Bears Chair George McCaskey hired Chiefs Exec Dir of Player Personnel Ryan Poles as the team’s next GM yesterday, "ending the Bears’ GM search 15 days after firing Ryan Pace," according to Patrick Finely of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The Bears “earned an offseason victory," as Poles “was supposed to fly to Minnesota” to conduct his second interview with the Vikings today. Poles is “the first person of color to hold the Bears’ GM title." He will "report directly” to McCaskey. The Bears “chose him over at least 12 other candidates” interviewed by the team’s five-person panel. At first blush, his résumé “looks a lot like Pace’s did” when the Bears hired him seven years ago. Poles is 36; Pace was 37. Each “spent their entire careers with one successful franchise.” Poles “spent almost 13 years with the Chiefs." Pace "spent 14 years with the Saints" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/26). In Chicago, Colleen Kane notes Poles “becomes the seventh general manager in Bears history.” Poles also “was a finalist for the GM jobs" with the Giants and Vikings. He also interviewed for the Panthers GM job last year and said that the experience “helped him gain confidence in his plan to run a team one day” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/26).
RUNNING THE SHOW: In Chicago, Hub Arkush writes McCaskey “has passed his first big test.” McCaskey has hired a GM who can now “be the top football person in the organization with unfettered control reporting only to him.” Poles will have "no time to celebrate" with his "first and biggest test of his first three or four years on the job coming in the next 48 to 72 hours" as he decides on the next head coach. Arkush: "Will he get this important hire right?” Pace "swung and missed" on former coach John Fox, in large part because McCaskey "strongly encouraged him to select Fox." Arkush: "Will McCaskey stay out of his way and leave him completely alone to make his choice as he's indicated that is the way his organization should run moving forward?" (Chicago DAILY HERALD).
WELCOME PARTY: NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo noted McCaskey picked Poles up at the airport when he arrived in Chicago, with McCaskey “wearing a Bears jacket.” He is “catching some heat for that on Twitter." But NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano said it was a “nice, homey touch the owner of the team picking you up at the airport.” Garafolo said McCaskey “apparently helped close” the deal with Poles. Siciliano: “For a proud franchise that once announced a new head coach in Dave McGinnis before they had even offered him the job, I think this is a nice touch. Why would you rip the owner? I think it’s great” (“NFL Now,” NFL Network, 1/25). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said of his longtime team the Bears hiring Poles, “People have got to do some work and have some accomplishments and achievements before I’m going to get excited given the last few years. I'm encouraged” (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/25).