INDIANAPOLIS – General manager Ryan Poles is ecstatic about the staff the Bears have been able to assemble under head coach Matt Eberflus.
Shortly after Poles and Eberflus were named to their respective positions in late January, 19 assistant coaches were hired over a 13-day period.
"Everything that Matt and I spoke about before in terms of finding talented teachers that have emotional intelligence, that care about the players, that bring energy and also a developmental mindset, that's there and you can tell already," Poles said. "We're excited for that."
None of the assistant coaches from the previous regime were retained.
The Bears' new coordinators are Luke Getsy (offense), Alan Williams (defense) and Richard Hightower. Position coaches include Andrew Janocko (quarterbacks), David Walker (running backs), Tyke Tolbert (receivers/passing game coordinator), Jim Dray (tight ends), Chris Morgan (offensive line), Travis Smith (defensive line), Dave Borgonzi (linebackers), James Rowe (defensive backs) and Andre Curtis (safeties).
Assistant position coaches are Tim Zetts (tight ends), Austin King (offensive line), Justin Hines (defensive line), David Overstreet II (defensive backs) and Carlos Polk (special teams).
The Bears also hired Brent Salazar as their director of high performance—a newly-created position—and Jim Arthur as head strength and conditioning coach.
"We've made a lot of changes [in the performance area]," Poles said, "and we're confident that we're going to be able to take our players and really optimize their ability so they're in shape, they're playing fast, they're playing violent and they're explosive. And part of that is making sure the body is right."
After the coaching staff was completed Feb. 11, Poles and Eberflus ratcheted up preparations for free agency and the draft. Free agency will begin with the start of the new league year March 16, while the draft will be conducted April 28-30 in Las Vegas.
"We spent a lot of time meeting," Poles said. "We were behind for about two weeks and we've been able to catch up and go through the free-agent process. That took about eight to nine days. Then we flew our college [scouts] in and we watched a ton of tape and we went through that process and kind of got what I call 'the board' pinned down.
"We're still gathering information, but at the same time we wanted to get some of those players in the right area and not be too affected with what goes on down here [at the Combine] because as we get further and further away from the season, you can make some mistakes by what happens in shorts and the all-star games and really you forget about the meat of the evaluation which came from the season and the information our guys were able to gather.
"So, I'm excited. We're headed in the right direction. I've got a really good group and staff."
In preparing for free agency and the draft, Poles was impressed with the scouts he inherited from the previous regime. The Bears' pro and college personnel departments are headed by directors Jeff King and Mark Sadowski, respectively.
"I was very happy with the group of scouts we have right now," Poles said. "The meetings were incredible, and before we broke, I told them all how proud I was. As a new GM, you come in and you're evaluating the evaluators. At the end of it, the thing that stood out to me is there's a group of really, really good people that worked really hard this fall to gather the information.
"My style was a little bit different, our meeting structure was different. It was a culture of candor. It's open. We watch tape. We have an order in the way we watch the tape. But after that, everyone can speak their mind. If I see something different than you, then I bring it up to the room and we work through it. You can tell me where you saw it different and we'll go find it. That group effort, I think, was refreshing to everyone. Again, I can't speak more highly of the group that we had in the room. I'm excited. We'll continue to evaluate. But I was pumped about that."
Poles is just as excited about the help he's received from assistant general manager Ian Cunningham, whom Poles hired Jan. 29 to be his right-hand man.
"He's been a huge part for me only because getting pulled in so many different directions, that's very new to me," Poles said. "Having him out in front and working with our staff, if I get pulled out of a meeting, he keeps the ball rolling, keeps a list of players that I need to get caught up on. All systems are moving and we don't get stalled out for all of the things that are going on."