As the NFL gets set for another exhilarating playoff season, Chicago Bears fans are having their views of the team’s searching process clouded. More specifically, with each passing day, there is another talking head diminishing Chicago search for its next general manager and head coach following the firings of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, respectively.
What none of them are saying is that, despite a clunky end-of-season press conference and outside opinions of Bill Polian’s role in all of this, the Bears search has led them to speak with quality candidates.
Outside Noise is Clouding the View of the Chicago Bears Process
A Who’s Who
Initial reactions were positive when it was announced that Bill Polian would be aiding the Bears in their searches. Polian comes with a proven track record. One that includes building organizations up and hiring the right people to do so. People like Marv Levy with the Bills and Tony Dungy with the Indianapolis Colts.
That’s numerous Conference Champions, four straight Super Bowls with Buffalo, and a ring for the Colts.
As time passed, however, questions about the process began.
Polian’s time away from the game, his pre-draft assessment of Lamar Jackson, and his proximity to the Bears once this task is completed have all come under intense scrutiny in the days following the announcement of his involvement.
There was even a very lively complaint from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio about the Bears falling victim to Polian’s nepotism. That is where the line in the sand should be drawn.
Even a cursory glance at the list would reveal a plethora of quality candidates for both the head coaching and general manager positions. One could even go as far as to say they haven’t interviewed any poor candidates yet. None come without question marks. Nor do they come with the kind that Matt Nagy had following the Kansas City Chiefs 2017 Wild Card loss.
Those concerns certainly bore out over the last four seasons.
It is impossible to predict which candidates will pan out and which won’t. That goes tenfold for most of the general manager options. It is always unclear exactly what their duties were with their previous organization.
The Bears are doing the best thing a hiring organization can do. Trying to avoid that by hiring from organizations with solid track records including turnarounds like the Cleveland Browns.
“The hiring of Bill Polian as a consultant means you’re going to be hiring one of his friends, one of his cronies, a kid of one of his friends – definitely not one of his enemies,” Florio said. “You are trimming down the world of candidates to the people that Bill Polian would hire if he was the owner.” – Mike Florio via 670 The Score
Could this still fail? Of course! Nagy came from the Andy Reid tree and a blossoming Chiefs team. Ryan Pace was in the front office for one of the most consistent organizations in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. Let’s not forget that this is an art, not science and few teams boast van Gogh-level skills organizationally.
But if the Bears are beholden to “Polian’s cronies”, they have a good crop to choose from and have hired worst to more fanfare. There is also a contingent concerned they could hire a head coach before a general manager and shorten their list of options for the latter.
This is because, in his disaster of a press conference, George McCaskey said that is a possibility.
Again, this is where we need to watch their moves and not their words.
The thing is, messaging aside, by all accounts the ‘general manager’ will be in place before the ‘head coach’. And in the Bears power structure, the general manager operates as the highly-discussed ‘football czar’ while the coach gets say over the roster; at least, that is how it was under Nagy and Pace.
As far as their list possibly conflicting with that of a new general manager, until they hire out of order, there is no harm in compiling their list of candidates, providing the incoming exec with additional intel.
A defiant stance at the press conference, including with a beloved team figure, lent itself to this narrative that the Bears are screwing this up.
Skin in the Game
The wildest proclamation from those who are down on the Bears has to be their insistence that Polian having no ties to the organization beyond this current duty is a detriment. That, because he won’t have to deal with the ramifications, he isn’t as invested to course-correct a wayward franchise. Some were understandably taken aback by how many times McCaskey referred to Polian’s book.
This could be as simple as pointing out the list of candidates the Bears have already compiled, many of which made our wishlist.
But it is worth noting that, while Polian is leading the way, team officials are helping guide the decision. That includes one in Lamar Campbell who most say has a good pulse on the locker room.
Polian also isn’t switching Justin Fields to wide receiver like he suggested Jackson should do. He won’t have that kind of power.
It is funny that is going around at the same time as complaints he won’t be around after this.
He wasn’t the only one to suggest such a preposterous thing. He certainly won’t be the last. That is why giving him a consultant’s role is as far as the relationship should go. The Bears have not indicated that anything else is in the plans.
Ignore Noise Around Bears Process
It cannot be stated enough, the Bears could certainly come out of this with the wrong people. Just as either of the other two teams searching for general managers or the eight looking for head coaches could. The Bears are not unique in needing circumstances to align with preparation. They can only control one of those things.
Despite all of the noise to the contrary, the Bears are doing the things they should be. At least they appear to be from the outside looking, and not listening, in. Getting smart people to find smart people and getting out of the way.
The Bears are easy to dunk on. Predetermining the results, however, has rarely been a surefire exercise in any endeavor.
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