By Chris Emma-
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Seeking change in their organization, the Bears’ brass of chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips found their new football boss, Ryan Pace, who was introduced as the sixth general manager in franchise history Friday at Halas Hall.READ MORE: At Least 2 Killed, 17 Wounded In Weekend Shootings In Chicago
Now that Pace is in place, McCaskey and Phillips will take a backseat in finding a head coach and revamping the roster. While they will provide input, Pace will have final say over all football decisions.
“He has total control over the football operations — how he wants to structure the department, the people he might want to keep, new people he might want to bring in,” Phillips said. “His whole plan, it’s his call.”
Added Pace: “That was clear to me. It was all my decision when it comes to football. So that’s what was attractive about this job.”
The 37-year-old former director of player personnel for the New Orleans Saints, Pace is now the man in charge of the Bears. He’s the youngest GM in the NFL, but that didn’t play a factor for McCaskey or Phillips, who were unaware of that fact.
“His age wasn’t a factor,” McCaskey said. “He was the best-qualified candidate.”
The Bears — with the guidance of consultant Ernie Accorsi — interviewed three other candidates but couldn’t turn away Pace. He presented a plan to build the Bears into a strong organization from the bottom up, leaving the brain trust impressed.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Storms Coming Sunday
“All we were focused on was his experience,” Phillips said, “what he had to say about what he could bring to the Bears, and he just did a great job, from showing intensity, showing toughness, being able to articulate the kind of head coach he wants and how to build a roster.”
Added McCaskey: “You could tell by the looks on our faces (after the interview) that he was the guy.”
When McCaskey and Phillips last met the media, that following the dismissals of Phil Emery and Marc Trestman, Phillips spoke of the Bears’ goal to win a Super Bowl in 2015. He didn’t back away from it.
Only three times in NFL history has a team of five wins or fewer reached the Super Bowl the following season, but Phillips remains confident Pace can build the Bears to that level.
“Every general manager should look at the long haul, but at the same time, have a team that can win now, too — it’s happened,” Phillips said. “I don’t take back that comment.
“We want to win now. We want to have sustained success. And most importantly, we want to see progress continually, so that we can keep winning. It’s not just a one-time fix.”MORE NEWS: 43rd Annual Puerto Rican People's Parade Marches Through Humboldt Park
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.