Friday, June 2, 2023

Bill Polian Was Not Happy Ryan Poles Cut Him Out Of Coaching Decision


Bill Polian became part of the Chicago Bears inner circle as far back as November of last year. Team chairman George McCaskey asked him to evaluate the organization and offer an assessment on what must be done to fix it. After an extensive process, the Hall of Fame executive determined it was best to clean house. Ryan Pace must go. Matt Nagy must go. The team needed a reboot at the top. So that is what the Bears did.

After two weeks of exhaustive searching that involved over a dozen candidates, the search team reached their conclusion. Ryan Poles, the Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel was the man they were looking for. Everybody agreed. Including Polian. So it must’ve come as a considerable shock that upon learning he had the job, Poles had one clear demand. He wanted to interview every head coach finalist by himself.

Nobody else would be in that room.

McCaskey agreed, feeling it was best to give his new GM full latitude to run the football operations his way. A decision that according to Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score did not sit well with Polian.

“So then he gets here and two days ago he interviews (Jim) Caldwell. Yesterday he interviews Eberflus and Dan Quinn and he’s the only guy in those rooms. Doing one-on-one interviews. And Bill Polian was not thrilled that Ryan Poles said I would like to be in there one-on-one. So it wasn’t the group of five. It wasn’t the group of five in there interviewing these head coaches.

Now I don’t know. Maybe Poles went out of those rooms and talked to the group of five and they discussed everything. It might’ve been collaborative at that point. But what I was told very definitively by someone close to one of the other candidates is that it was Ryan Poles and Ryan Poles alone and Bill Polian was not thrilled.”

It isn’t clear what exactly his beef was.

Perhaps he felt entitled to have a say in the final decision, having been one of the people that got Poles hired in the first place. It isn’t a secret that the Hall of Famer was a major advocate of Caldwell. The 67-year old former Colts and Lions head coach. Somebody Polian had a longstanding relationship with. Perhaps not getting a chance to plead Caldwell’s case one more time stung. Yet it was pretty clear that Poles was not going to be pressured into a decision by anybody else. Not like what happed with Pace and John Fox back in 2015.

Bill Polian did his job and Poles did his

The reality is the 79-year old had a little too much bias when it came to the coaching search. Caldwell being a finalist was clearly a design of his despite a fair assessment that it wouldn’t have been a good choice from a long-term perspective. The Bears need somebody that has a chance to grow with quarterback Justin Fields. Establish a successful relationship that can span a decade if things fall into place. That was never going to happen with Caldwell. It felt too much like Polian was just trying to get his buddy one more bite at the apple.

Yet the Eberflus decision wasn’t just a shock to him. It was a shock to others in the building too. Reports are team president Ted Phillips and several other people inside Halas Hall were advocates of Dan Quinn. His natural leadership traits and strong track record of success were hard to ignore. Yet it’s possible Ryan Poles sensed the Cowboys defensive coordinator didn’t view the job as one he truly desired. Rumors are he had his heart set on the Denver Broncos but was passed over for Nathaniel Hackett.

This combined with Eberflus’ strong interviews helped make the decision clear.

Bill Polian was a valuable part of this entire process. His vast football knowledge and experience were crucial to helping the Bears make a change that was long overdue. It also seems to have put a man at the top that is undeniably a leader. The fact Poles was willing to make demands of ownership and take total control of the search process proves that much. It may not be how Polian would’ve done it, but that is how it went.

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