When the Bears started off 2022 by replacing Ryan and Matt with Ryan and Matt, many Bears fans were hopeful of this new regime, but skeptical at the same time. For the most part since 1985, Bears fans have constantly gotten their hopes up with each and every new coach and executive to come in. It can be tough to keep your excitement emotions intact when every new hire is deemed to be a ‘home run hire,’ only for the fanbase to demand a coach to be sent back out to Canada after two seasons. *Cough* Yes, I’m talking to you, Marc Trestman. *Cough* So when Pace and Nagy were asked to leave town, we all felt like we’ve been there before. Because we have. However, when the Bears hired Ryan Poles, there was a jolt of new excitement for the Chicago fanbase because the Bears don’t usually get the highly sought-after guy. Poles, an impressive new executive from the Chiefs reportedly had his choice between the Bears’ and Vikings’ general manager openings. He was a young and upcoming talent evaluator who had the respect of many front office folks around the league. So although he has been in office for just about a year now, here’s why he’s done a good job so far.
He doesn’t care about facing scrutiny
Personally, Poles earned my respect when he got to the Bears and immediately started making moves. I’m not talking about spending lots of money or going after guys that Bears’ twitter fell in love with. I’m talking about doing the exact opposite. He made it clear that he was here to do what is best for the organization, not short-term satisfaction for the fanbase. He started by sending Khalil Mack out to L.A. Every fan’s gut reaction was to be upset at Poles, but this was a move that needed to be made. The Bears got a couple solid picks in exchange for a player who was clearly on the second half of his career with a big contract. He did the same thing with Robert Quinn later in the year. Of course, fans at first were not happy to see two cornerstones of our defense shipped out the door. But Poles doesn’t care about facing criticism from fans, he cares about doing what is necessary for future success. He prioritized accumulating draft capital rather than holding on to older, fan-favorite players during rebuilding years and hearing it from the fanbase. I respect that out of a first-year GM.
He is honest and open with the media
Something that I respect a lot out of Ryan Poles is his honesty during press conferences and interviews. Recently, he and Matt Eberflus were asked about Justin Fields’ improvement throughout this season. He responded by saying that Fields was a great leader with tremendous running ability, but he still has lots of room to improve as a passer. He called a spade a spade. In years past, I was used to hearing great things only about every player and coach, not completely honest feedback. Say what you want about this being a smokescreen for the upcoming draft, but I viewed this an honest analysis of our most important player.
He values ethics and relationship-building
Throughout the previous free agency period, the Bears were mildly aggressive. We didn’t necessarily reel in any big-time players, but it was still a fine offseason. However, the thing that stood out to me most had nothing to do with contracts or even the players themselves. After each new player was signed, Poles went out of his way to thank every single one of the respective players’ agents. This was something I had never seen before out of Chicago. Contract negotiations can obviously be stressful and take a long time, so I’m sure each agent really appreciated this recognition. Almost certainly, these agents will remember this small touch during future offseasons and maybe it’ll help guide some of the other players they represent towards Chicago.
All in all, I’m pleased with the job Ryan Poles has done after one year in Chicago. He has shown a lot of maturity and professionalism as a general manager and that excites me as a Bears fan. Going into this offseason with the #1 overall pick and the most cap space in the NFL, Poles definitely has his work cut out for him. I’m excited to see how he handles it. Come week 1 next year, expect a much-improved Bears team.