Say What You Want About George McCaskey But He Does One Thing Exactly Right. And Other Points of View.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune talks about the process of evaluating players when new Bears general manager Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs.
  • The Chiefs would reach the end of a season and begin evaluating the roster in preparation for free agency. Then they would open a big room to the entire scouting staff. Here’s how it would start: This is our roster. Our needs are this, this and this. Let’s go to work.

    “We would literally sit there and crank tape, 14 days,” Poles said. “You could speak your mind. (Director of player personnel Chris) Ballard (now the Indianapolis Colts GM) coined it ‘a room of candor.’ Say what you want to say. Have pushback. If you don’t see it, say it. And we’re going to find truth. The big thing is having respect for each other where it doesn’t get out of hand. But I found that you can get the truth pretty quick.

    “I’ve been in situations where you just read your report and it’s more creative writing (that) can get a player to move up. This you can’t hide. The player is the player. If you say he can catch really well and we’re watching three games and he’s dropping like every ball, you might have missed something.”

    Former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo used to say that there are two kinds of people in NFL personnel departments. Those who sit down with others to watch tape to resolve differences in opinion and those who don’t.

    I’m glad the Bears hired one of the former.

  • As I continued to read the Biggs article, there were other aspects of the Poles hire, as well as that of new Bears head coach Matt Eberflus that brought me a level of comfort. None more so than the fact that Poles was with Kansas City under 3 general managers (Scott Pioli, John Dorsey and Brett Veech) and through two regime changes. Poles might be new to the job but he’s seen how change is instituted within NFL organizations. Similarly, Colleen Kane, also at the Chicago Tribune, pointed out that this is the third time that Eberflus has implemented a transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense. Both men have seen the good and the bad. Neither will be a stranger to the process that he’s facing.
  • Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic addresses what Eberflus demands of his players:

    Colts players talked about the emphasis on hustle and avoiding being marked down for a “loaf.”

    “The biggest thing is effort,” Colts cornerback T.J. Carrie told The Athletic’s Zak Keefer. “Some people might not realize how important it is in the game. For example, most of the time when there is a run away (from you), the backside corner just kind of jogs, (saying), ‘Well, I can’t make a difference. I can’t make the play.’

    “But in this defensive scheme, you need to run. He forced you to run, and there are things done if you don’t run.”

    By all accounts, as well as what I saw with my own eyes, effort wasn’t a problem with the Bears under Matt Nagy. The problem was simply that the Bears didn’t execute, especially on offense. What the plan will be to fix that problem will be the key to Eberflus’s success.

    Eberflus supposedly lives by the acronym HITS: hustle, intensity, taking care of the ball and taking the ball away and staying smart situationally. I’d feel better is I saw something in there about “concentration” and “discipline”. Because if that isn’t an emphasis here we aren’t going to see the improvement in the Bears play that we need to see for them to become a sustained winner.

  • On a similar note, Fishbain
    talks to Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee about the new Bears head coach. Eberflus had he called a “breakfast club” on Wednesday mornings when he was the Cowboys linebackers coach.
  • When Lee entered the room, Eberflus had the entire game plan laid out on the board.

    “What this team does really well in the run game, what they do really well in the pass game, what’s going to be different in the scheme this week, the little changes we made,” he said. “And then we talked about practice. Which fundamentals are we going to work on today at practice and how are they going to play out in the game? He was hitting it on all levels with such detail.

    “That resonated with me. It made me a better football player.”

    This all sounds wonderful and explains why Eberflus was such a good defensive coordinator. But being a head coach is a different beast. Eberflus’s success will not be determined so much by how he does such things now as by his ability to find assistant coaches that do such things well. It’s a completely different challenge and one that we can only wait and see if he can overcome.

  • Similarly, Kane continued to quote Eberflus as he addressed how he plans to handle his assistants.
  • Eberflus has had a host of coaching mentors over the years — he thanked Gary Pinkel, Rod Marinelli, Nick Saban and his high school coach, Pat Gucciardo, in his opening monologue — to help him understand the best way to manage his staff.

    “You give them space,” he said. “You give them working room. You’re not hovering over top of them. You hire good people and then you let them do their job.”

    To an extent.

    Speaking as someone who has a similar managerial style I can tell you that the results are not always what you’d want. If you actually do a perfect job of hiring people who are as driven as you are, it can work. But most of the time, this simply isn’t the case.

    The truth of the matter is that Eberflus’s assistants are going to have to be pushed as much or more than his players are. Similar to the players, he’s going to need to find a way to get them to accomplish things that they never knew that they could do.

    Taking a completely hands off approach is almost never the way to do that.

  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears Chairman George McCaskey as he answers the key question regarding the Bears coaching search.
  • So why would anyone in the outside world latch on to McCaskey’s confidence this time around as he begins working with his fourth GM and fifth head coach?

    “Every experience has its benefits,” McCaskey said. “Hopefully you’re learning from the experiences, both the positive and negative.”


    When looking at this search from the outside in it certainly doesn’t look like much changed. Get a veteran NFL man to advise – check. Form a committee including team President and CEO Ted Phillips – check. Start interviewing general managers and head coaches at the same time – check.

    What McCaskey is counting on is doing the same thing but doing it better this time around. Only time will tell whether their approach is the right one. But Bears fans have already seen it fail once.

  • Speaking of the hiring process let me once again express my disappointment that former Bears and current Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub was once again passed over for an interview not just with the Bears but with any team.

    Pundits like to talk about how coaching special teams prepares you in a unique way to become a head coach. The position forces you to know every player on the roster and to constantly adapt to changing personnel as players come and go from the offensive and defensive side of the ball. But when it comes to action its all just hot air as NFL executives opt for the more flashy offensive and defensive coordinators and leave good coaches like Toub behind.

  • Finally, if there’s a bottom line conclusion from the Bears recent hires, its this.Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times expresses my fears about the new Bears regime:

    It’s fair to have the same concerns about [new offensive coordinator Luke] Getsy as one does with Eberflus and new general manager Ryan Poles. Getsy has never called plays in the NFL. Eberflus has no head-coaching experience at any level, and Poles had never been a general manager.

    The Bears have a habit of doing this, particularly at general manager. From Jerry Angelo to Phil Emery to Ryan Pace they have hired nothing but first time general managers for over 20 years. It’s a strange run for a team that expects its general manger to run all aspects of the football operation.

    Is Ryan Poles up to it? He won’t be helped much as every person from him on down will be new to their jobs. There are going to be a lot of people who are going to have to do a lot of things right the first time.

    I’ll be honest. It’s hard to generate much optimism where that is the case.

One Final Thought

Kane makes another interesting point in her article as she writes about Eberflus’s method of hiring assistant coaches.

[Eberflus] figures that recruiting experience from college will help him in the days ahead as he fills out his coaching staff after making his first hire — offensive coordinator Luke Getsy — over the weekend.

“Oh, it’s an easy sell,” he said. “Chicago Bears? Easy. And then you sell working relationships, how you give guys their room and you support them as the head football coach.”

The Bears are an easy sell. And here we come to something that McCaskey has evidently done exactly right.

Apparently once former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn found out that the Bears job wasn’t his, he immediately said that he was returning to the Cowboys as defensive coordinator. Although he was a less popular interview, you got the distinct impression that Jim Caldwell felt the same way.

NFL coaches, especially veteran coaches, are being more picky nowadays about the jobs that they jump at. Go to the Jaguars with Shad Khan? No thank you. Want to go to the Dolphins and deal with a politics-driven front office with owner Stephen Ross? No way.

The Bears like to sell their franchise with things like tradition. But NFL coaches and general managers don’t care about that. What makes the Bears job so attractive is that McCaskey hires you and gets out of the way. There is as close to zero interference from ownership with the Bears as it gets in the NFL.

People around the NFL want one thing more than anything else. Succeed or fail, they want the result to be based on their own merits. You are guaranteed to get that with the Bears.

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