Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles spoke with the media on Wednesday at Halas Hall and addressed a variety of topics. I’ve highlighted a few, pulled some quotes, and added some of my own notes and thoughts for context, clarity, depth, and perspective. You can watch Poles’ entire press conference here or in the embedded video below.
Explaining the Montez Sweat trade
I won’t waste time with a flowery intro. This is what Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles had to say about why he swung a trade for Montez Sweat:
“It’s capitalizing right now because you start to lose opportunities. If you look at the free agents now, it’s going to look very different by the time you get to that point of the year because there are so many different opportunities that can pop up in terms of extensions, tags, different things like that. So we decided with that type of player, we wanted to capitalize on that now.”
In a vacuum, this makes sense. We discussed it when the Chase Young rumors began popping up and it is worth re-iterating. Because I do like the idea of making a swing-for-the-fences type of trade in a rebuilding year. Think of it this way: If the ideal player, who plays an impact position of need at a high level, makes it to the trade market, and fits your timeline for building and contention, then trading for that player is something a progressive team would do.
Those guys don’t always make it to free agency. In fact, it is rare when they do. Poles knows that from his time as a front office executive. You and I know that from our obsessive following of football. Sometimes, it is OK to leap-frog the market. And there are times when the juice is worth the squeeze (even if it costs a pretty penny). I might still have my doubts if the Bears were the right team and if Sweat was the right player. But Poles doesn’t share those same doubts. Fortune favors the bold. And this was certainly a bold move.
‘I don’t want to lose Jaylon Johnson’
When the Bears traded a second-round pick for Montez Sweat, I thought there was a real chance the team might jettison cornerback Jaylon Johnson to re-coup the lost draft capital. Instead, the Bears kept Johnson. But there was still no extension. After Johnson shared his side of the story, Ryan Poles opened a window to his line of thinking in the process — which helps explain why Johnson is still with the Bears:
“I don’t want to lose Jaylon Johnson. If I were to lose Johnson,” Poles explained. “I would like to have a high chance of hitting on another Jaylon Johnson, which to me is a late first, early second.”
Poles makes it clear that he values Johnson highly, noting that it would’ve taken a late first-round pick or early second-rounder to pry the cornerback away from Chicago. No one met those demands. Hence, Jaylon Johnson remains with the Chicago Bears. Kudos to the Bears GM for not taking less than he was looking for in a deal. Far too many trades are made by teams taking “the best offer” despite it being a subpar deal because it is the only offer on the table.
Even Poles’ explanation represents one way to show a player how much you like them, the best way is to fork over a huge chunk of change in an extension.
Matt Eberflus vote of confidnece
One of the most talked-about Ryan Poles quips from his press conference was his vote of confidence (h/t Mark Grote) in Head Coach Matt Eberflus. Let’s discuss Poles’ quote:
“What I see every day, where I see him address the team and I see his approach through adversity, it is stable. I know in the outside world it doesn’t look like that. And I know it looks like we’re far away, but this dude comes in every day and just keeps chipping away. He has high integrity.”
This is what I expect a general manager to say about an embattled coach. Simply put, there was no way that Poles — with nine games still left to play in this season — would publicly bus-toss his coach.
Burning a bridge at this point of the season in your second year as a GM would be awful optics and in poor taste. Do I wish that Poles could’ve found a way to express any disappointment he had with how things are going? Absolutely. Surely there is a way to say that out loud without alienating Eberflus or damaging the coach-GM relationship. But all things considered, I’d rather Poles handle it the way he did than start another firestorm by shredding his coach in the media.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become someone who needs a person’s actions to match their words. Saying it is nice. But showing it is far more important. Moving forward, I’d like for Coach Eberflus to show publicly some of the stuff Poles sees behind the scenes. Otherwise, that vote of confidence from the GM will feel like nothing more than empty words.
Ryan Poles on David Walker
The Bears’ removal of David Walker from his post as the team’s running backs coach was a shocker. But I suppose that it speaks to how serious the team is now taking it when people at Halas Hall aren’t living up to the franchise’s standards.
“We have expectations here,” Poles said. “This comes from me, Kevin (Warren), George (McCaskey), and Matt (Eberflus). If you don’t meet those expectations of how you move around this building and how you treat people, how you talk to people, how you act, you don’t belong here.”
In addressing Walker’s dismissal, I feel as if Poles’ words were said with the hope that they’d resonate throughout the building.
You can watch Ryan Poles’ entire press conference below or here: