George McCaskey didn’t exactly get his latest attempt to overhaul the Chicago Bears power structure off on the right foot. His end-of-season press conference was ugly in all respects, sending multiple wrong messages while failing to offer any cohesive plan. His only assurance that things would go well this time is he’d brought aboard Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian to help lead the search process. People weren’t convinced.
McCaskey was the owner. He is supposedly the chairman of the board for a reason. People felt he should be the one out in front of this. Well, it seems he actually was. At least in terms of establishing parameters for the coach and GM search. Polian explained to Adam Jahns of The Athletic that it came down to two guiding principles. A desire to explore all candidates regardless of race and get the best possible leader. Expertise on either side of the ball did not matter.
No. 1: “We were going to institute the deepest and widest search in order to not only fulfill the new mandates of the Rooney Rule, but we’d go beyond them.”
No. 2: “We wanted to get the best man. Don’t get caught up in whether it’s an offensive guy or a defensive guy or whatever theories are out there. Let’s get the best head coach we can, and let’s get the best general manager we can.”
His wish was indeed granted.
The Bears interviewed 23 people between the two jobs, 13 for GM and 10 for head coach. Of the general manager candidates, more than half were minorities. That included their eventual selection, Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Ryan Poles. As for the coaches, five of them came from defensive backgrounds and five from offensive backgrounds. A dead even split.
In the end, Poles was given full latitude to pick his guy, and he opted for Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Time will tell if that was the right decision, but at least one thing is clear. George McCaskey handled this search process far better than he did seven years ago in 2015. It felt like he was a passenger back then as Ernie Accorsi and Ted Phillips reached out to some buddies for recommendations.
This time, he made his voice heard. The Bears were methodical and thorough. They were also fair. People can’t ask much more from a process than that.