UPDATE: Ryan Poles it is. He’ll be the new Bears General Manager. The rest of the original post remains below.
A complete house cleaning is underway at Halas Hall. Three football seasons have passed since Matt Nagy, and Ryan Pace won top honors for their efforts in leading the 2018 Chicago Bears to a 12-4 record and NFC North title, and the time has come for the franchise to find their replacements.
Despite this team’s issues, the head coach and general manager vacancies are highly sought-after. And with Super Bowl-winning Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian lending a helping hand, the Bears are in a position to make some impact hirings. Over the following days, weeks, or however long it takes, we’ll be diving into the top available candidates, including their history, what they offer schematically, how they fit culturally, where they can take this team, and more. Let’s do it.
Name, Current Team, and Position
Ryan Poles, Kansas City Chiefs Executive Director of Player Personnel (2021-present)
• Kansas City Chiefs Assistant Director of Player Personnel (2018-20), Director of College Scouting (2017), College Scouting Director (2013-16), College Scouting Administrator (2010-12), Player Personnel Assistant (2009)
Poles has an extensive background in scouting with the Chiefs. And while he has worked in just one organization, Poles has survived three different general managers. Poles spent time under Scott Pioli (2009-12), John Dorsey (2013-16), and Brett Veach (2017-present). He must be doing something right to make it through three different regimes and to keep climbing the front office ladder. Right?
There is no doubting the waves of talent Kansas City has put on the field over the years. And the recent run of excellence stands out. The Chiefs have at least 10 wins in each of the last six seasons, and have won two AFC titles and a Super Bowl in that span. Kansas City seeing success while Poles simultaneously made his way up through the organization is pretty neat.
Existing Rumors and Bears Ties
When his college career at Boston College came to an end in 2007, Poles actually spent some time with the Bears after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He didn’t make the team, but that technically counts as having a tie-in to Chicago’s football team.
More recently, the Bears reportedly sent a request to interview Poles on Jan. 17. Four days later, the first interview was complete. And on Tuesday, he’ll be in for a second interview.
I don’t want to overstate how Poles was K.C.’s Director of College Scouting when the team chose quarterback Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. And I don’t have much of an interest in re-hashing it any more than you do. But I’d like to underscore how well the Chiefs have been drafting over the years. And how much. It is possible that Poles could bring a philosophy change that values volume in picks and marries that with a good scouting eye. If the Bears’ next GM can team those two concepts together, it could make for the start of a wonderful relationship. I’m not sure he is the best fit for the Bears moving forward, but I wouldn’t mind hearing him state his case to the contrary.
In The End …
As Bears fans, I think we can all agree on this team needing upgrades at various positions. But because they can’t happen all at once, it would be nice to see the front office address the issues with a sharper scouting eye. And because Poles’ scouting eye has involvement at so many different levels that went toward building the Chiefs, his candidacy comes with a bit of intrigue. Don’t get me wrong. There would be considerable risk hiring Poles. And while we shouldn’t ignore it, we shouldn’t make it an eliminating factor at the outset.
Poles, 36, is on the younger side of the executive scale. With that in mind, I’m unsure if the Bears would consider following the Pace era — which began with him being the NFL’s youngest GM — with an even younger replacement. Moreover, that Poles’ experience comes solely from his time in Kansas City will (for better or worse) give fans flashbacks to the Nagy hire. Or even the Pace hire, considering how all of his prior front office experience came in New Orleans. But to reiterate what was written earlier, Poles has experience under three different front office leaders. In other words, this isn’t a one-for-one straight-up comparison for Pace or Nagy. Full stop.
In other words, Poles’ résumé stands on its own merits and deserves to be graded independently of what happened with Pace/Nagy. Although, I know it will be a challenge to sell fans on that when we all know Bears fans hold grudges like no other.