Bill Polian

Bears Eyeing Major Staff Changes?

While the Matt NagyRyan Pace regime showed early issues, the Bears did not produce a losing season until the fourth and final year of that partnership. Although circumstances are a bit different for Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles, the team is in a worse spot than it was during the previous duo’s run.

The Bears have now lost 13 straight games, and their defense has cratered under Eberflus, a defensive-oriented head coach. Alan Williams, the defensive coordinator who followed Eberflus from Indianapolis, lasted only 18 games with the team. Inappropriate conduct on Williams’ part is believed to have occurred, and the Bears’ defense has taken significant steps back since Eberflus arrived. While the Bears have gutted the nucleus that helped Mitch Trubisky pilot the team to two playoff berths, it finished last in points allowed in 2022 and ranks 31st this season.

Following Williams’ exit and Justin Fields making comments about the coaching staff’s role in his struggles — a point the third-year QB attempted to walk back — Poles addressed the state of the team. The Bears are early in the Poles-run rebuild, but a new president — ex-Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren — is in place. A growing suspicion exists in league circles Warren is already considering rebooting the operation, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes.

Fields ranks last in QBR, sitting nearly six points behind Zach Wilson, through three games. The Poles regime did not draft Fields, who threatened to break Lamar Jackson‘s single-season QB rushing record last season, but has a clear stake in his future. The Bears traded away the No. 1 overall pick, showing a belief in Fields over an investment in the likes of Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Chicago should be well-positioned for the 2024 draft, holding their own pick and Carolina’s. Another QB investment may be necessary, but it will be worth wondering if this regime will be in place to make the picks by then.

One GM told La Canfora that Warren has seen enough to know change needs to take place. The Bears do not fire coaches in-season, and it would represent a quick trigger to dump Poles so early in his rebuild effort. But two-and-done coaches are standard practice in the NFL. Quick GM hooks are less common, though these moves have taken place in the recent past. The Jets dropped John Idzik after his second season, while the Texans canned Brian Gaine midway through his second offseason.

Warren arrived in January, succeeding longtime team president Ted Phillips. The latter was in his final months on the job when Poles and Eberflus were hired, and La Canfora notes Bill Polian played a lead role in the hires. The Bears have kept their organizational workflow in place from the Phillips era, with Warren stationed as the buffer between ownership and the football ops department. Warren would have the power to fire the second-year GM-HC duo and lead the next search. Not directly in charge of the Bears’ football ops, Warren is believed to have a role on that side.

The Bears have not had a two-and-done HC since Marc Trestman, who was fired after the 2014 season. Trestman also stands as the Bears’ only two-and-done period since the 1970 merger. Trestman went 13-19. Poles should be considered on safer ground, but Eberflus — now in place as the Bears’ defensive play-caller — should certainly be viewed as a hot-seat occupant given recent developments.

Bears Request To Interview Chargers’ Wooden

Do not be surprised if you start getting calls from Chicago because the Bears are searching far and wide to fill their vacant general manager position and they are interviewing EVERYBODY! The newest candidate to add to the list is Chargers’ director of player personnel, JoJo Wooden, according to a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Wooden has been with the Chargers since 2013 overseeing the pro and college scouting department for the Chargers. He got his start with the Jets in 1997 and spent 10 seasons working his way up from pro personnel assistant to the assistant director, player personnel, a position he held for six more years.

What makes Wooden an interesting candidate for the Bears’ job is the connections he has to the search committee. Bears Senior Writer Larry Mayer reported a couple days ago that Bill Polian, who has spent time as a general manager for the Bills, Panthers, and, most notably, the Colts, will be a resource to the Bears as they go through the process of hiring a new head coach and general manager. Wooden is known as a key lieutenant for the Chargers’ current general manager Tom Telesco, and Telesco worked under Polian during Polian’s entire tenure in Indianapolis.

To date, the Bears have already interviewed the Browns’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Glenn Cook and their own assistant director of player personnel, Champ Kelly. They’ve also requested interviews with the Colts’ Morocco Brown and Ed Dodds, the 49ers’ Ran Carthon, the Saints’ Jeff Ireland, the Steelers’ Omar Khan, the Giants’ Joe Schoen, and the Patriots’ Eliot Wolf. Texans’ former general manager Rick Smith has also been identified as a candidate.

Extra Points: Brown, Steelers, CBA, Draft, AAF

We heard yesterday that an Antonio Brown trade was “close” and that three teams were “still alive”, but over 24 hours later we still don’t have a deal. While we await an end to the saga, it’s worth examining why the Steelers are so willing to meet Brown’s demands and trade him, writes Mike Florio of Florio questions why the Steelers are seemingly “letting Brown dictate the terms of his employment,” and came up with a hypothesis based on his relationship with Ben Roethlisberger.

Brown has publicly gone after Roethlisberger in recent weeks, which could’ve solidified the Steelers’ resolve to ship him out. Florio theorizes that the feud between Brown and Roethlisberger isn’t just one-sided, and that Roethlisberger may be pushing for Brown to be gone behind the scenes. Florio thinks Roethlisberger may have given Pittsburgh’s management an ultimatum, and that could be why the team hasn’t tried to reconcile with Brown at all. It makes some sense, and if nothing else it’s an interesting theory.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • There’s been a lot of talk about a potential work stoppage when it comes time to negotiate the next CBA between the owners and the players’ union. There will be intense battles over things like contract guarantees, but one area the league plans to cede ground is on the substance abuse policy. The NFL is poised “to make major concessions regarding the substance-abuse policy, especially as it relates to marijuana,” according to Florio. Florio cautions that the details haven’t been ironed out yet, but the new CBA could completely get rid of any mention of Marijuana, making it permissible for everyone in the league.
  • There was a lot of talk about whether or not Kyler Murray made a bad impression in his combine interviews, but one player certainly did. Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite interviewed terrible, and his draft stock “is taking a massive tumble” as a result, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Polite had been projected by many as a first round pick, but that now appears to be in serious jeopardy. Polite also performed poorly in the athletic testing portion of the combine, and later claimed an injury was responsible.
  • The new startup football league, the AAF, has had a tumultuous start. There was a good amount of drama surrounding their finances after the first week, but things appear to have stabilized since then with a huge $250MM investment coming from NHL owner Tom Dundon. Now Bill Polian, the Hall of Fame former Colts GM and one of the founders of the AAF, is hopeful about a potential partnership with the NFL. Polian said in a recent conference call with reporters that talk about a formal partnership with the league “is ramping up” behind the scenes, according to Tom Krasovic of The San Diego Union Tribune. “Our hope would be that that would happen as quickly as it possibly can,” Polian added.


NFC East Notes: Giants, Redskins, Jones

Now that the Giants front office and coaching staff is set to go through a number of changes after the firing of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo, there’s a ton of speculation of who could be the person put in charge to bring the franchise back to perennial success.

While many people think the hire will come outside the organization, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network thinks interim GM Kevin Abrams should not be overlooked as the Giants begin their search.

Garafolo notes that Abrams is a “cap guy by trade”, but has worked on his scouting ability in recent years and has “attended multiple NFL seminars” to prepare to lead a football operations department. A number of names are likely to be floated for the job given that the team will likely have a high pick and has a track record of winning, but Abrams seems like he might get a realistic shot at turning his interim tag into a full-time position.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Apart from Abrams, Mike Sando of speculated a few candidates from outside the organization who could be contenders for the Giants general manager and head coaching gigs. Sando names front office guys like Nick Caserio from the Patriots, former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and former Colts President Bill Polian. He also highlights many well known up-and-comers such as Eric DeCosta (Ravens), George Paton (Vikings), Eliot Wolf (Packers) and Terry McDonough (Cardinals) among many others. Sando added that former GM’s Scott Pioli (Falcons) and John Dorsey (free agent) could be intriguing hires as well. In terms of potential head coaching candidates, Sando names guys who were on the teams original list back before they hired McAdoo prior the 2016-17 season. This would include current coordinators like Teryl Austin (Lions) and Mike Smith (Buccaneers). An under-the-radar name to watch is Texans defensive coordinator, Mike Vrabel, who is best known for his time leading the Patriots defense to Super Bowl titles.
  • While the Redskins are out of the NFC playoff race after losing to the Cowboys last Thursday, that doesn’t mean that team will start resting their players, states John Keim of He passes along that Head coach Jay Gruden said that he wouldn’t rest some of their injured starters just because the games don’t have postseason implications for the team. “They’re all trying to get back in the lineup,” Gruden said. “They’re going to play hard because they want to win and want to do well. That’s the reason they’re all here. We try to target guys that love football, are passionate about the game and are going to play hard no matter what. For the most part, we’ve got that here. So whether you are on one year left or five years left, doesn’t really matter.” Starters like left tackle Trent Williams, right tackle Morgan Moses and tight end Jordan Reed have all dealt with nagging injuries this season, but it appears that the Redskins won’t just solely be resting key players hoping that could lead to a better draft pick.
  • Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones has not played in a game this season as he’s continued to rehab the achilles that he had torn back in March. However, the rookie has yet to participate in practice, reports Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Jones has been eligible to start practicing since the beginning of Week 7, but has just a 21 day time period to be activated to the roster once he does begin to take part in practice. It’s important to note that Berman explains in a follow-up tweet, Jones could just use the last three weeks of the regular season to get extra reps and get a head start on his offseason training. The Eagles currently have corners Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas patrolling the defensive backfield.

AFC Notes: Colts, Bills, Jets, Jones

While the Colts are set for a front-office transition, they are set to return most of their offensive coaching staff, with one exception. The Bills’ previous wide receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, will make the move to Indianapolis to work in the same capacity, Adam Caplan of reports (on Twitter). Lal coached Buffalo’s wideouts for two seasons. Between 2009-14, he worked with the Raiders’ and Jets’ receiving corps. Lal replaces Lee Hull, whom the team dismissed.

Aside from that switch, the Colts will return OC Rob Chudzinski‘s staff. Former Dolphins HC Joe Philbin will remain in charge of Indianapolis’ offensive line, Quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer will return as well. Although, no such assurances are made to this staff beyond the 2017 season, and per Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, the assistants are exhibiting a sense of relief at the Senior Bowl that Ryan Grigson‘s firing did not come with a sizable staff shakeup.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • Jim Irsay continues to consult with former Colts GM Bill Polian, per Holder, about the search to replace Grigson. Holder isn’t certain the Hall of Fame executive will sit in on the interviews, but it’s clear he’s functioning as a sounding board for his former boss.
  • When Doug Whaley listed some of the Bills‘ free agents, he categorized three players (Stephon Gilmore, Robert Woods and RFA punter Colton Schmidt) as starters before pointing to the other 25 players in that grouping as performers brought in for depth purposes. “The rest of those guys, we brought in for backup depth purposes and they’ve played extremely well, and that’s a compliment to our pro personnel department,” Whaley said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “But we feel we have confidence that we can get a lot of those guys back on extended contracts.” Mike Rodak of points out UFAs like Lorenzo Alexander, right tackle Jordan Mills and Zach Brown enhanced their value this season (Twitter links) and won’t likely be regarded as depth players once they hit free agency. Rodak (via Twitter) also doesn’t see Alexander, used as an outside linebacker in Rex Ryan‘s 3-4 scheme, as a fit in Doug McDermott‘s 4-3.
  • The Jets are almost certainly set for some type of negotiation with Darrelle Revis about reducing his contract, but should he return in 2017, a transition to safety is in play. New Jets secondary coach Dennard Wilson said he “wouldn’t think it would be a problem” for Revis to take up playing on the back line, per Connor Hughes of Wilson demurred when asked whether he wants Revis on the 2017 team. The Jets can save $9MM by cutting Revis before the second day of the new league year but will incur a $6MM dead-money hit — one that would be alleviated, due to offset language, if Revis lands elsewhere.
  • Gang Green has done “extensive homework” on former Texans OC George Godsey, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Rapoport views Godsey, who mutually parted ways with the Texans after the team’s divisional-round loss to the Patriots, as a strong candidate to succeed Chan Gailey.
  • One of the Jets’ considerations with their No. 6 overall pick will be North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Tony Pauline of notes. However, Pauline said upon discussions at the Senior Bowl that labeling the Jets as being infatuated with the early-entry Tar Heels talent may be a bit overblown, noting the Jets are part of a “pack of teams” at the top of the draft considering Trubisky.
  • Adam Jones could face a suspension next season after his profanity-laced tirade against police officers was captured on video. The Bengals cornerback issued an apology statement, via the Associated Press, following the franchise’s apology. Jones will be set for his age-34 season next year, which doubles as the second year of his latest Bengals contract.

Latest On Colts’ Decision-Making Structure

The Colts will conduct an expansive GM search, owner Jim Irsay said Saturday (via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, on Twitter) and one that will include internal candidate Jimmy Raye III. The team will interview Raye, the Colts’ VP of football operations, for the position, and Raye will serve as interim general manager in the meantime.

Raye and Chuck Pagano will travel to the Senior Bowl to head up the team’s presence there. Pagano will stay on as the Colts’ coach in 2017, Adam Schefter of tweets. This comes after Irsay fired GM Ryan Grigson, whose hire led to Pagano’s in 2012.

I hope Chuck can be our coach for many years to come. He is our coach,” Irsay said.

Another report surfaced just before Irsay’s press conference noting Peyton Manning has a high-level Colts executive job waiting for him if he wants it, Albert Breer of writes. However, Irsay said today Manning is not in consideration for the GM job, Scheter tweets. The owner and his previous employee had conversations this offseason, however, and Breer tweets Manning would be considered for a role in the organization, per Irsay.

Regarding the Jon Gruden pursuit, Irsay denied he talked to the current ESPN analyst for the team’s HC position. Instead, the owner said the conversations with Gruden were to get feedback on the team, per Holder (on Twitter). Irsay also said he’s had discussions with former GM Bill Polian but added he will not have a role with the organization, Holder tweets.

Raye interviewed for the 49ers’ GM job but was not given finalist consideration. Irsay noted today he has a list of candidates in mind, but the assortment is fluid at this point, Holder tweets.

Bill Polian Denies Bears Rumors

Could executive Bill Polian come out of retirement to join the Bears? The Hall of Famer is telling people close to him at ESPN that it’s not in the cards, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes. Bill Polian (vertical)

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It’s absolutely wrong,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter told WMVP-AM 1000. “He laughed at the idea of it and was trying to figure out the genesis of it because he’s had absolutely no contact with anybody there. There is no job … and he was befuddled how he could be connected to the job.”

In the midst of a 3-10 season, there are big changes coming in Chicago. Whether those changes include a front office shakeup remains to be seen, but if Polian is to be believed, he will not a part of that turnover. Polian, 74, is a longtime friend of the team’s owners, but two of his television colleagues have been told that there have been no conversations between him and the organization regarding a job. Furthermore, the “senior advisory role” that he has been connected to does not currently exist in the organization.

Polian has worked as the general manager of three teams: the Bills, the Panthers, and most recently, the Colts. For now, it sounds like he is content with his second career in broadcasting.

Bill Polian Receptive To Front Office Offers

Longtime NFL general manager Bill Polian is open to returning to a front office job, and would “strongly consider” a senior advisory role if offered, according to Jason La Canfora of The Bears, specifically, could be one option for Polian if Chicago decides to rework its decision-making structure.Bill Polian (Vertical)

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The Bears could restructure its front office after the season, per La Canfora, but it’s unclear whether that would mean parting ways with current general manager Ryan Pace. In any event, Polian sounds more open to a “football czar” role in which he could oversee a franchise’s roster machinations and coaching staff from a 30,000-foot view. While the Rams have also been tossed out as a contender for Polian’s services, the veteran executive is said to prefer a Midwestern team.

Polian was thought to be in talks for a advisory role with the Bills prior to the 2015 season, but ultimately decided to remain an ESPN contributor. Polian continued to offer informal advice to Bills owner Terry Pegula in the following months, but indicated that he wasn’t interested in a formal job with Buffalo. “If anybody asks, sure. If anyone has questions, I’m happy to answer and happy to help in any way I can,” Polian said at the time.

Polian, 74, has worked as the general manager of three teams: the Bills, the Panthers, and most recently, the Colts, with whom he won a Super Bowl in 2007. Indianapolis fired him as GM after the 2011 season. A highly-decorated personnel man, Polian is a six-time recipient of the NFL’s Executive of the Year award and a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee.

Bill Polian Not Interested In Formal Role With Bills

Former NFL general manager and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian is happy to offer suggestions and ideas for how to improve the Bills, as he did last week, but he isn’t interested in any sort of formal role in the team’s front office, he tells John Murphy of

“Anything I could do to help in any way, I would,” Polian said on Tuesday. “But any kind of a formal role is absolutely precluded. Nor am I seeking that. I’m very happy with what I’m doing at ESPN.”

While there were indications last week that Polian might consider a consulting role with the Bills, he made it clear to Murphy that he’ll only talk to Buffalo or any another NFL team about football matters on an informal basis.

“There was a question later on which related to consulting, and which I misunderstood,” Polian said. “The committee on which I serve, the NFL Personnel Development Committee, has members – Charley Casserly, Ron Wolf, Ernie Accorsi – who frequently serve as consultants to teams when they go through the hiring process. And I made it clear that even though some teams have asked me to do that in the past, I can’t do it because of the terms of my ESPN contract. That prohibits me from doing that.”

Given Polian’s history with the Bills and his relationship with team owner Terry Pegula, rumors and reports have frequently linked the Hall of Fame NFL executive to Buffalo. A year ago, there were indications that the Bills talked to Polian about bringing him aboard either in an advisory role or as a top front office executive, but he ultimately decided to stay at ESPN. While Polian doesn’t plan on officially joining the Bills anytime soon, he still wants to see the franchise succeed.

“If anybody asks, sure. If anyone has questions, I’m happy to answer and happy to help in any way I can. And that includes whatever I could do for the community,” Polian said, referring to his conversations with Pegula. “I’m going to make a speech this spring in the community. Things I can do along those lines, I’m very happy to do. I want the Bills to do well. That’s the overarching message — I want the Bills to do well.”

Bills Rumors: Polian, Taylor, Whaley, Williams

After declining to re-join the Bills’ front office in January, Bill Polian has volunteered his services to the current Bills’ hierarchy as a consultant, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reports.

The Bills’ general manager from 1986-1992 and 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, Polian told Carucci he will only provide consulting services for the Bills.

Listen, I owe this franchise virtually everything I have in the National Football League,” Polian said. “A good reason why a yellow jacket’s on my shoulder is because of the Buffalo Bills. The bottom line is, I want this team to succeed.”

Although the 73-year-old Polian turned down an offer to be the Bills’ football czar, his being inducted into the Hall of Fame in August could help his chances at departing ESPN and reuniting with his former team, Carucci writes.

Here are some more Polian- and Bills-related items on Christmas Eve.

  • Among the stances Polian offered to owner Terry Pegula in recent months was that semi-breakout quarterback Tyrod Taylor is not the team’s long-term answer under center. “You can win with Tyrod if the other pieces are good,” Polian told Carucci. “If there are six or seven Pro Bowlers at other positions, you can win with Tyrod. But he’s not the quarterback of the future. He’s not Jim Kelly, and, although he doesn’t have the same track record, he’s probably comparable to Frank Reich. But he’s not 6-feet-4 like Frank Reich. He’s small and he’s going to get hurt, and he did. Now, you have to find his backup and the quarterback of the future.”
  • Polian also would likely cut EJ Manuel if brought in as a consultant after recommending the sputtering ex-first-rounder’s release to Pegula in a recent phone conversation. Manuel has one year left on his rookie contract and represented a source of friction between current GM Doug Whaley and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Carucci notes. The latter wanted Buffalo to retain Matt Cassel as Taylor’s backup, while Whaley, who played a key role in bringing Manuel to Buffalo at No. 16 overall in 2013, preferred the cheaper Manuel stay. Whaley has one year left on his contract, and per the Buffalo News, hasn’t had extension discussions.
  • Polian referred to the current Bills offensive line as “aging and unathletic,” a take that confused Buffalo News reporter Tyler Dunne, given that only Richie Incognito is over 29 among the current nucleus up front. Dunne also does not like the potential for coordination between Polian, Whaley and Rex Ryan, with Polian being critical of both recently.
  • Mario Williams‘ spree of assessments on the shortcomings of the Bills’ 21st-ranked defense continued, with the veteran insisting the current personnel does not fit Ryan’s scheme, per an Associated Press report. The 30-year-old edge presence also acknowledges his days with the Bills could very well be over soon. “Of course there’ll be changes,” Williams told media. “I mean, that’s obvious. You just wait and see if my number’s called.” Williams’ 2016 cap number of $19.9MM would be by far the most on the Bills.