May 24, 2022


Analysis

Hub Arkush: What’s up, 9 head coach openings and no one willing to make a deal?

The Bears are finalizing a deal to make Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles their next general manager.

As we wait for the other shoe to drop at Halas Hall and a new head coach is chosen, here are a few random thoughts on the process to date.

What’s taking so long? If you would have told me on Jan. 10, also known as Black Monday on the NFL calendar, that we’d be sitting here 16 days later with nine head coaching jobs open and not a single one had been filled yet, I might have just dropped everything and rushed you to the psych ward.

The Raiders and Saints were late to the party, so a delay there is understandable, and, of course, the Bears, Giants and Vikings as well as the Raiders had to fill general manager spots first.

Still, this level of mass deliberation is unprecedented.

Is it possible that all nine primary targets still are working for Sunday’s four remaining Super Bowl contenders?

No!

History has been that assistants on those teams most often are punished because teams don’t want to be left well behind in offseason planning and the race to assemble a quality group of assistants from a picked-over pool.

I know this, however: The minute the first domino falls, we’ll see a rash of hiring that will make the average offensive line’s race to the buffet look like a turtle’s crawl.

Could the Bears be first? Bears fans can only hope, because if they’re not first, there’s a 50/50 chance they could be last.

There are a number of quality candidates out there, more than two or three, but definitely not eight or nine.

The Bears’ GM hire: In my business, this is the time of year you thank the Lord for unlimited minutes on your cell bill. Dozens and dozens of calls later, I can’t find a reputable source with anything but good things to say about new Bears GM Ryan Poles.

“Excellent evaluator, extremely bright, well prepared and organized, has a clear vision of what he wants to do and how to make it happen … "

It seems I’ve heard the exact same thing from everyone I’ve found who has had any experience with him at all.

One GM told me if he had to find a question mark on Poles, it’s whether he’s prepared to deal with the salary cap, which he hasn’t had to yet, but he quickly added that none of these guys that come from the evaluator side as opposed to the operations or administration side have that experience, and he should know enough folks to find a strong capologist.

The Jim Caldwell question(s): Look at Caldwell’s résumé, and you have to think he could/should be the first choice for all nine head coaching jobs.

But what was the undisclosed health issue that caused him to quit the Dolphins six months after taking a job as assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach in 2019 without ever coaching a game, and, at 67, is he a long-range answer or a short-term transition guy?

According to multiple sources, the issue in Miami was Brian Flores far more than Caldwell’s health. That leaves him on a long list of coaches and players who had that problem. It should not be a disqualifier.

But you’d like to think Poles is looking for his Andy Reid, John Harbaugh, Sean Payton or Bill Belichick so he doesn’t have to do this again in three or four years, lose or win, and it’s unlikely that’s Caldwell.

Other than that, Caldwell appears to check all the boxes.

The Dave Toub and Eric Bieniemy question: I will never understand why Toub wasn’t on the Bears’ initial list as well as all eight of the other teams with openings, and with Poles’ obvious history with him, I will be doubly disappointed if he doesn’t get a conversation now.

I am nowhere near as high on Bieniemy, but he is the perennial prince in waiting, and if neither can even get an interview here, we almost have to assume it is the final stake in their hopes of ever landing a top job.

At this point, waiting for them until the Chiefs are done can’t be the issue. Everybody’s waiting anyway.

Hub Arkush is a Shaw Media correspondent.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.