Hours after informing Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy they had been fired, Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey promised the search to replace them “will result in the best possible selections to lead the Bears to success.”
McCaskey and President and CEO Ted Phillips spoke with the media for an hour Monday afternoon detailing how they would find the next Bears next general manager and coach.
Here are five questions they answered during that session.
1. Who will be involved in the Bears search?
While McCaskey said he ultimately will make the decision on the next GM and coach, the Bears assembled a five-person search committee — McCaskey, Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, Phillips, vice president of player engagement LaMar “Soup” Campbell and senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion Tanesha Wade.
- Polian, 79, spent 32 years in the NFL and was an executive with the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. His teams made the Super Bowl five times, with one win with the Colts against the Bears in the 2006 season. Among his coaching hires were Hall of Famers Tony Dungy and Marv Levy and also Dom Capers and Jim Caldwell.
McCaskey began consulting with Polian during the season as he tried to determine the fates of Pace and Nagy.
“I was struck in our earliest conversations with Bill how very much on top of the game he is and even on our situation,” McCaskey said. “When we called him out of the blue, he was asking us detailed questions about our roster, about our injury situation with particular players. He was very much up on the game in general and the Bears’ situation in particular. So I think we’ll be in good hands leaning on Bill to help us make this decision.”
- Phillips has been the Bears President and CEO since 1999 and has seen the team hire three general managers and five head coaches. During his tenure, the Bears have made the playoffs six times and lost 10 or more games nine times.
“I trust Ted implicitly,” McCaskey said. “Because I have great respect for his judgement, his analytical skills, his instincts when it comes to the people that we’re interviewing, and in the end he’ll be negotiating the contract of the general manager and the head coach.”
- Campbell is a former NFL defensive back with the Detroit Lions. The Bears hired him in 2017 to work with players, and is on board to help the Bears determine how candidates will lead players.
“He on a daily basis is in the locker room talking to the players, what’s important, what’s on their minds, what’s bothering them, what are they happy about,” Phillips said. “He will add great insight into how the locker room might react to different styles of coaching, different styles of leadership.”
- Wade started her career with the Bears as director of events and entertainment and was promoted to her new position in the fall. Her participation is inherent to the Bears’ efforts to consider a diverse candidate pool.
“Tanesha, she’s very bright and she will help us consider diversity of thought and the implicit bias that a lot of people have when they go through trying to hire leadership, whether it’s a coach or a general manager,” Phillips said.
2. How will the search proceed?
McCaskey said the Bears will have “lengthy lists” of candidates for both positions.
The Bears already began setting up interviews Monday. According to multiple reports, they put in requests with Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown, Cleveland Browns VP of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Browns VP of player personnel Glenn Cook for GM interviews and former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson, Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll for coach interviews.
Pederson, Frazier and Daboll are notable because it shows the Bears are conducting coaching interviews before they decide on a GM. McCaskey said the Bears would prefer to hire a GM first.
“But if we see a head-coach candidate we think is the right one, we’re going to do what it takes to get him in house,” McCaskey said.
McCaskey hopes the diversity of experience within the interview room will lead to the productive conversations needed to pick the right people.
“We expect a candid and free-flowing conversation,” McCaskey said. “Bill said that when he interviewed Tony Dungy, he knew in the first 12 minutes that Tony was his guy and they proceeded to talk football for another eight hours. So we’re looking forward to in-depth conversations like that.”
3. What qualities are they looking for in a GM and coach?
McCaskey stressed multiple times that the Bears are staying open-minded about what they want in a GM and coach.
He said coach interviews will “not be limited by philosophy, scheme, whether a candidate’s background is on the offensive side of the ball, defensive or special teams, whether a candidate has previous head-coaching experience, whether a candidate’s background is in the college game or the pro game, or financial considerations.”
When asked if someone with a Bears connection would make him more comfortable, he said it would depend “on who that person was and what their vision was for the Bears.” And he also said the Bears are open to different philosophies on how to obtain success on the field, whether it be via a rebuild or with much of their current group.
McCaskey mentioned Polian’s book, “Super Bowl Blueprints,” a couple of times in his answers about the search, including when saying the Bears were seeking leaders at the GM and coach positions.
“(Polian) said he was struck by (how) great teams have coaches that the players respect,” McCaskey said of the book. “They don’t have to like him, they don’t have to love him, but they respect him. So the primary quality we’ll be looking for in both the general manager and the head coach is leadership.”
He said the Bears are committed to “fairness in the process” as they consider diversity in their hiring.
“What I keep hearing as a member of the (NFL) diversity committee is that people just want a fair process,” McCaskey said. “It’s not a particular result, as long as people get a fair shake. The same quality interview that another candidate may have gotten, the same opportunity to be heard that every other candidate gets. That’s the important part of the process. We don’t know what the result is going to be.”
4. How is this search different from the Bears’ last GM search?
After the 2014 season, the Bears hired former NFL GM Ernie Accorsi to help them in the search that ultimately led to the hiring of Pace and coach John Fox.
The inclusion of Polian, then, feels familiar.
“The change in the interview room is that we’ve got three new people in the room, so we’ve got the benefit of their perspective,” McCaskey said.
The bigger announced change is that the new GM will report to McCaskey and not Phillips, who is focusing his attention on the Bears’ potential purchase of the former Arlington International Racecourse property as a possible site for a new stadium.
However, Phillips still will be involved in the search. He said he thinks he has learned a lot through his involvement with other searches.
“The hiring of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, I don’t regret that,” Phillips said. “They both brought a lot to the Bears. Ultimately on the field the results weren’t where we wanted to be, but they checked a lot of the boxes. You can’t ask for better leaders, you can’t ask for better forward thinkers, you can’t ask for people that gave their all, had great work ethics, were humble, and I’m going to look for a lot of those same qualities.
“And hopefully with Bill’s vast expertise, the technicalities of coaching strategy and valuation processes, that that’s going to add a nice added benefit to our search and help us find the right people.”
5. How does quarterback Justin Fields factor in?
Fields, whom Pace drafted at No. 11 in the spring, didn’t have a great rookie season under Nagy, going 2-8 as a starter while throwing for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
While noting he’s “not a football evaluator,” McCaskey said he sees “a dynamic player with a lot of potential, a lot of ability, a lot of heart, and a strong work ethic.”
“We are looking for a general manager and a head coach who can develop not just the quarterback position but the talent around him, establishing a strong defense to help the quarterback, to bring the Bears to success,” McCaskey said.
However, McCaskey said Fields will not be involved in the search process. He also was careful not to insist that the new GM or coach be enamored with Fields, refusing to entertain hypotheticals about candidates who might want to go in another direction at quarterback.
“We don’t know what the candidates have had to say because we haven’t interviewed any of them yet,” he said. “We want to know what their plan is for that position with the Bears.”
Source: Berkshire mont