Monday at 1:06 p.m. officially a little over four hours after the Chicago Bears Announced the sacking of coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Paes, President George McCaskey made another big announcement.
Team president and CEO Ted Phillips – with the focus needing to focus on the organization’s upcoming stadium venture – was asked to step away from his responsibilities as chief supervisor of the Bears GM position. But instead of finding someone with an extensive football background to assist and evaluate the next general manager, find a new job opening or seek outside help to take on that slack, McCaskey will take on those duties himself.
Eighteen minutes later, however, McCaskey offered a candid admission, answering a question regarding his evaluation of Justin Fields.
“Well, I’m just a fan,” he said. “I am not a football evaluator. As a fan, what I look for is a dynamic player with a lot of potential, a lot of potential, a lot of heart and a strong work ethic. We are looking for a general manager and a head coach. Who can develop not only the quarterback position but the talent around him, helping the quarterback and setting up a strong defense to lead the Bears to success.
full stop. back up. Read it again.
I’m just a fan. I am not a football evaluator.
Ok. Definitely appreciate the clarity. But then how does this acknowledgment coincide with taking on duties as the chief decider in hiring the next GM? And how does that disclosure reconcile with what that GM is evaluating on a regular basis?
“Again, this is a results-oriented business,” McCaskey said. “So it will be largely (based on wins and losses), making the playoffs, success in the playoffs, advancing to the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl. That’s how success is measured in this business.”
Fair enough. And of course accurate from a surface-level vantage point.
But by those measures, the Bears’ record under McCaskey’s watch isn’t impressive. Average record of 7-9 over the last 11 seasons. Two playoff berths. Zero wins the playoffs. Zero Super Bowl.
Phillips’ track record at 23 seasons in his current role is barely better. Average record of 8-8. Six playoff trips. Three playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl.
Both resumes are in the “Not Good Enough” file cabinet in the Hallas Hall.
Which is why Monday bears what appears to be another confusing chapter in the dismal existence, leaving a rapidly growing fan base with a familiar beatdown feeling.
Bears don’t understand this. They still don’t understand it.
With an opportunity to rejuvenate the masses by expressing a clear and energetic vision, with a chance to set a new direction after the dismissals of Negi and Paes, McCaskey instead told the outside world that he was just a fan. Which is one of the most tradition-rich franchises in the game.
So why exactly does Bear have such an unwavering belief in the structure of his hierarchy? Or asked another way, why is there such resistance from above, even considering a different model just to test whether adding some extra football skills to the mix might improve results. ?
“In our structure, it is the GM who has the ultimate football rights and oversees the entire football operation,” McCaskey was the first to say. “Different structures work for different teams in different sports. We think this is the framework that will work best for us.”
But this structure hasn’t worked for Bears. For a long time, for a long time. And when McCaskey was later pressed about whether this small change to the power structure was broad enough to warrant the hiring of a president of football operations, he pushed back.
“I don’t think there’s anything magical about the so-called Football Tsar,” he said. “At some point, the football person – whether it is the general manager or the executive vice president or president of football operations – has to report ownership to that person. We think the amendments we made will give us the right to the Bears going forward.” The structure’s got it.”
Thus it was no surprise that when McCaskey was asked to forecast how top changes might improve search-and-hire-and-evaluate processes, he was not confident.
“Organizationally it remains to be seen how much change is going to happen,” McCaskey said. “Because I did not have the report of the general manager (earlier). So I’ve learned a lot in this regard and I’m counting on the new general manager to help me with this process.”
At the very least, nearly a year after McCaskey and Phillips touted their collaboration skills as a potential catalyst for a return to team prominence, Nagy and Paes recognized the need to move on from the union. Eleven ugly losses later, the regression was impossible to ignore.
“Obviously,” Phillips said, “we were not pleased with the results.”
With the third season in a row in which the Bears went more than 40 days between victories – in this case, 46 days elapsed between the team’s third and fourth victories – volatile feelings grew in Halas Hall.
“Usually, they are season-enders,” McCaskey said. “I admire the way our people stick together and don’t point fingers. But at some point the general manager and head coach have to figure out a way to get us out of the losing streak before the season is ruined. ,
Now the decision makers above general manager and head coach must find a way to find leaders for the roles that can spark high-level success, then maintain it without having to constantly clean up their mess.
On Monday, the Bears began a new pressure-packed search process, needing to find a GM and a coach to rescue them. Yet it’s hard to know how different the search process would be compared to 2015, when the team used Ernie Accorsi as consultant and hired Pace and John Fox, who went 14–34 in three seasons together. .
This time, it’s 79-year-old Bill Polian, a Hall of Famer and a highly respected football saint, who is helping drive the process. Polian will accompany McCaskey and Phillips in all the Bears interviews. Lamar “Soup” Campbell, the team’s vice president of player engagement, and Tanesha Wade, have recently been promoted to senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Maybe those three news sets of eyes and ears and life experiences will generate valuable feedback and input and new perspectives to ponder. Maybe the Bears will eventually find a championship combination with the next GM and coach they hire.
But even McCaskey admitted on Monday that a loyal fan base was soon going to feel disappointed again, thanks to the disappointment.
“We understand that there really isn’t much that can be said today that is going to make people feel better about the situation,” McCaskey said. “And it may also happen that once the candidates are introduced, people will say, ‘Oh, you picked the wrong guy’ or ‘You didn’t get it right’ or whatever. The only opportunity to deliver results is on the field. And it won’t be for some time to come.”
Still, the Bears are going to have some big swing-takers in the coming weeks, going into the batsman’s box with a lot on the line. Outside curiosity revolves around whether they will confidently watch the pitches that come their way or will they make their next move with eyes closed and fingers crossed.
“We think in time it will be shown that we have chosen the right people to lead the Bears,” promised McCaskey.
But keep in mind, he is not a football evaluator. So subscribe at your own risk.