By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) The Bears made a bold move by pushing reset on the brain trust, firing general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman on Monday. Now the Bears are faced with the monumental task of rebuilding a franchise that sits far from their stated goal of winning championships.
Chairman George McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips held court at Halas Hall on Monday, elaborating on the rationale behind letting Emery and Trestman go and also sharing the general schematic of their new plan. An overall timeline wasn’t revealed, but they expressed they would approach the process with a sense of urgency, which was palpable in the room.
“We have spoken to a number of people around the league whose opinions we respect,” McCaskey said, “including members of the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel, and we’ve hired Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to assist in the hiring of both positions. Ernie has a wide variety of experience and has been successful, and we feel he will provide a critical voice to our search process.”
Phillips went on to explain why Accorsi was the best fit among the available consultants.
“There’s a number of very esteemed people with great football knowledge and experience on that panel,” Phillips said. “We’ve already consulted with several of them and felt that Ernie was a really good fit for us, understanding what the Chicago Bears are about, both from our tradition and what we need going forward.”
Accorsi’s involvement will that be of a consultative nature, and he won’t remain employed by the team once the new general manager and coach have been selected.
McCaskey and Philips also also revealed that the reporting structure would remain as it is currently — with the coach reporting to the general manager, the general manager reporting to the team president (Phillips) and Phillips reporting to McCaskey. That means there won’t be a football czar who presides over football operations with a general manager underneath. This also begs the question about just how much things have changed this time through.
Thus, the top two qualifications of the new general manager must be a candidate with previous experience as a director of either pro personnel or college scouting and also resolute leadership.
Here’s a short list of candidates who may be part of the Bears’ impending search and who would make good sense to talk to.
— Eric DeCosta (assistant general manager, Baltimore Ravens): For the past three seasons, DeCosta has served as Ozzie Newsome’s No. 2 in the chain of command, overseeing both the college scouting and pro personnel departments — two departments he’s previously directed. DeCosta has spent all 18 of his NFL seasons with the Ravens, who have won two Super Bowl championships over that span. The Ravens have developed a model that produces a steady stream of homegrown talent via the draft. Back in 2012, the Bears requested permission to interview DeCosta for their general manager opening , but they were denied.
— Brian Gutekunst (director of college scouting, Green Bay Packers): For the past two seasons, Gutekunst has served as the Packers’ director of college scouting. The Packers’ stability is predicated on selecting and developing young talent via the draft. The Packers have one of the deepest and youngest rosters in the league, which speaks to astute scouting. Gutekunst has been a part of the Packers’ scouting department for 16 years. The NFL is a copycat league. Given the vast talent gap that exists between the Bears and Packers, it would be prudent to consider bringing someone over with knowledge of the division, and Gutekunst was originally hired by Ron Wolf and has spent the last 10 seasons working under Ted Thompson.
— Marc Ross (vice president of player evaluation, New York Giants): For the past two seasons, Ross has run the Giants’ scouting department and draft. The Giants’ last two draft classes have been strong, which coincide with Ross’ promotion. A Princeton graduate, Ross served as the team’s director of college scouting. His first year with the Giants was 2007, which was Accorsi’s last season with the team. Ross was one of the finalists for the Bears’ general manager opening in 2012 and has also been in consideration for other recent general manager openings.
— Chris Ballard (director of player personnel, Kansas City Chiefs): For the past two seasons, Ballard has overseen the Chiefs’ college and pro scouting departments. Ballard helped turn the Chiefs around from 2-14 to a playoff team last season. Ballard is a candidate with previous ties to the Bears. He spent 12 seasons in Chicago, serving as an area (Southwest region) scout for 11 seasons, then as the director of pro scouting in 2012. He was also part of the scouting department for the Bears’ previous four playoff runs. Last season, Ballard turned down an opportunity to interview for the general manager role in Tampa Bay.
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.