Wanted: General manager.
The Bears, the NFL’s charter franchise, are seeking a hard-working, effective player talent evaluator who can help bridge the gap between the third-place Bears and the playoff-bound Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
The ideal candidate will have considerable experience in scouting, drafting and developing high-quality players on both sides of the ball.
This is a position for someone who can get along with head coach Lovie Smith, avoid off-the-field controversies and have a clear-cut strategy for the best way to win a Super Bowl.
Salary is negotiable.
The Bears will sort through dozens of candidates in the weeks ahead as they search for Jerry Angelo’s successor. But if their goal is to become a perennial playoff team and a Super Bowl contender, then they might want to narrow their focus to two questions.
A. Which teams have won consistently over the past decade?
B. Which decision-makers from those teams could help the Bears improve from an occasional contender into one of the league’s best teams, year after year?
Here is a look at five teams that dominated during Angelo’s up-and-down tenure.
• Green Bay Packers
2001-11: 111-65, 8 playoff appearances, 1-0 in Super Bowl
The Packers have emerged as the model franchise for how to build a Super Bowl champion. They rarely sign big-name free agents, instead relying on a string of successful drafts that have produced dozens of starters and a handful of stars. When injuries happen – and they do – a superior depth chart comes in handy.
The Bears would like to follow the same blueprint, so why not pluck one of the Packers’ executives to lead the charge? Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie is in his 18th season in Green Bay’s front office, and he reportedly is buddies with Smith from their days as assistant coaches at Tennessee. Another option could be Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey.
• New England Patriots
2001-11: 134-42, 9 playoff appearances, 3-1 in Super Bowl
It’s easy to dislike the Patriots and their coach, Bill Belichick, but it’s impossible to ignore their wild success in the past decade. No team has won more games or more Super Bowl titles in the new millennium, and the Patriots aren’t finished yet.
If the Bears want to mirror the Cubs’ front-office overhaul, they might want to gauge the interest of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio. He’s 36 years old and already has eight years of front office experience, and it’s possible that he would like to make his mark outside of Belichick’s shadow.
• Pittsburgh Steelers
2001-11: 118-57-1, 8 playoff appearances, 2-1 in Super Bowl
Every year seems to follow this pattern: Summer gives way to fall, and the Steelers win a bunch of football games. The Steelers have won at least 10 games eight times since 2001, regardless of whether their coach was Bill Cowher or Mike Tomlin.
The Rooney family sets the tone for the Steelers’ excellence, and none of the team’s personnel leaders have been rumored for the Bears’ opening. For what it’s worth, the Steelers front office includes general manager Kevin Colbert, college scouting coordinator Ron Hughes and pro personnel coordinator Brandon Hunt.
• Baltimore Ravens
2001-11: 104-72, 7 playoff appearances, 0-0 in Super Bowl
Talk about a team with a clear identity and a winning track record. The Ravens rely on an old-school approach that features a hard-nosed running attack on offense and a bruising defense that has earned a top-10 ranking nine times in the past 11 years. Think that philosophy jives with Smith’s? Yes, yes and yes.
That said, it’s no surprise that Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta has been mentioned as an ideal candidate for the Bears’ opening. During DeCosta’s tenure as the Ravens’ scouting director, Baltimore drafted Pro Bowl players such as Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice.
• Indianapolis Colts
2001-11: 117-59, 9 playoff appearances, 1-1 in Super Bowl
The Colts were unstoppable for most of the decade, winning at least 10 games in nine consecutive seasons from 2002-10. But a season-ending injury to quarterback Peyton Manning led to a total collapse this season, and vice president Bill Polian and his son, general manager Chris Polian, were fired earlier this week.
Bill Polian has an incredible track record as a six-time NFL executive of the year. But he’s 69 years old and is considered to have a strong personality, so he might not be willing or able to buy into a shared vision with Smith as head coach.