Nothing is ever a guarantee when it comes to hiring people when the Chicago Bears are involved. They’ve proven time and again that the most obvious choices for a head coach or GM aren’t the ones they end up going with. Marc Trestman over Bruce Arians in 2013. Ryan Pace over Chris Ballard in 2015. Matt Nagy over Josh McDaniels in 2018. All of those choices were genuine surprises to many. Not good ones either as it turns out. Rick Smith would be the total opposite.
Fans fear George McCaskey will do more of the same. Opt for the unexpected rather than doing what is most logical for his franchise. Thus far the Bears have set up interviews with 11 GM candidates. They’ve met with three of them already and more are coming in the next few days. It isn’t breaking news that the organization would prefer the process move as quickly as possible. They want to get the GM in place so they can work to find the head coach.
This is why it is fair to wonder if the Bears already have somebody in mind.
Somebody they came into the process likely planning to go with but not wanting to do so until they did a proper exploration of the market. See if somebody can wow you before making a decision. Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog was the one who broke the Pace news before everybody. He’s been on top of the team’s GM search from the jump and had a surprising comment about their thought process.
I think there are clear favorites for GM job (Dodds, Smith) but I love the Bears meeting with a wide of variety of personnel talent. They’re allowing themselves to be wowed by someone.
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) January 11, 2022
He is referring to Indianapolis Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds and Smith, the former Houston Texans GM. Both are among the most respected talent evaluators in the league and will be running their own teams if not this offseason then in the next year or two. That by itself was interesting. Yet there is another layer of intrigue now. This one is courtesy of ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler who dropped this little nugget in a recent column.
“Second-chance general managers could be involved in this cycle. Teams have had conversations about former Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. Former Texans GM Rick Smith will garner interest from the Bears. Dave Caldwell (Jacksonville), Bob Quinn (Detroit) and John Dorsey (Cleveland) are among former general managers serving as senior consultants for teams. They have ample experience.”
Coincidences involving the Chicago Bears are quite rare
Indications for months were that if changes happened at GM, McCaskey might opt to pursue somebody with prior experience on the job. Hughes offered further evidence of this when he revealed the organization reached out to names like Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Colbert, and John Schneider about the possibility of leaving their current posts for the top job in Chicago. While that appears unlikely, it sends a clear message. The Bears want somebody with a track record of success.
Smith fits the criteria. He inherited an organization that was still in its infancy back in 2006. Just four years into their existence. After a 6-10 first year, Smith’s Houston Texans ended up finishing 8-8 or better in eight of their next 11 seasons. That included four division championships. All of this was during a time when Indianapolis had Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck at quarterback. Smith also laid the foundation for Houston’s back-to-back division titles in 2018 and 2019.
His track record of success at finding talent speaks for itself.
- Duane Brown
- Connor Barwin
- Glover Quin
- Kareem Jackson
- J.J. Watt
- Whitney Mercilus
- Brandon Brooks
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Jadeveon Clowney
- Benardrick McKinney
- Deshaun Watson
- Johnathan Joseph
- Wade Smith
- Antonio Gibson
- Vonta Leach
- Arian Foster
- A.J. Bouye
- Lamar Miller
The one thing Rick Smith never had during his entire tenure was a quarterback. Then when he finally gets one in Watson in 2017, his wife’s battle with cancer went south. This forced him to step away from Houston, leaving many to wonder how different things might’ve been had he stayed. If he is the favorite for Chicago, it isn’t hard to see why.