Bears board chairman George McCaskey heaped praise upon Bill Polian the day after the season ended.
Retained as McCaskey's advisor and a member of the hiring committee, Polian is the last best home for a respectable new coach and GM.
"We have a great resource available to us and we're gonna take great advantage of that resource," McCaskey said of the former Colts president and GM.
It is Polian providing the direction to the hiring committee and it's perceived that this is his show to run since McCaskey has acknowledged he is but a "football fan."
CEO and president Ted Phillips apparently has even less gridiron expertise than McCaskey, as his lone organizational tie to football decision-making was severed when McCaskey changed the organizational structure so that the new GM reports directly to him.
McCaskey is completely taken by Polian's knowledge and expertise at hiring coaches, and for good reason: Polian really hasn't hired a dud for a coach.
Polian hired Marv Levy out of the broadcast booth and the front office of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes to coach the Buffalo Bills. He hired Dom Capers from Pittsburgh to be Carolina's first coach, drawing the Panthers both a fine and lost draft picks because of their overly aggressive approach. Then Capers made the NFC championship game in the franchise's second year of existence.
Polian fired Lindy Infante and hired Jim Mora with the Colts. Then he hired Tony Dungy with the Colts and later promoted Jim Caldwell from assistant to Colts coach after Dungy retired.
McCaskey pointed out how even though Polian has been out of the NFL as an executive since 2012, it hasn't reduced his knowledge on the current NFL.
"I was struck in our earliest conversations with Bill, how very much on top of the game he is and even on our situation," McCaskey said. "When we called him out of the blue, he was asking us detailed questions about our roster, about our injury situation with particular players.
"He was very much up on the game in general and the Bears' situation in particular. So I think we'll be in good hands leaning on Bill to help us make this decision."
Polian's Secret Sauce
Although out of the game three years at the time, Polian told the Atlanta Constitution he has a "four-page checklist" for hiring coaches and it revolves around three criteria: sound football philosophy, track record of success and an ability to lead players through tough times.
All of this must be seen as a positive from the standpoint of the Bears, a team which must import someone to tell them how to hire football people. They know more about tough times than just about anyone in the NFC North except Detroit.
At least McCaskey has someone doing this work who is a proven success and apparently remains on top of his game after years of being outside and looking in at the sport.
The problem with all of this is the Bears are not going to get the full impact of Polian's ability with their current setup.
As usual, Bears dysfunctional structure is at the root of the problem.
Polian's expertise is in hiring coaches and presumably identifying potential candidates capable of being hired.
The only general manager Polian ever hired was his own son, Chris. This was with the Colts during the final years of his affiliation with that organization. The Colts fired Polian in January of 2012, and also his son.
So Polian doesn't have this proven track record of GM hiring success.
"Ideally, the GM would be selected first but if we see a head coach candidate we think is the right one we're going to do what it takes to get him in-house," McCaskey said.
Let Polian Do His Thing
If they let the GM help hire the coach, then what good is Polian's expertise at doing this? It's diluting his ability to help.
The Bears should simply go ahead and hire the coach when they hire the GM, because this lets them maximize Polian's expertise. They should do it now. Otherwise they would be getting the new GM's head coach instead of Polian's.
Obviously this GM they hire is going to lack any experience hiring head coaches. He definitely won't have Polian's experience at it.
Perhaps they'll arrive at this conclusion and let Polian hire the coach, but there are currently six more GM candidates than head coaches. So it would appear they're at least leaving open the possibility of input from the new GM on potential new coaching candidate, and will add these extra candidates to the list later.
Leave it to the Bears to take an obvious strength and a real asset in Polian's coach-hiring skills, and then not use it to its full potential.
It's a little like Matt Nagy having a quarterback with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash and then only calling 19 planned running plays for him all year.
This type of thing is nothing new. The Bears had high-quality people for years working out of Halas Hall in personnel, like Chris Ballard, George Paton, Rick Spielman and Morocco Brown. Yet they let each get out of the building while bringing in people as GMs who repeatedly failed.
Now they could very well let their own dysfunctional hiring model dilute the potential impact a real NFL personnel man can have on their future.
What McCaskey should do is disband this silly little committee he has, remove his own fan-boy voice in the matter and anoint Polian to make the final decision on both the coach and GM as soon as he wants.
This would eliminate any possibility of people who are merely fans making the usual wrong choices. It would ensure Polian's true vision for a successful coach and GM are realized.
Perhaps this is what McCaskey intended all along, and he is merely going to rubber-stamp Polian's choice, anyway. It would be nice if they told everyone this to assuage fears of long-suffering Bears fans.
It doesn't sound like this is the case, though.
"I expect that we will reach a consensus on both positions," McCaskey said. "Ultimately, though, the decision on the next general manager and head coach will be mine."
A consensus and committees and collaboration are all well and nice but when someone knows what they're doing and isn't allowed to really do it, then the Bears would be following the model they have perfected within the organization for decades.