The Chicago Bears are about to hire their third general manager since 2012. Phil Emery flopped after three seasons. Ryan Pace lasted a lot longer but in the end, the results were pretty much the same. Both men managed just one winning record in their respective tenures. This is why so much pressure rests on the shoulders of George McCaskey. He was appointed team chairman back in 2011. Those two hires were entirely his responsibility.
Given the results, it isn’t hard to understand why Bears fans have little confidence he can get it right this time. Even McCaskey himself admitted his football knowledge is minimal. He is more a fan than a true executive. This is why he’s sought outside help for the previous two searches. Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi in 2015 and now Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian for this latest round.
Now three days out since Black Monday, the picture is coming into focus.
Chicago thus far has a list of 10 GM candidates mentioned by national insiders. Others have indicated there might be a couple more that haven’t been mentioned. Either way, it is apparent the organization is casting a wide net in its search for the right guy. It includes former GMs, cap specialists, and analytics specialists. All avenues are open. This is perhaps the most comprehensive search McCaskey has conducted yet, and it seems the NFL is taking notice as Hub Arkush of Shaw Media reported.
“On the general manager front names we believe the Bears have expressed interest in include Glen Cook, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Morocco Brown, Joe Schoen, Ran Carthon, Jeff Ireland, Ed Dodds, Eliot Wolf, Omar Khan and Rick Smith.
This is, of course, a much tougher group to gauge because unlike the coaching candidates, whose entire resume has been built in public, for the most part these guys do all their work in the background. Their work is mostly shrouded in great secrecy, and they all come from different levels of the evaluator, operations and administrative spectrum.
But again, multiple sources inside the league are telling me there isn’t a lemon in the group.”
Indeed when evaluating the track records of every man listed, they come across as extensive and strong. Smith built four division champions in Houston. Dodds had a big hand in the Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl triumph. Wolf is the son of Hall of Famer Ron Wolf and has worked for both the Packers and Patriots. Ireland has helped acquire 19 eventual Pro Bowlers from the college ranks since 2005. Adofo-Mensah is a Princeton grad that helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl in 2019.
Chicago Bears know they must find the right fit
Somebody that can of course find superstar players but also foster a winning culture. Something that has been missing from this organization since the peak years of Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith. This isn’t easy. It took Michael McCaskey two decades to eventually secure Angelo in 2001. Even George Halas himself struggled to find the right person until finally swiping Jim Finks from the Vikings in 1974.
George has a good advisor in Polian but the final decision still comes down to him. Often the toughest part of this is separating two key things. The guy that he might like the best vs. the guy that is the best man for the job. Sometimes those two things can be the same person, but not always. Look at the Pace hiring seven years ago. Most believed Chiefs personnel director Chris Ballard was the obvious choice, but McCaskey was turned off by his blunt personality. So they opted for Pace instead.
It can’t be about liking this next GM as a person.
The Chicago Bears need to hire the guy that gets them to the Super Bowl. It is a results-based business. As of right now, sources indicate that Smith, Dodds, and Ireland are early favorites to secure the position. All have extensive qualifications. Of course, it only takes one banger interview from somebody else to change the script. This process should be fascinating.