Polian's involvement with Bears raises newfound questions in Chicago

At some point this season, Bill Polian’s overview of the Bears’ struggles became valued research in team's evaluation of GM and coachGETTY IMAGES

Pro Football HOFer Bill Polian "isn’t only steering" the Bears' hunt for a new GM and new coach, he also was "influential in the franchise’s decision to pull the plug" on GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, according to Dan Wiederer of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. At some point this season, Polian’s overview of the Bears’ struggles became "valued research" that team Chair George McCaskey and President & CEO Ted Phillips "used in concluding how to attach ramifications to the team’s fifth double-digit-loss season in the last eight years." McCaskey said, “We asked Bill to help us in evaluating our GM and head coach and in helping us make a decision to retain or replace. And if we moved to a replacement situation, (we asked him) to help us in our search to find the replacements.” Wiederer writes that "seemingly small disclosure -- that Polian was needed to help the Bears maneuver past the 'retain or replace' fork in the road -- was notable for several reasons." It was the "latest admission from McCaskey that his trust in his own football judgment remains minimal." Perhaps more "bothersome" to at least a handful of folks inside Halas Hall was the "surprising divulgence that Polian had been in the shadows for a big chunk of this season." But within Halas Hall, there are "some new questions about the trust factor." Some were "thrown off to learn of Polian’s oversight" of the '21 season while also "exasperated that neither McCaskey nor Phillips had the football wisdom to make such important decisions with confidence and without outside consultation" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/12).

DIFFERING OPINIONS ON MOVE: In Chicago, Hub Arkush writes Polian is the "most important man in the Bears hierarchy." There is "simply no one else anywhere on the NFL landscape with anywhere near those credentials to match McCaskey's self-professed lack of expertise." While Polian has been retired for a decade, he has remained "highly active and visible on the media side and as well connected as anyone in the business" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 1/12). However, also in Chicago, Jason Lieser writes the Bears "probably could have picked a better consultant," but this is "better than McCaskey and ... Phillips steering the search themselves." McCaskey seemed "smitten by Polian’s status" as a HOFer, a six-time Executive of the Year winner and the architect of the '06 Colts team that beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. He seemed "less concerned about how far removed Polian is from working in the league, that he's 79 years old or that the last time many people heard his name was in 2018, when he said Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson should switch to wide receiver." McCaskey’s reputation is "on the line far more than Polian’s." Most people will "forget Polian even was involved," but McCaskey’s record is "certain to endure" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/12).

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