Bears, Fassel likely to meet next week

Updated: January 2, 2004, 2:22 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears may be switching to offense in their search for a new head coach.

After first booking interviews this week with defensive coordinators Romeo Crennel of New England on Wednesday and St. Louis' Lovie Smith for Friday, the Bears also plan to talk with former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, probably Monday.

General manager Jerry Angelo and president Ted Phillips also reportedly are scheduled to interview Al Saunders, the Chiefs' assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, on Friday in the Kansas City area.

Saunders worked four seasons as the receivers coach in San Diego under Don Coryell, when the Chargers had one of the most wide-open and potent offenses in NFL history. His offense led the league in scoring this year and trounced the Bears 31-3 last Sunday.

The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that Saunders, who turned down the job at Nebraska, will meet with Angelo and Phillips.

Fassel, the former New York Giants head coach, was contacted by the Bears, but first will interview with the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

Angelo has made it clear improving the Bears' offense, which sputtered for much of Dick Jauron's five-year tenure as head coach, is a top priority regardless of who the new coach is. Jauron was fired on Monday.

Fassel, who took the Giants to the playoffs three times and the Super Bowl in 2001, served as his own offensive coordinator during much of his time with the Giants, and previously was offensive coordinator with Arizona.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press