Bears, Ryan Poles Agree to Contract as New General Manager

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 25, 2022

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 14: A detail view of a Chicago Bears helmet is seen on a bench during a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins on August 14, 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have hired Ryan Poles as their next general manager, the team announced Tuesday. 

Poles was the Kansas City Chiefs' executive director of player personnel.

After finishing 6-11 and missing the playoffs, the Bears decided to start anew by firing head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported veteran NFL head coach Jim Caldwell is in the Bears' building on Tuesday, adding that some around the league believe Caldwell's experience could pair well with the "upstart" Poles.

For many fans, the moves were long overdue. Nagy wasn't getting the most out of the players, and Pace failed to live down how he bet the house on Mitchell Trubisky in 2017.

However, it didn't take long for the questions to begin about whether a new head coach and general manager can make much of a difference with the same people still in charge higher up in the organization.

On Jan. 10, after Nagy and Pace's ousters, team chairman George McCaskey held a media call that was nothing short of a disaster. 

The Athletic's Jon Greenberg wrote how McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips "managed to make things worse and send the fanbase into a new tizzy of despair."

Jason Goff @Jason1Goff

1. Use a grieving family and kid to chastise Bears fans for being idiots. <br><br>2. Insult a reporter/columnist before question is asked <br><br>3. Drive Bill Polian’s book sales<br><br>4. Call one of the most respected players in your team’s history a liar. <br><br>5. Fail to instill confidence

Prior to the firings of Nagy and Pace, the Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer also provided this unflattering portrait of the organization's internal state:

Dan Wiederer @danwiederer

The same source emphasized that, to him, the lack of availability and lack of openness to questions by George and Ryan -- and to some extent Ted -- is somewhat rooted in paranoia but also a symptom of a subconscious lack of confidence in the actual direction and plan.

Dan Wiederer @danwiederer

Mitch's slide torpedoed a potential Super Bowl season. Mahomes was backing up his 2018 MVP with a Super Bowl run the next season.<br>Ted: "We try not to get into that comparison game. We believe in Mitch. Patrick Mahomes is an anomaly. ... Nobody expected that kind of performance."

History has shown that functional ownership or a competent power structure at the top is typically required for on-field success. In the case of a team that has stayed within one family for generations such as the Bears, there's also the issue of personal loyalty sometimes standing in the way of getting the right people in the right positions.

Right now, it's not clear whether the tandem of McCaskey and Phillips are collectively helping or holding things back. That would be an obvious hurdle standing in Poles' way of assembling a championship-caliber roster in the Windy City.

This offseason, his list of priorities will probably start at improving Justin Fields' supporting cast.

The 22-year-old struggled at times as a rookie, throwing for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 58.9 percent of his passes. But he needs more time before Chicago makes any serious judgments about his long-term status.

Darnell Mooney is the only wide receiver under contract for 2022, giving the front office a great opportunity to remake the passing game. The offensive line also needs to be upgraded after allowing an NFL-high 58 sacks.

However, addressing the wideout position and offensive line will only partially solve the team's myriad issues. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote in January that "evaluators say the Bears' roster might be among the league's worst, so clearly the problems run deeper than Matt Nagy's coaching."

Fowler added that trading six-time Pro Bowler Khalil Mack, who was limited to seven games before undergoing foot surgery, could be one route to filling multiple voids on defense.

Poles would inherit less-than-ideal circumstances in the short term, but that does provide him with a golden opportunity to leave his imprint on the franchise.