Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy were the Chicago Bears “football guys,” as Chairman George McCaskey was oft to say. For his part, McCaskey today said he’s a “fan, not a football evaluator,” so clearly he needs good “football guys” around him.
But Pace and Nagy are no more in Chicago, with both receiving their walking papers. This leaves the Bears with no GM, coach, or “football guys” to consult.
McCaskey told reporters at today’s presser that Bill Polian will have significant involvement in the team’s search for a new general manager and head coach. Ted Phillips, Soup Campbell, and Tanesha Wade are also helping on the searches. The ultimate decision on both will be McCaskey’s, and he indicated that, going forward, the GM will report to him.
Polian counts as a football guy … right? The 79-year-old football lifer is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, six-time NFL executive of the year, and Super Bowl champion. The irony of Polian’s team winning a title at the Bears’ expense, only to see him lend a helping hand years later isn’t lost on me.
So it’s something. But the hope here is that Polian isn’t to the Bears’ 2022 search what Ernie Accorsi was to the franchise’s efforts in 2015.
Polian, 79, hasn’t served in an executive role for an NFL team since leaving his post as Colts president in 2011. And while Polian served as an administrator for the then-upstart Alliance of American football in 2019, Polian has been (most notably) a talking head on ESPN since 2012. In fact, Polian is most known in more modern football circles as publicly being unwilling to see Lamar Jackson as a pro quarterback and sharing his belief he should become a wide receiver. And although Polian did ultimately – and publicly, mind you – admit he was wrong in hindsight, I have questions about his judgment of modern skill position players (particularly Black quarterbacks). Then again, that might be a fair question to ask a 79-year-old who hasn’t had his hands in an organization in 10 years.
Nevertheless, George McCaskey is seeking guidance and aid from someone who knows far more football than he does. It’s a start, I suppose, but given Polian’s distance from being deeply involved in the game, and given the parallels to the 2015 process, it’s a bit of a deflated feeling from earlier today. Hopefully Polian’s knowledge of the league will nevertheless pay dividends in the process.