coaching the Cowboys defense to a Super Bowl victory under Jimmy Johnson, but he made the playoffs only once as Bears coach. His 1-11 record against the Green Bay Packers didn’t help either.
record: 35-45 (.438)
Why he left: Jauron was fired after a 7-9 season in 2003.
The lowdown: The former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator made the playoffs only once in five seasons, but it was a memorable one. Jauron’s 2001 Bears went 13-3 in dramatic fashion and won the NFC Central, earning him NFL Coach of the Year honors.
record: 81-63 (.563)
Why he left: Smith was fired after going 10-6 in 2012.
The lowdown: The Cover-2 disciple was 18 games over .500 in nine years (3-3 in the playoffs) but was fired for missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. Smith is the only coach besides Ditka to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance.
record: 13-19 (.406)
Why he left: Trestman was fired for missing the playoffs in both of his seasons.
The lowdown: The CFL champion coach and purported “quarterback whisperer” had the offense flying in his first season. But a sudden regression and a lack of leadership led to a quick firing after Year 2.
record: 14-34 (.292)
Why he left: Fox was fired after his third season in charge.
The lowdown: After catalyzing rapid turnarounds for the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, Fox was expected to perform the same magic in Chicago. But the Bears spent the majority of his time with the team in last place in the NFC North.
record: 34-31 (.523)
Why he left: Nagy was fired after going 6-11 in his fourth season.
The lowdown: The former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator was brought in to establish a modern offense. After an impressive 12-4 start and division title in Nagy’s first season, the Bears steadily regressed with two .500 seasons before the final dip in 2021. They went 0-2 in the postseason under Nagy, while the offense was consistently among the league’s worst.
Why he left: n/a
The lowdown: Eberflus, the former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, was hired to be the 17th head coach in franchise history on Jan. 27, 2022.