The Chicago Bears Go Back to Chiefs Well for New Direction with Ryan Poles

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Finally, Chicago Bears fans can breathe a (baited) sigh of relief as the team finalizes the hiring of Chiefs Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Ryan Poles, to be their next general manager. The team has yet to announce as of this writing. But Adam Schefter has been joined by numerous other outlets to confirm.

The news comes hours after Bears Chairman, George McCaskey, was at the airport to pick Poles up complete with a branded jacket. It also serves to end concerns and speculation that they would hire a head coach first.

A Familiar Source is Expected to Provide the Chicago Bears with a New Direction

Pulling the Receipts

You can typically never be sure what duties individuals perform at their previous stop. But Poles, a former undrafted free agent with the Bears in 2008, was the focus of a piece from The Athletic’s Nate Taylor that details the Chiefs draft war room in 2017 (subscription required), the year they took Patrick Mahomes after the Bears took Mitchell Trubisky.

Poles was in Kansas City when Andy Reid arrived. He was instrumental in the process of trading up for Mahomes and, just this past offseason, in reconfiguring an offensive line many believe ultimately cost them their second Super Bowl win in as many years.

He comes with the added note of having worked under varying philosophies of Scott Pioli, John Dorsey, Chris Ballard, Brett Veach over the past few years as well as Reid.

Of course, there are some questions.

Ryan Pace also came amid much fanfare as the Director of Player Personnel from New Orlean. Complete with glowing recommendations from what has been one of the most stable organizations over the past 16 years. An organization that is now facing salary-cap issues and searching for a new head coach after Sean Payton stepped away. 

The Chiefs – where the Bears hired Matt Nagy away from – just pulled off the win in what many are calling the greatest playoff game in NFL history.

Again though, Pace came with a very promising background as well.

We still have to wait to see how the rest of this process plays out before evaluating. But the reviews from the national crowd have been positive. Many have noted Poles’ being a finalist for several jobs over the past couple of years.

Those Next Steps

Hopefully, the rumors Poles will be allowed to conduct his own coaching search are indeed true. We saw how that didn’t work with Pace and John Fox. That is where most minds went when the subsequent reports out of Halas Hall were that Jim Caldwell was also in the building on Tuesday too for a second interview as a finalist for the head coaching position.

Caldwell is viewed as having gotten a raw deal with the Detroit Lions but Fox arrived with much of the same favor in the court of public opinion amid reports of friction with John Elway. The Broncos had made the playoffs in three straight seasons.

This is no shade towards Caldwell. But the Bears owe it to Poles, the fanbase, and, quite frankly themselves to get out of the way. Let their new general manager do his job.

After all, in their most-recent power structure, that person is in charge of the entire football operation and will report directly to the chairman. A chairman who is admittedly not a football guy but rather “a fan”.

Fans spectate.

Dann Quinn is also said to be a finalist, along with Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, Matt Eberflus. Again, no disrespect is meant towards either coach. Both have been hot names this hiring cycle in the NFL. But if Poles has his own name or list of names, the Bears had better give them as thorough of a vetting process as they’ve given their own favorites.

Reports broke ahead of his hiring that the Bears search committee was “zeroing in” on Poles so we shouldn’t brush off Caldwell or Quinn. Both would represent upgrades, and have experience, albeit in an uninspiring fashion to many.

By Jove…

After all of the fuss and grumbling, the Bears went about things the right way. They put a general manager in place before going ahead with hiring a head coach. To take it a step further, rumors are that they are also allowing Poles to conduct his own search for the next person to lead the team on the field from the sidelines.

Are they actually doing this thing right? Who knows.

Poles – who is the first African American general manager in the storied franchise’s history – may seem to have a short track record to some. But his role in one of the most stable organizations adds a layer to his resume that shouldn’t be underappreciated. 

McCaskey meeting him at the airport in Bears regalia might seem hokey to some too.

But it is very much on-par with Lovie Smith showing up to meet Julius Peppers at midnight in 2010. Or Pace meeting Fox in 2015.

Oh, wait…

As we said when everyone was worried about them hiring a head coach first or after Ed Dodds pulled out, the Bears process hasn’t been as bad as many would have you believe. Even if it hasn’t been as smooth, which usually just means transparent, as most of us would have preferred.

It does seem that they are still heading in a positive direction. Until the next rumor starts and throws the base into an uproar, that is. When it does, just remember, it’s an art and not a science. And for all the talk of doing things differently, there are a lot of similarities between this go-round and the 2015 dog-and-pony show. 

Those next steps are even more important than this hiring. It is nice to have the Bears being mentioned in a positive light. Especially so soon after being the butt of every joke for much of the season.

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