PALM BEACH, Fla. – Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey has been pleased with how general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus have performed during their first two months on the job.
"I'm very impressed with how both Ryan and Matt have hit the ground running, getting us off to a good start in 2022," McCaskey said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "I'm especially impressed with Ryan's demeanor: very self-possessed, very confident, patient, disciplined.
"Impressed with the staff that Matt has assembled and the way that he and Ryan went about it and approached free agency and the preparations for the draft, and looking forward to the results."
McCaskey was asked what's been unique about Poles and Eberflus working together and what gives him confidence that their partnership will be more successful than past Bears GMs and coaches.
"Well, we'll have to see," McCaskey said. "I like the way they've gone about it; their thoroughness with the way they've been working together. The way that Ryan has structured his player personnel department and the way that Matt has constructed his coaching staff, we're encouraged by it."
With the Bears having 27 unrestricted free agents of their own, Poles knew he had a lot of holes to fill. As a result, he formulated a plan to maximize the second and third waves of free agency, seeking value with players motivated to prove they deserved more lucrative contracts.
Poles has executed that plan, signing nine unrestricted free agents from other teams: quarterback Trevor Siemian, center/guard Lucas Patrick, guard Dakota Dozier, receivers Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown, fullback Khari Blasingame, defensive tackle Justin Jones, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and linebacker Nicholas Morrow.
"That's where I've been impressed with his discipline," McCaskey said, "because he was very calculated in how he assessed various players that were available as unrestricted free agents and the limit financially that he was willing to go to with each player. He stuck to his plan, and I was impressed with that."
“I’m very impressed with how both Ryan and Matt have hit the ground running, getting us off to a good start in 2022.” Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey
It was especially impressive that Poles remained deliberate and intentional and didn't feel pressured to make a big splash in his first offseason as an NFL general manager.
"That's where I come back to his quality of being self-possessed," McCaskey said. "There's something about him. It's really difficult for me to put my finger on, but he's very confident and exudes that, and I think the other people on the staff pick up on it."
Poles' confidence was evident when he provided a candid evaluation of the Bears roster during his interview for the GM position.
"Anytime you're in that situation, you want to know what the person's assessment of your situation is and more importantly, what he is going to do to fix it," McCaskey said. "Ryan's assessment was blunt, and his plan to fix it made sense to us.
"We asked all the candidates to assess our roster, went down the roster by position group. Ryan's assessments, by my reckoning, were accurate, and I liked the plan that he had to address it."
For the first time, starting this year, the Bears general manager will report directly to McCaskey rather than team president/CEO Ted Phillips.
"We're working on a schedule to meet regularly," McCaskey said. "In the beginning, I wanted to give Ryan time to get his feet under him, and then he was moving right into free agency. We have a regular schedule and we'll probably be meeting more frequently as the season gets closer."