ATM: In Case It Doesn’t Work Out at GM: Part I

| June 2nd, 2021

The mood around the Chicago Bears has completely flipped since draft night, but we all know it can flip back rather quickly when the games begin. While it is common to say that drafting a quarterback gives a regime more time, recent history suggests that is no longer true. The Bears still need to show they’re heading in the right direction if Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are going to keep their jobs.

As of last week, Nagy still had the third-highest odds of not only being fired, but being the first coach fired. It is possible that Nagy would be fired and Pace would retain his job. (The LA Chargers have allowed Tom Telesco to hire his third coach and Rick Spielman is on his third with the Vikings. One drafted what seems like a star QB. The other gave a mediocrity millions.) But there has been some indication that Pace is no longer the top guy in the organization, with the Fields pick seeming to belong to Nagy. If you listen to Louis Riddick – and there is reason to do so – the coach and GM are at least on the same footing. That almost certainly means that if one is fired, they both are.

I’ve already written about replacing Pace but that was a lifetime ago. At that point, the primary focus was finding a quarterback. Assuming they have, the focus now shifts to building around Fields and learning to adjust.

With that, here are a ten of the top candidates to replace Pace should the Bears go that route. You’ll get five today. Five tomorrow. If you have better options, share them in the comments section below. 

Adam Peters, 49ers Assistant GM

Peters has been a top guy for three teams that have played in the Super Bowl; two in Denver and one in San Francisco. He was also an assistant with two Super Bowl champions in New England. At a certain point, you can’t ignore it when success follows someone.

What we saw in Denver and San Francisco were systems that put the quarterback in position to succeed. In Chicago he could have a franchise quarterback which would make life that much easier.

He’d likely want to bring in a coach from the Shanahan tree, since that’s where he has had success. If that’s true, we could see Mike McDaniel or Mike LaFleur be candidates.

Ed Dodds, Colts Assistant GM

Dodds might really be the brains behind the Colts operation and there’s reason to believe he was for the Seahawks previously. Perhaps the best help the Bears could give a true franchise quarterback is an elite defense and Dodds has done that in two separate spots.

Dodds has been in places where they’ve emphasized passing down the field and has been around enough coaches in his career that he should have a good read for who he wants leading the organization. (Hopefully, he has learned not to pair a young quarterback with a defensive coach.)

Will McClay, Cowboys VP of Player Personnel

If it’s about surrounding the quarterback with talent, few have done a better job than the Dallas Cowboys.

Their front office structure is a bit unconventional, but it has been made known that McClay is one person they don’t want to lose. The Cowboys may have the best group of receivers in the league and while they’re rebuilding their offensive line there is no reason to think it won’t be at a top level in the near future.

While their defenses haven’t been great, it’s hard to argue that has been a talent issue.

It’s not hard to envision a pairing of McClay and Kellen Moore.

Eliot Wolf, Patriots Consultant

I’ve made the argument for Wolf before and it’s widely believed that he was pushing the Patriots to trade up for Justin Fields. Others in the building were content with Mac Jones falling. (Wolf was the guy the Patriots entrusted to attend the top quarterback workouts, which I found telling because of how much Bill Belichick trusted an outsider.)

Now that the Bears presumably have a quarterback, I dropped Wolf a bit on this list. Concerns about his ability to hire a head coach – which he would absolutely want to do – are legitimate after the disaster in Cleveland. His father hit a home run with Mike Holmgren, then followed with Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman. Yuck.

But Wolf has been training to be a GM for his entire life. Forget the years he has been in the league, he was at the center of the team drafting Aaron Rodgers, despite barely being old enough to buy beer.

My biggest question comes on the defensive side of the ball. While the defense was good enough to win some years, there were far too many bottom ten years.

Joe Schoen, Bills Assistant GM

Few teams have done a better job of adding talent in key positions than the Bills in recent years.

Schoen is Brandon Beane’s top lieutenant, after the two worked together in Carolina. After finding a franchise quarterback, they managed to put talent around him. Schoen also as insight on at least one of the top coaching candidates, which can’t hurt.

The Bills figure to be contenders for years into the future and Schoen is a big reason why.

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