Chicago Bears brass rely on patience and perspective to guide long-term approach to this offseason – Chicago Bears Blog


PALM BEACH, Fla. — Ryan Poles’ first offseason as Chicago Bears general manager was filled with tough decisions and disappointments.

Over the past three weeks, the Poles have traded Chicago’s top passing thrower to Khalil Mack, a move – backed by head coach Matt Eberflus and ownership – that was both difficult but necessary, given the long-term team goals.

The splash free agent signing the Bears thought they were going to make do with Larry Ogunjobi was proven null and void when the defensive tackle’s surgically repaired right foot caused him to physically fail. The Poles said that delivering this news to Ogunjobi “ripped me to pieces”.

The process of pursuing Ogunjobi and then pivot saw Chicago miss out on signing other high-profile free agents as the Poles began filling more than 30 players whose contracts had expired or been released. by the team.

And the bad news continued to roll in when the Poles were informed that Ryan Bates, the restricted free agent guard the Bears had planned to sign, was returning to Buffalo after the Bills tied Chicago’s offer sheet.

The rookie general manager has every right to be frustrated, but that’s not the vibe he gives off. Besides lamenting that “it stinks” to lose a player the Bears had hoped to compete for a starting position on the offensive line, the Poles’ level-headed demeanor ensured he didn’t get caught up in the rush to make moves. only to fill the list.

“It’s funny, because there’s a lot of panic, like, ‘You need receivers,'” said Poles, who will have two second-round draft picks in the draft, which starts with Round 1. on April 28 (the draft will air on ESPN, ABC and the ESPN app). “I think Davante [Adams] was taken in the second, right? So there is talent.

“It’s not always going to be like this, I understand. And we will be patient. If it’s not there, we’re also not going to do it and force it.

That mindset was evident when Poles were asked if the Bears should add a veteran left tackle in case Teven Jenkins isn’t ready for a starting role in his second season.

“I would love to, but the only thing to know, and I think that’s where the mistakes are made, I can’t force something…” Poles said.

While those answers may not sit well with a fanbase whose impatience has grown with just two playoff appearances in the past 10 years, the Poles’ approach is what gives Bears president George McCaskey, reassurance that the team is heading in the right direction. direction.

“That’s where I was impressed by [Poles’] discipline, because he was very calculated in how he assessed the different players available as unrestricted free agents and the financial limit he was willing to go with each player,” McCaskey said. “He stuck to his plan and I was impressed with that.”

The Bears’ offseason is going as most would expect for a team at the start of a rebuild. It felt sluggish at times with a lack of marquee signings in free agency while other teams did everything they could to improve their rosters.

When the Poles were interviewed for the Bears job in January, his assessment of the Chicago roster was “blunt,” according to McCaskey. Even though he was in a job interview, the Poles did not water down what needed to be fixed. For someone who has already expressed his own lack of patience, McCaskey bought into the GM’s vision.

“Ryan’s assessments, by my calculations, were accurate, and I liked the plan he had to address it,” McCaskey said.

A season of change in Chicago also extends to McCaskey, who for the first time has the Bears general manager reporting directly to him, not team president Ted Phillips.

“I’m learning,” McCaskey said. “Ted was a good teacher and Ryan was a patient receiver, I guess that’s the best way to put it.”

Poles and Eberflus described an instant connection when the two were hired in January. Part of what makes it work is that collective patience.

Of course, the patience shown by all parties does not mean that it will stay that way. The Bears have had three coaches since 2013: Marc Trestman, John Fox and Matt Nagy.

Patience will also have to be applied to the development of sophomore quarterback Justin Fields, the former first-rounder who struggled as a rookie and is the focal point of the rebuild. McCaskey said the team needed to do “everything they can to get all that talent out of him.”

No, the Bears haven’t done enough yet to be confident that Fields will be in the best position to experience the “big leap” Eberflus expects from Year 1 to Year 2. And Poles surrenders. account.

“I want to give him everything I can, but you still have to build a whole team,” Poles said. “You can’t sit empty in one area and then just load into one area… We’re always going to be aggressive in giving him the tools he needs to be successful.

“It’s just the timing, the talent level and the ceiling situation, it’s all going to dictate when we can go and when we can’t go. But I think what we’ve done so far, it’s at least establishing a bit of growth in the roster, plus the scheme, with coaching I see it improving even from what we’ve been doing right now.

The draft will be the first chance for the Poles to build the roster through their talent selection and development philosophy, hinting that the team will try to create more picks than the six they currently have. The period after June 1 when cap losses become available could also be the way to meet outstanding needs when a team with around $17 million in cap space may be looking to spend on veteran players s they don’t meanwhile.

The goal for this offseason reflects the Bears’ realistic situation – the start of something new. And making it work this time around will require the patience that lured the Bears to their new leadership in the first place, prioritizing long-term gain over short-term spark.

“We saw last year how the Bengals can go from bottom of their division to play in the Super Bowl and come very close to winning the whole thing,” McCaskey said. “So what we are looking for is progress. How do they make up the team? How do they work together? Are we moving forward? Are we doing the right things? Are we doing them the right way? And again, looking forward to seeing the results.


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