Would You Go Head Coach or GM First? And Other Bears Bullets

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Would You Go Head Coach or GM First? And Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

Happy Tuesday! Throw on your headphones, and give this a listen:

Kick back, relax, and grab a drink. I hope this podcast is as fun for you as it was for me.

•   After realizing the Bears had put in interview requests for 15 GM candidates, this song came to my head and has been stuck ever since. And it led me to run a poll for about 15 (there goes that number again) hours asking fans which hire they care more about. And the results were legitimately surprising:

•   It doesn’t get much closer than a poll of 2,137 people coming down to a 50.6%-49.4% split. I can’t say I saw it coming. Although, perhaps I should have. This is football’s version of the chicken-and-the-egg debate. Is it more important that the Bears have a boots-on-the-turf coach on the field? Or is it more important to have a general manager putting the right pieces in place? Does the GM make the coach? Or is it the coach making the GM? And every time I think I have the right answer, the other side of the discussion makes valid points.

•   On the one hand, it should definitely be the general manager. Management hires the GM, who hires the coach.  From there, the coach answers to the GM. And the GM answers to management. It is a traditional power structure that makes the most sense. When it comes specifically to the Bears, the general manager is the top football voice. And because Chairman George McCaskey is “just a fan” who happens to be the organization’s highest-ranking front-facing member, it feels more important to get the general manager call right because there is no one else in a position of higher power to lean on. Nail that hire, or risk repeating the last seven years of the Ryan Pace era.

•   But on the other hand, a good coach can overcome organizational incompetence above them on the pecking order. From a football perspective, we’ve seen good coaches settle the ship through rough waters. Take for example Ron Rivera, who has been a calming influence in what has otherwise been a dysfunctional Washington football franchise. Check out the 49ers between the Jim Harbaugh and Kyle Shanahan eras. The post-Harbaugh Niners were an immediate mess. So much so, it ultimately cost Trent Baalke his gig because of the post-Harbaugh flop. Then again, is the bounce-back more of a sign of Shanahan’s success or is it a John Lynch thing? Just when you thought a lane was clear, you find yourself driving in mud. Go figure.

•   In the end, I’m not sure there is a right answer. The GM has their hand in so much, but it can’t work if the coach doesn’t put those pieces in the right place to succeed. But the coach can’t win if the GM isn’t doing right in the team-building process.

•   One thing the Bears should be looking to avoid is an imbalance in power structure. For instance, Chicago sports fans have seen how it plays out when a good coach (Tom Thibodeau) doesn’t get the support from management (John Paxson/Gar Forman). GarPax might’ve won the battle when it was able to jettison Thibodeau for Fred Hoiberg, but lost the war when everything fell apart in the years that followed. In a similar vein, avoid a Blackhawks-like model where the front office end gets too big and too full of itself. The Stan Bowman era collapsed on itself and the organization is starting to deal with the wide-ranging ramifications. When it is all said and done, eliminate any situation in which the drama between two sides with differing self-interests can drag things down.

•   In a best-case scenario, the front office and coach would feed off each other. In a text message thread with Eli (BN Bulls) and Mario (BN Blackhawks), we discussed power structures that were working and ones that weren’t. It was the type of collaborative discussion that would make George McCaskey and Ted Phillips envious. Eli offered up the Bulls are a model organization worth following, especially with their infrastructure being is the strongest it’s been IN YEARS. Team President Artūras Karnišovas, GM Marc Eversley, and Head Coach Billy Donovan pull from the same end of the rope despite having different responsibilities in the power structure. It’s a three-man weave, but with scouting, evaluation, and coaching.

•   And on the other end of the spectrum, the most recent Blackhawks model is one that can’t be copied. In addition to the other issues we would come to learn about this year, we can’t forget how a Bowman-Joel Quenneville power struggle ultimately led to Coach Q’s ouster. When one side gets to a point of power where it feels it can do no wrong, it often sets up for a precipitous fall. And from the hockey side of things, we’re seeing the result being the need for all sorts of new leadership and an overdue rebuild.

•   Maybe Justin Fields is onto something here in noting that the best is still yet to come:

•   Ahhhh, yeah! That’s the kind of optimism I was needing this morning.

•   Because of how the sentence is put together, this tweet felt like something that was out-of-touch from an out-of-towner:

•   But also … this is a conversation we need to have about Leslie Frazier:

•   To be clear, none of this is a diss on Frazier. However, as someone who is in constant communication with Bears fans daily, there is absolutely no anticipation from this fan base in terms of a Leslie Frazier interview. In fact, no candidate has gotten more public push back than Frazier. If anything, that is a reminder of how being a Super Bowl XX champion doesn’t rally the fanbase like it once did. And if the Bears brass’ excitement is driven by a connection to a Super Bowl champion from 36 years ago, when it should be driven by what that candidate can do moving forward (despite their prior ties), then they’re doing it wrong.

•   I love a good reunion episode:

•   What would be worse: The nightmares the night before facing Aaron Donald or the ones coming the night after playing him?

•   All righty, so OBJ isn’t cooked:

•   Considering Odell Beckham Jr.’s strengths and Justin Fields’ natural talent, that fit seems natural. And now that we know that the drama in Cleveland was just Browns-y occurrence, maybe it’s something we can consider down the line as we try to build out a roster. But we’re so far from having that conversation.

•   After the Rams’ thrashing of the Cardinals, we’re getting four Conference Championship Sunday type of matchups in the divisional round:

•   Mess with this city’s architecture at your own risk:


•   Marc-André Fleury has been pucks’ awesome lately:

•   This was juicy:


•   Travis Wood is a 2016 icon for so many weird reasons:

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.