New Bears GM Ryan Poles has been making the media rounds lately, indicating his desire to reel in a big-time pass-catcher and sharing his displeasure with Fields’ teammates not protecting him from cheap shots.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Poles has touched on a ton of other important topics as well, and we’re going to dig into all of it right here.
Offensive Line is Due For a Makeover
Not only are changes coming to the Bears offensive line, they will be a priority.
And it’s not just about changes from a player perspective.
“We’re going to change it up a little bit, just in terms of the style,” Poles said while addressing questions about the line. “The message has been clear: We’ve got to change body types a little bit. We’ve got to get lighter, we’ve got to get quicker.”
Well, dang! In addition to Poles being all-in on bolstering the offensive line room, the new Bears GM made it clear that he wants to tighten some things up at Halas Hall. Poles mentioning getting lighter, leaner, and more mobile along the offensive line suggests he has a certain type of player(s) in mind when it comes to targeting linemen in the draft and free agency (Michael: and perhaps altering training regimens of existing players?). We’ll take a deeper dive into potential fits in due time.
In the end, this is equal parts refreshing and encouraging. The prior regime did not prioritize offensive line or depth the way I would’ve liked from a front office. To be clear, I’m #NotAScout. But I wasn’t alone in my displeasure with how the offensive line has been built in recent years. Bears fans near and far have echoed similar sentiments. So, with that being said, it feels good knowing that a shakeup is about to take place.
Darnell Mooney is “Hungry to be Special”
Among the many lessons I learned about team building in watching the 2016 Cubs is that every title-winner has a bit of the old regime’s flavor. With those Cubs, Javier Báez and Willson Contreras were the useful pieces brought in during the previous administration. So if Poles can build a winner in a few years, there’s a good chance we’ll look back at one or two players brought in from the Ryan Pace days as key contributors.
Perhaps one of them will be Darnell Mooney, the rising third-year receiver Poles deemed as a “bright spot” in the Bears’ offense.
“He’s got a quiet confidence about him,” Poles said of Mooney. “He’s hungry to be special. I’m always looking for guys that. They just raising their own bar in terms of where they want to go. He wants to be special. You can feel that in him. I think we’ve all been around people that want to be the absolute best they can be and it’s contagious and it gives you energy. It gives you hope.”
There aren’t too many players on the Bears that give you the feelings of hope, but Mooney is one of them. And that Poles identifies him as a player with special potential is encouraging as heck. Mooney had a breakout 2021 campaign, recording a career-best 81 catches and his first-ever 1,000-yard receiving season. No, Mooney isn’t quite in WR1 range just yet. But he built a rapport with Fields, made some splash plays, and is positioning himself to be a key cog in Luke Getsy’s offense starting in 2022.
Picks For Poles
The quote that grabbed my attention most was this one when Poles was discussing his approach to the draft: “Obviously, you want a lot of picks. But that’s just the hand we were dealt,” Poles said. “We’ll be open-minded on how we can create more picks, and we’ll be smart about that.”
Of course Poles wants more picks. Most general managers do. More picks means more swings in the cage. Sure, the new-look Bears front office wants to hit some dongs. But with just five picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, their chances are artificially limited.
Of course, Chicago could move back with any of their picks and add draft capital in the process. If Poles can do it, that would be a step away from what Pace had been doing in recent years.
• New regime, same old non-update updates regarding Tarik Cohen:
“It just comes down to communication and conversations with Andre Tucker. He’s one of the best in the game.” – #Bears GM Ryan Poles on Tarik Cohen. Wouldn’t get into medical details and said they are taking it one day at a time.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) March 1, 2022
We hope Cohen is doing well. Last year was a trying one for him when it comes to on-the-field things and stuff away from it. If/when Cohen returns, I hope he gets to be at full strength (both body and soul).
• Aww, shucks. Poles didn’t give any indication on what the team would do with rising second-year offensive tackle Teven Jenkins. However, I struggle to believe that Poles has no idea what he is willing to do with a player who was seen as a first-round caliber talent this time last year. But Poles’ cat-and-mouse game could find clarity after the dust settles in free agency and NFL Draft. Where Jenkins lands will ultimately depend on what the Bears do in those avenues of the player-acquisition part of the offseason.
• This is a valuable lesson to share this time of year:
Ryan Poles on prioritizing film over draft hype: “You can make some mistakes by what happens in shorts.”
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) March 1, 2022
• Poles didn’t make it seem like bringing back Allen Robinson II was in the cards, but he didn’t rule it out:
#Bears GM Ryan Poles on repairing the team's relationship with Allen Robinson:
“It’s communication, it’s establishing that things are going to be a little bit different."
Asked if it's safe to assume A-Rob wouldn't be tagged again, Poles wasn't ready to give a definitive answer
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) March 1, 2022
• There is a small (but important) distinction to make when it comes to being a people person and a people pleaser. Striking that balance will be key when it comes to chopping it up with player agents as a first-year general manager:
Ryan Poles on his comfort level dealing with agents and executives across the league: "I think it comes from being a people person." Says it's not that much of a challenge for him. https://t.co/JWtdxBAS8U
— Sean Hammond (@sean_hammond) March 1, 2022
• It is good to see the expansion of the front office is already paying off:
Poles says they were a few weeks behind on the off-season process but have caught up. They spent 8-9 days evaluating FAs & have got on the same page there.
Also notes Ian Cunningham has already been a big help in the process. #Bears
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) March 1, 2022
For Poles’ full press conference, watch the video below: