When the Bears purged themselves of the Phil Emery/Marc Trestman brain trust, team president Ted Phillips and chairman George McCaskey hit the reset button on the group they entrusted to take the Bears to the next level.
It was the right choice, the Bears had not made enough progress and actually backtracked under the direction of the former GM and head coach.
To aid in their search the Bears brought in respected front office man Ernie Accorsi. Accorsi has spent some 40 years in the NFL at various levels of administrative and front office positions, including nearly 20 years with the general manager title.
Accorsi has had success at each stop of his in the league and has influenced a number of executives who currently preside over successful teams around the league. In this regard it was a slam dunk to bring in someone like Accorsi for the Bears, especially when their front office is void of that kind of football acumen among Phillips and McCaskey.
For one, I support the idea of bringing in Accorsi and I think that he can do a good job, but that doesn't mean that there are not some problems with bringing in a consultant.
The biggest problem, which can be be seen as a positive, is that with a consultant like Accorsi, they may not be able to cast a wide net with their search.
From Greg Gabriel:
While these men are astute and knowledgeable, they also don’t know as many young executives around the league as you may think. In all cases where they have been involved in a general manager hiring, the person that got hired had a connection to one of the consultants.
Any consultant is going to come in with some amount of bias. Consultants are generally people who are retired from the professional field in which they consult. While they carry much expertise in their area, in a situation such as this, where a consultant is asked to help hire someone, they will obviously lead the employer to people they are more familiar with.
In the case of Accorsi, who last worked full time in a front office in 2007, he is not going to know many young up and comers, more so established people. He will likely steer McCaskey and Phillips in the direction of a former protege of his.
That's not all bad though, because as has been pointed out, the Bears must move quickly and therefore don't have time to cast a wide net and do a long-term thorough search for a GM and coach like they did last time.
Also, this judgement that Accorsi will steer the search to his former employees and colleagues is not necessarily the case because a quick look at the list of GM candidates the Bears have requested for interviews shows that only one has a direct connection to Accorsi. Another article of interviewees also lacks in people without a direct connection to Accorsi.
The Bears have been linked to Lake Dawson of the Titans, Chris Ballard of the Chiefs, Eric DeCosta and Vince Newsome of the Ravens, Brian Gaine of the Texans, Ryan Pace of the Saints and Marc Ross of the Giants. Ross is the only one with a direct tie to Accorsi from their time together with the Giants.
It's likely that Ross would be Accorsi's first choice for the Bears while Phillips and McCaskey may lean toward a guy they are familiar with such as Ballard. Herein lies the issue: why hire a consultant if you may ignore his recommendations or disagree with him.
Perhaps I am jumping to a conclusion, maybe McCaskey and Phillips brought a list of their guys and Accorsi his guys and they will interview them all and then Accorsi will make his recommendation based on the interviews. After all, the Bears had interest in Ross before they hired Emery and it stands to reason that they would re-visit that with an endorser of Ross plus the familiarity from the last round of interviews.
Accorsi, as a consultant, has more hits than misses though, Gabriel runs through his history in the article I quoted above. Two seasons ago he led the Panthers to Dave Gettleman, with whom he worked at the Giants and in 2008 he helped the Falcons hire Thomas Dimitroff, whom has done a solid job for Atlanta. The Falcons have faltered but that can't all be on the GM, while their roster is far from perfect they've dealt with injuries and are in the midst of finding a new coach.
His one miss though was in 2009 when he assisted the Cleveland Browns in their search which led to George Kokinis. Kokinis was fired midway through the '09 season but with some digging it appears that either Kokinis wasn't really Accorsi's first choice (per this New York Times article) or that he lost in some kind of power struggle to then head coach Eric Mangini, the man who may have hand-picked Kokinis for the job, per Pro-Football-Talk and other stories dug up on Google. One thing is for sure regarding Kokinis; he was a part of a very toxic front office in Cleveland and may not have been entirely at fault for how that ended.
Dimitroff is the only person that Accorsi has recommended that did not work directly for him. Accorsi did have a professional relationship with Dimitroff's father, Thomas Sr.
The NFL world is a small one and while it might be a bad thing to have a biased voice come in and help lead the search for a new GM and coach, it also has some positive merits as well. The search will likely go quicker with someone who already has an idea of who the best candidates are.
In the nepotism-filled world of the NFL it shouldn't be a surprise to see so much buddy-buddy stuff behind a lot of these hirings. Just as in any line of work, networking and who you know will likely open more doors than cold-calls and first-time meetings.
Do you have a problem with the consultant process?