Towards the end of 2019 a brilliant proposal was presented by our own Ken Mitchell to the writers here on Windy City Gridiron.
“Through some act of providence, I (WCG staffer) have been hired as team president and given 100 percent control of all football operations. What specific offseason moves do I make? Who do I fire? Who do I bring in? What roster moves do I make?”
As a graduate with a degree in sports management, and having an analytical background as well, I just couldn’t pass this opportunity up.
Josh Sunderbruch started this series off with a bang, calling for a revolutionary overhaul of the franchise. Where I seek to modernize Halas Hall myself, my approach is going to be more balanced and even keeled. As you will see, as Grand Poobah of the Chicago Bears, I’m going to mix traditional scouting and evaluation methods with advanced sport metrics.
But first, a few matters to attend to.
Step One: Restructure the Chain of Command
Ted Phillips has been the President and CEO of the Chicago Bears since February 10th, 1999. Since then, the Bears have been to the playoffs a grand total of five times. They have three playoff victories, and one super bowl appearance. The Bears’ overall record has been below .500. It matters not if Phillips had a direct hand in roster management or not. His time is over.
Following my decision with Ted Phillips, I am re-shuffling the channels for the executive front office.
First, I am going to separate the financial departments and football operation departments entirely. Asking for any one person to handle both the roster and the money flow is simply too much work for the modern football franchise to deal with. A new position will be established with the title being “President of Football Finances.”
The positions of General Manager and President of Football Finances will both report directly to me. The GM will handle the roster, and the PFF will handle the cap space and contract negotiations.
Earning a long overdue promotion as President of Football Finances is current executive Cliff Stein. Yes, Bears fans, Cliff is actually still part of the franchise. He’ll control all the monies and directly oversee all player contracts for league conformance and negotiations.
Step Two: Manage the Front Office and Coaching Staff
We’ve all been upset with Ryan Pace, myself included. However, breaking away from Josh’s epic cleaning of house, I’ve decided to give Ryan Pace an ultimate “win or else” scenario for 2020. If the Bears do not reach the post season, he will be replaced. I will also have the final “yes” or “no” in staffing, player acquisitions, and draft picks.
I’m also making some changes to the positions reporting to Ryan Pace.
Josh Lucas, the current Director of Player Personnel, is one of those people who I will not retain. Replacing him is current Director of Pro Scouting Anthony “Champ” Kelly, of whom I have been impressed with in terms of acquiring and assisting in the retention of veteran talent the past couple of years. Director of College Scouting Mark Sadowski will join Josh Lucas out the door, too. Taking over that position is John Dorsey, who was recently let go by the Cleveland Browns.
With the promotion of Champ Kelly, there is one more vacancy to address. The guy I have sitting atop of my list for Director of Pro Scouting is none other than Louis Riddick. His experience as a director of pro personnel for the Redskins and Eagles was good enough as is. Of course, his adamant support of the Chicago Bears on ESPN is deserving of brownie points, too.
Next is to introduce a new subdivision in the management level of Halas Hall. Joining the departments of pro scouting and college scouting will be a dedicated department of data analytics and statistics. Warren Sharp of sharpfootballanalysis.com is my top choice for the new title of Director of Data Analytics. He will report to both Ryan Pace and I. The remainder of the staff will report directly to Ryan Pace, as normal.
Lastly, there is the coaching staff. Overall I am happy with the terminations so far among his assistants. He’ll be allowed to make his recommendations for his coaches directly to me, and if they sound good, I’ll sign off. I will advise him to delegate play-calling responsibilities to his new offensive coordinator, though. It’s time for him to focus on being the head coach.
Step Three: Finish the Overhaul of Halas Hall
We’ve seen quite the makeover at Halas Hall over recent years. The latest expansions included a new weight room and a media and relations conference center. Let’s continue this modernization, shall we?
Due to my desire for a data analytics department, I will order the construction of a brand new section to populate those personnel within. Inside this expansion will be the latest and greatest in software engineering, as well as plenty of space for staff meetings and a new collaboration room.
The purpose of that collaboration room is for the heads of pro scouting, college scouting, and data analytics to review all data, statistics, and film together. All three departments will be separate but equal. And, the more I can have all three divisions in unison, the more complete of a football operation we will be.
I’m also making an addition to Soldier Field. A long overdue addition...no, it will not be a dome. A dome will require a completely brand new stadium altogether, in all likelihood.
Instead, I am (finally) introducing a ring of honor for Soldier Field. We don’t have enough jerseys left to retire any more. And, there are too many all-time greats to not give proper recognition.
Step Four: Reward the Deserving Veterans
One major reason why I elected to keep Ryan Pace is that he’s done well in retaining key veterans over the years. We are continuing that program, and are bringing a few players to the negotiating table early.
Player number one is Allen Robinson. He’s the best player on offense, and a vocal leader in the locker room. There’s no way I’m going to allow him to walk out of Chicago without him setting all the receiving records, and earning a couple Super Bowl rings.
Next on the agenda is Eddie Jackson. He had a down year in 2019, but not necessarily because of his own skillset. Jackson is the best safety the Bears have had since Mike Brown, and he might have exceeded Brown by now.
Then, comes the decision between Nick Kwiatkoski, Danny Trevathan, and Kevin Pierre-Louis. All three are capable players who deserve to come back. In the end, I’m going to allow the market to determine their prices, and work hard with all three players for the most reasonable solution.
Step Five: Tweak the Roster and Aggressively Fix Problems
After meeting with my re-formatted staff, and reviewing all the facts as well as data, we are going forward in adding competition for Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. Also, we will completely overhaul the tight end position, from the top-down. And, we are going to continue adding weapons for both offense and defense.
For this process I am working with Ryan Pace and company to get this job done. Ultimately, I will have final say in all decisions. To start the process I’ll put out my free agency “wish list” in the form of a big board, much like how teams prepare for the draft. Then, the staff will make their recommendations, I’ll provide feedback, so on and so forth.
Unfortunately, we will have to move a few veterans along the way. Names on the table include Taylor Gabriel, Prince Amukamara, Bobby Massie, and Kyle Long. However, if Long decides to retire, he will be added in my ring of honor. He’s deserving of that at least. I will also work with current veterans to restructure a few contracts. After all, cap space has and always will be fluid.
We are searching everywhere for competition at quarterback. Free agency, trade market, the draft; it matters not. We will not, however, bring back either Chase Daniel or Tyler Bray. We certainly need better players to fill out the depth chart. Plus, cutting Chase Daniel frees up an extra $9 million to use.
Veteran players we will target include Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, Alex Smith (via trade), and Gardner Minshew (via trade). Teddy Bridgewater is a player we’ll make a run at too, but I expect another team flushed with cap to make an insane offer for him. There’s also the high likelihood the New Orleans Saints will slap either a transition tag or even franchise tag on Teddy.
In the draft we will focus on the statuses of Jake Fromm, Jordan Love, Jamie Newman, and Jacob Eason. However, if either the QB I desperately want in either Justin Herbert or even Joe Burrow slide for any reason, I’m instructing Ryan Pace to trade up for my guy. After all, if we can land my top franchise QB, then no price is too rich.
Likewise, if we don’t see any QB that we want on my board, we’ll look at the other positions and pick BPA. Drafting a QB for the sake of drafting a QB is nonsense. Pick guys you actually think can play in the NFL.
Elsewhere, there is the need to add more firepower on offense, and another pass rusher or two to play football with Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks up front.
Regarding the offense, Robby Anderson is the vertical threat we want to complement Allen Robinson outside. Eric Ebron will help solve the tremendous problem which is the tight end position. And Brandon Scherff is the mean SOB needed at right guard.
The draft is filled with plenty of young talent to add, including Anthony Johnson of Minnesota, Jared Pickney of Vanderbilt, and Mekhi Becton of Louisville. The more talent we can accumulate in my depth charts, the stronger my roster becomes.
Onto the defense, where I have decided to overrule and rescind the 5th year option for Leonard Floyd, allowing him to search for his money. He hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities, either. Aaron Lynch will be let go too.
A veteran I want to pursue for pairing with Khalil Mack is Bud Dupree, as he’s a guy who’s finally starting to blossom at just the right time. Danny Shelton is a guy we’d look to help beef up the D-Line with. Where I’d like to sign Chris Jones as a “splash”, he’ll be hard to squeeze in financially. Cory Littleton would be an option if we can’t work out reasonable deals with either Trevathan or Kwit.
The draft appears more attractive to address DB, but veteran options for Safety and Corner include Anthony Harris and Logan Ryan. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was solid, too, and we might bring him back if the price is right. If we have a chance at a clear upgrade, like Harris or Tre Boston, then I’ll decide to roll in that direction instead.
Back to the draft, there are many players we’ll look into selecting early. C.J. Henderson, Derrick Brown, Shaun Wade, and Isaiah Simmons are on my watch list. No matter what, we’re staying with the BPA concept here in Chicago.
As insane as all of this sounds, this goes to show I’m not locking in on only one or two scenarios. I’m more opportunistic and aggressive than anyone else in the league. Free agency and the draft go hand in hand. Use the strengths and compare the weaknesses of both, then proceed as needed.
Step Six: Tear Down the Damned Walls
We’re going to be an aggressive, forward thinking franchise under my leadership. We are also not going to isolate ourselves from the media or fanbase anymore. The time has come to completely open up to the outside world.
Instead of having closed off private interviews through singular channels, every single person in my franchise will be instructed to make themselves available. I don’t believe in leading behind a desk; I lead from the front. When the season goes well for us, we celebrate together with the fans. When adversity strikes, we’ll answer questions head-on.
I’m not a “rebuild” kind of guy. I’ll never ask for patience, time, or understanding of mistakes. I’ll just do my job, and adjust when necessary. That’s my message to all employees contracted with the Bears.
Under my vision we are doing everything necessary to update our philosophies. No more hanging onto the past; it’s time to honor those great players and coaches with wins and rings. From this point forward, we’re not going to accept mediocrity. We are to become the embodiment of excellence, just like what George Halas demanded in 1920.
It’s time to be relevant again.