(CBS) In his introductory press conference Friday at Halas Hall, new Bears general manager Ryan Pace made several points clear.
There’s no more important move he’ll make than hiring a new head coach, and to build a successful franchise for years to come, it must be done through the draft.
“I believe to have sustained success you must build through the draft and have a belief in player development,” Pace said.
After reportedly sitting in on an interview with Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on Thursday just minutes after being hired, Pace confirmed that he’s already scheduled more coaching interviews for the Bears. He didn’t reveal who those new names were. The Bears have also interviewed Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, both who work for teams still in the playoffs.
Pace doesn’t have any preference for an offensive-minded or defensive-minded coach. There’s “an urgency” but no set timeframe for the coaching hiring, he said.
“It’s just the best man for the job,” Pace said.
“The first order of business is to hire the right head coach to lead us to championships.”
While Pace will work in conjunction with chairman George McCaskey, president Ted Phillips and consultant Ernie Accorsi, he’ll have “final say” in the coaching decision. He’ll also have full control over the makeup of the 53-man roster, he confirmed. However, he also said he will report to Phillips, who some thought would be moved completely away from football operations decisions.
After working for 14 years with the Saints and ascending to become director of player personnel before this big career move, the 37-year-old Pace — now the youngest GM in the league — often referenced his time with GM Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton in New Orleans in his press conference. In his mind, the GM-coach and coach-quarterback relationships are the two most important in any organization.
Pace will work with the new head coach closely on the 53-man roster, he added.
Asked if rebuilding the Bears is a short-term or long-term fix, Pace referenced the process more than the timeline.
“The most important thing is we have a progressive plan,” he said.
Pace signed a five-year contract, McCaskey said.
Pace didn’t want to yet render any judgement on the future of big-money quarterback Jay Cutler, who led the NFL in turnovers in 2014 and who has $10 million of guaranteed money kick in on March 12.
“Our roster will be thoroughly evaluated,” Pace said. “That will be a critical first step in us making the right offseason plan and decisions.
“I understand for the Bears to have sustained success, we must build through the draft. That’s the key to winning Super Bowls — is stringing successful drafts together again and again.”