Bears’ searches to pick up steam this week
With second interviews reported for Ryan Poles (general manager) and Matt Eberflus (coach), one question still looms: Will the Bears really hire a head coach before a GM?
It’s difficult to tell in which direction the Bears’ rambling, concurrent searches for a general manager and coach are headed two weeks after GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy were fired. But at least it appears to be forward.
Both searches will pick up steam this week, with the conclusion of initial interviews and the beginning of second interviews for both jobs.
The Bears are scheduled to interview Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown and Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan on Monday for the GM opening, according to NFL Network. Ryan Poles, the Chiefs’ executive director of player personnel, is scheduled for a second interview Tuesday.
On the coaching front, the Bears are expected to interview Saints defensive coordinator and former Raiders coach Dennis Allen on Tuesday. Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is expected to get a second interview Wednesday.
Why the Bears’ search committee, which includes Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips, is conducting second interviews with coaching candidates before hiring a GM is anybody’s guess.
At the news conference announcing the firings of Pace and Nagy, McCaskey said the new GM ‘‘will be responsible for the entire football operation.’’ To give the new GM that authority without allowing him to conduct his own search for a coach would seem to be contradictory. But the Bears have operated in unorthodox ways under the McCaskey family, so perhaps it’s not quite as big an oddity as it appears.
When the Bears hired Jerry Angelo in 2001 as their first GM since 1987, they did it so late in the offseason — June 12 — that Angelo wasn’t in position to hire his own coach and inherited Dick Jauron.
That worked out in 2001, when the Bears — coming off a 5-11 season — went a surprising 13-3 and won the NFC Central title. That goaded Angelo into signing Jauron to a three-year contract. But the Bears faltered in 2002 and 2003, and Angelo fired Jauron and finally hired his own coach — Lovie Smith — in 2004.
A similar scenario ensued when Phil Emery was hired in 2012 to replace Angelo. The GM search was conducted with the directive that Smith would be the Bears’ coach in 2012. The Bears went 10-6 but failed to make the playoffs, and Emery fired Smith and hired Marc Trestman. The Bears went 27-53 in the next five seasons, and by the time of their next winning season — 12-4 in 2018 —Emery and Trestman were long gone.
Both the GM and coaching searches have been thorough, with many popular and intriguing candidates. The Bears have interviewed 11 candidates for the GM job, with Brown and Khan on deck. They have interviewed 10 candidates for the coaching job, with Allen on deck.
It has been two weeks since the Bears fired Pace. For what it’s worth, Emery was hired 26 days after Angelo was fired and Pace 10 days after Emery was fired. They’re right in between now. Maybe that’s the sweet spot.
The pace will accelerate this week, with perhaps a GM in place by Friday. Unless the Bears hire a coach first. With them, anything can happen.