Newly minted Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles won’t have much time to enjoy the honeymoon period that usually follows such a massive career accomplishment. Instead, he has to get to work hiring the Bears’ next head coach, which at this point seems like a battle between Dan Quinn, Matt Eberflus, and Jim Caldwell.
Still, for Poles, it’s a surreal moment.
“The Chicago Bears are one of the flagship franchises in the National Football League and are recognized as one of the most prestigious clubs in all of sports,” he said Tuesday evening. “It’s an honor for me to join such a well-regarded organization. Together with my family, I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running to help get this organization, its fan base and the city what they deserve: a winning team and a Super Bowl trophy.”
Poles interviewed for the Carolina Panthers general manager job last year and the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants’ jobs this year and was well-prepared to impress the Bears brass and secure the gig this offseason.
“That whole process might have been one of the bigger events in my life, especially as a personnel man,” he said. “Once you finally put your philosophy — how you want to run a front office, how you want to build a team, what type of coaching you like, the type of players you look for — on paper and spend weeks and weeks and weeks doing that, and you present it in a good way to ownership and another head coach, you gain confidence in yourself how to do it.”
Now, Poles is the seventh general manager in Bears team history.
“We are thrilled to be able to add someone of Ryan’s background and football expertise to our organization,” team chairman George McCaskey said in a statement. “His accomplishments with the Chiefs speak for themselves and amplified the team’s standing as one of the premier franchises in professional sports. We are confident that under his leadership, we will reach our goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Chicago.”
Chasing the Kansas City Chiefs’ success isn’t necessarily a bad thing; they have been to four-straight AFC championships, after all. But the Bears have been down this road before with the hiring of Matt Nagy in 2018.
Nagy, who was Andy Reid’s understudy and an allegedly integral part in the Chiefs’ offensive success, turned out to be a bust once he left the comfort of Kansas City. And while there’s obviously a big difference between a coach and general manager’s job descriptions, the challenges of leaving such a stable franchise for one that’s generally been in disarray in recent seasons remain.
Poles seems ready for the job, however, and by most accounts, he has the character required to be successful in Chicago’s big chair.
“I know him. I know his character. I’ve sat and broken bread with him. I know how hard he is willing to work… I think he can do it,” Mathias Kiwanuka, Poles’ former teammate at Boston College, said of Poles last week when he was in the mix for the Giants’ general manager position. “He’s well-equipped for the job. He is more than up to the challenge. He gets it, and I believe he would bring that to New York.”
Poles gets it. He’s willing to work. For Bears fans, that matters. Especially now that there’s a franchise quarterback on the roster for the first time in… forever. Despite a poor 2021 season, Chicago’s window to make a run at becoming a consistent playoff contender starts now, and it requires a general manager who ‘gets it’ and is ‘willing to work.’
Poles is that guy. And the Bears are lucky to have him.