What To Make Of Bears' GM Search So Far

Photo: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

I have a confession to make: I’m very impressed with the job Chicago Bears consultant and former NFL general manager Bill Polian has done so far in his attempt to guide Chicago toward hiring the right general manager; not just a popular name or retread, but the right man (or woman) for the job. He’s assisting in the head coaching search too, and he’s been just as impressive on that front.

Initially, when the Bears announced Polian as the man who’d navigate the team’s overmatched and underprepared leadership group through the treacherous and challenging process of hiring a general manager, I was concerned. And it wasn’t because Polian isn’t a brilliant football guy whose resume of success landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Instead, it was a gut feeling that had me thinking Polian’s strategy would be a long and methodical one; one that would take longer than it should before an interview was conducted or a candidate was identified.

Instead, it’s been the exact opposite. The Bears have been the subject of daily tweets from the NFL’s top insiders sharing news of another general manager interview, or another coaching candidate who’s been identified. It’s been refreshing, and, in a way, exciting.

The list of general managers who the Bears have either interviewed or plan on interviewing is an impressive one: Ed Dodds and Morocco Brown (Colts), Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Glenn Cook (Browns), Jeff Ireland (Saints), Rick Smith (Texans), Joe Schoen (Bills), Omar Khan (Steelers), and Eliot Wolf (Patriots). That’s nine candidates, and there’s a good chance I’ve missed a name or two (or more) since you’ve read the first paragraph.

The list of coaching candidates is just as exceptional: Doug Pederson (formerly of the Eagles), Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier (Bills), Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles (Buccaneers), Dan Quinn (Cowboys), Brian Flores (formerly of the Dolphins), Nathaniel Hackett (Packers), and Matt Eberflus (Colts). There’s been no word of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh being on Polian’s expanding list, but it’d be hard imagining a scenario where he wouldn’t be included if there’s any interest on his side.

So what do we make of all this early activity? This flurry of rapid-fire news updates featuring candidates who were on every top-10 list prior to Black Monday? First, there’s the obvious expectation that the Bears will hire their next general manager before the head coach. It’s just good business to let whoever wins the general manager derby pick their coach, even if it’s from a list that’s been filtered down by Polian and ownership. At some point, however, Polian has to zero in on his finalists for the GM job in order to stay ahead of the pack in the race for the top coaching candidate.

In a way, the Bears could reach a stage in this process where it becomes paralysis by analysis; when all the candidates meld into one and it’s hard to find that right person—when interviews simply become interviews for the sake of interviewing. Naysayers will suggest it’s due diligence, and, sure, it is. Let’s face it, there are only 32 NFL general manager and head coaching gigs in the world. Take your time; it’s smart. But at what point does due diligence become too slow and too methodical?

We aren’t there yet. We’re only a few days into this massive undertaking that will shape the next decade of Bears football. We’ll likely know who Chicago’s top general manager target is over the next few days. Maybe it’ll be a week or two. But if the search extends beyond that, the Bears will suffer a loss far greater than any they’ve experienced on the field, one that could ultimately cost them their first choice for head coach.

Trust the process, right?

Written By:

Bryan Perez

Staff Writer

Bryan’s past stops include covering the Chicago Bears as the managing editor for USA Today’s Bears Wire and as a Bears writer for NBC Sports Chicago. He’s covered the NFL Draft for various outlets, including his time as the co-owner of Draft Breakdown. In addition to his contributions in football media, Bryan spent time as a Northeast scout for the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, is a licensed attorney, and most importantly, a proud husband and the father of two sons.