Chicago Bears: Despite not being popular, Poles’ moves are proving to be right

Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite receiving a lot of criticism, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles’ early moves have shown to be smart.

Chicago Bears Chairman of the Board George McCaskey knew that the team was in a mess when he finally decided to cut bait with general manager Ryan Pace this past offseason.

For the past seven seasons, Pace was in charge of trying to bring winning back to Chicago. Things didn’t work out, however. Under his guidance, the Bears went 48-65 and had just two playoff appearances. They didn’t win any playoff games during that time.

McCaskey felt he went as far as he could with Pace and that a change was needed. He formed a committee and went out to find a replacement. He was very impressed with Ryan Poles.

The rest of the people in the group were as well and they hired him.

Poles was given autonomy to run the team the way he saw fit. There was a lot of work to be done and he hit the ground running. He went out and hired Matt Eberflus to be the head coach. Then he went out and started the job of overhauling the roster.

There have been a few bumps along the road, though. The Eberflus hiring received criticism. He was the defensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts.

With quarterback Justin Fields‘ development being of the utmost importance, people wondered why Poles chose a defensive-minded coach.

In terms of the roster, Poles decided to cut or trade a lot of popular players. Out were popular players like Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Tarik Cohen, and others.

The biggest move was the trade of All-World linebacker Khalil Mack. Mack was a fan favorite and they felt that there would be a gaping hole in the defense in his absence.

Additionally, the Bears took a $24 million dead money hit. In fact, with all the moves he made, the Bears have a dead cap of over $57.6 million.

In their place, Poles decided to go with low-cost players. These are relatively unknown players who haven’t made much of an impact in the NFL yet. They are hungry players with chips on their shoulders. Again, many fans didn’t like what Poles did.

Chicago Bears: Poles’ moves weren’t popular but they were smart

While Poles’ moves haven’t been popular, they’re starting to look smart. Yes, Eberflus is a defensive-minded coach. However, Matt Nagy was a supposed offensive genius, and look where the offense ended up.

Being an offensive “genius”, Nagy felt his system was the end-all, be-all. He tried to force the players to play in his system and not adjust his system to the players he had. As a result, the team struggled.

Eberflus will be different. He’s in charge, but he understands his limitations. The Bears signed Luke Getsy to be the offensive coordinator. Getsy came over from the Green Bay Packers, a team with a great offense.

There will be more of a collaborative effort between Eberflus and Getsy that was missing between Nagy and his coordinators. Eberflus will have his input as the head coach but will be flexible in the execution. He’ll give Getsy the ability to run the offense most effectively.

We see now the predicament the Atlanta Falcons are in now. They signed Goldman and he was supposed to anchor their defensive line. However, he notified them days ago that he was retiring.

Now, with training camp about to begin, a big part of their defense is gone and there isn’t much around the league to find. When they had the need several months ago, there were more choices. Those choices dwindled.

The Oakland Raiders, who signed Nichols, placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a knee injury. While we don’t know the severity of the injury, it’s worth noting that the Bears have a healthy defensive lineman in Justin Jones.

With the cuts and the Mack trade, Poles cleared a lot of salary cap space. At the moment, the Bears have the second-highest salary cap space this season. Should some players who Poles feels could help in the rebuild become available, he has the flexibility to make the signings.

Furthermore, Poles set up the Bears for the future. The team has the highest salary cap space for next year. A lot of the signings made this offseason are for one year so the rebuild can start in full earnest next offseason.

When you factor in those expiring contracts and a rise in the salary cap, the Chicago Bears will be power players in free agency next offseason.

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Poles has no connection with the players he inherited. While the fans have their attachments to them, Poles’ priority is to build a consistently winning team. He has a plan and will stick with it, even if the fans don’t like it. They’ll like the results if he does his job right.