Prior to Monday's introductory press conference at Halas Hall, new Bears general manager Ryan Poles spoke exclusively with ChicagoBears.com senior writer Larry Mayer. Here's a transcript of that conversation:
LM: Congratulations on becoming the Bears' new general manager. What excites you most about this opportunity?
RP: "There are a lot of good players on this team, and I'm excited to help build this organization and help build this roster to get to where it should be, which is a championship-level team."
LM: How would you describe your philosophy of constructing a roster?
RP: "Building through the draft. Being specific on what types of players we bring in here that fit our culture, and also positional fits are important as well. So, we're going to look at traits. We're going to look at characteristics of the players we're going to bring in to make sure that they're the right fit for here. We'll also be selective in free agency. And just matching evaluation—what we see on the tape—versus valuation so that we're making sound decisions."
LM: When you were an undrafted rookie with the Bears in 2008, what would you have said if I had told you that one day you'd become the team's general manger?
RP: "I would have never believed that I would have gotten to this point. Obviously, being a general manager was so far down the road in my journey. But I think it's really cool to kind of come full circle."
LM: What led to your decision to hire Matt Eberflus as head coach?
RP: "The leadership piece was critical for me. You could tell he was a leader. My research told me he was an unbelievable leader. He's going to be able to get in front of the room and motivate the entire roster to understand that there are going to be things we have to do to reach a higher level. He has that. And then on top of that is just putting players in position to succeed. I think that's one of the most important pieces is putting players in a position to be at their best."
LM: With your hiring of Ian Cunningham, he becomes the first individual to hold the title of assistant general manager in Bears history. Why did you feel it was necessary to create that position?
RP: "The one thing I've learned just working with past general managers is you get pulled in so many different directions. That's just a part of this league. So, to have a right-hand man that can keep the evaluation process going while you're getting pulled in different directions is critical. And I trust in Ian. We have a great relationship. We have a very similar philosophy. And he's a good person overall, so he's going to be able to help bring the group together."
LM: What type of identity do you want the Bears to possess?
RP: "Tough and violent. A team that strains, that finishes. And the other thing is the ability to overcome adversity. That's one I can bring from Kansas City. There were some seasons, even this one, this year, as well as 2015, where we struggled in the beginning of the season. But guys pulled together. It was more of a problem-solving attitude than it was pointing fingers or getting angry. The ability to overcome adversity is huge."
“There are a lot of good players on this team, and I’m excited to help build this organization and help build this roster to get to where it should be, which is a championship-level team.” Bears GM Ryan Poles
LM: What's your plan to develop quarterback Justin Fields?
RP: "We've got to get our hands on him and meet with him and evaluate the tape at great lengths and get really detailed with that, And then from there, it's always pull it back to the fundamentals. Start over from the ground floor and build him up from there. And like I said, we have to put him in a position to succeed. What does he do really well? We're going to do that a lot. And what he struggles with, we're going to attack that and get better."