Hall of Fame director Ron Wolf has always had a healthy respect for the Bears organization, despite his pioneering role in the Packers’ 30-year dominance of the Bears-Packers rivalry.
“There are four jewels in the crown and the bears are one of those jewels,” Wolf said. “There’s no National Football League without the Chicago Bears. I would think that would be an ideal place to work for, because of the tradition and history of the game. You can do a lot with that. It’s just a great place to to be.”
Wolf might have a dog on the bears side in that fight. His son, patriot scouting consultant Eliot Wolf, has reportedly been asked to interview for the Bears’ general manager opening. Hiring the son of the man most responsible for the disparity between the Packers and Bears over the past 30 years to reverse that trend would be an intriguing development — especially after Eliot Wolf lost to Brian Gutekunst for the Packers GM job in 2018. That’s a chip-on-my-shoulder story waiting to be written.
“You have to understand that I am his father,” Ron Wolf told the Sun-Times on Wednesday. “But let me say one thing: he is his own man. I’m really happy he’s getting this opportunity and I know there are a lot of people queuing up to get that opportunity too. Does he deserve the chance? [to interview]? I certainly think so. He has paid his dues. It’s interesting because he grew up a bit in that division.”
Eliot Wolf, 39, never worked for his father, who retired in 2001. Eliot spent 13 years in Packers’ human resources department, the last two as director of football operations in 2016/17. Since losing to Gutekunst, he was the Browns assistant GM under John Dorsey – a protege of Ron Wolf – and has been with the Patriots for the past two seasons.
Being part of Ron Wolf’s family tree is no guarantee, but for what it’s worth, Ron Wolf’s professional family tree has been quite productive. As GM of the Packers, Wolf hired Ted Thompson, who drafted Aaron Rodgers; John Schneider, the current GM of Seahawks who drafted Russell Wilson; Gutekunst, who hired Matt LaFleur; Dorsey, the former Chiefs GM who drafted Patrick Mahomes; and Reggie McKenzie, the former Raiders GM who drafted Derek Carr.
“I can only go on and on about what people who have worked with him have told me,” said Ron Wolf, “people who have had success in the game and who are very highly regarded. He has had some great teachers: Ted Thompson , Reggie McKenzie, John Schneider – those are three that are pretty good.”
When Eliot Wolf was hired in Cleveland, the Browns were coming out of a 0-16 season. He left after Dorsey was fired in 2019 but he helped acquire the talent who went 11-5 and made it to the play-offs in 2020.
“He has a tremendous amount of respect for the game and for the guys who played the game,” said Ron Wolf. “He knows just about everything about everyone in the game. All those things are helpful.”
2. Speaking of Hall of Fame executives, While Bill Polian’s main job is to find a CEO, his impact on the coaching quest already seems like an upgrade from Ryan Pace’s search for a successor to John Fox in 2018.
The list of reported interviews includes five former head coaches: Doug Pederson, Leslie Frazier, Todd Bowles, Dan Quinn and Brian Flores. And two hot coordinators in Byron Leftwich and Brian Daboll.
In 2018, the Bears interviewed Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and the Offensive Coordinator of the Chiefs Matt Nagy.
3. The 1992 resignation of Mike Ditka is a dividing line between Halas and McCaskey’s control of the Bears. Ditka — handpicked by George Halas to become Bears coach in 1982 — was the last major part of the organization to have ties to Halas after general manager Jim Finks left of his own accord in 1983 and fired his successor, Jerry Vainisi. after the 1986 season.
In 29 seasons of the McCaskey family, the Bears are 217-248 (.467) – 21st in the NFL in that span. They have made seven playoff appearances — in that span for 24th in the NFL. They have four playoff wins — ranked 26th in the NFL in that span. And zero Super Bowls — in that span for 16th in the NFL.
4. Hire a coach for a CEO would undermine the new GM from the start – unless the Bears stole Sean Payton from the Saints, or someone of his stature. Another possible exception is Jim Harbaugh, who controls the meatball box as a former Bears player and played for Mike Ditka, but also has a great resume, including direct impact on the 49ers.
And with Vic Fangio available after being fired by the Broncos, a Harbaugh-Fangio package that worked so well with the 49ers would be tempting for the Bears.
George McCaskey argued against the idea that he mainly hires people like himself – nice guys who get along and work together. “We don’t want anyone to always agree,” he said. “We want a vigorous debate.”
Hiring Harbaugh, who marches to his own strange drummer, would prove he means it.
5. When Bill Polian Was Hired By The Colts in 1997, one of his first moves was to trade Harbaugh. It wasn’t a reflection on Harbaugh. The Colts had the #1 pick in the 1998 draft and knew they would have a rookie starter in Peyton Manning of Tennessee or Ryan Leaf of Washington State.
Polian actually did Harbaugh a favor by reuniting him with Ted Marchibroda, under whom he had a Hail Mary near miss from the Super Bowl in 1996. And instead of waiting until June 1 to save room for the salary cap, he traded Harbaugh in February to give him time to get used to his new team.
6. The Bears Organization’s Inability to Communicate and managing public relations is one of the most glaring aspects of the dysfunction in Halas Hall. Chairman George McCaskey gave another example at Monday’s press conference when he addressed the “Fire Nagy” chants at Nagy’s son’s son’s Lake Forest High School playoff game, which Nagy himself attended.
That happened on November 20 and became a story on November 23. George’s anger would have been much more impactful if he’d dealt with it then. Instead, it was just another awkward part of the stern press conference announcing Nagy and Pace’s resignation.
7. What happened to Tarik Cohen? Cohen’s knee injury could remain a mystery if the running back isn’t part of the new regime’s plans. Cohen surprisingly missed the entire 2021 season after sustaining the injury in week 3 of the 2020 season.
The irony of Cohen’s injury typified the star-crossed nature of the Bears’ offensive failure under Nagy. He suffered it on a game designed to avoid injury – a fair catch. But the aftermath was even more typical of the Nagy era—with Cohen never looking close to returning and Nagy fidgeting every question about a setback or complication at rehab.
8. Is there a Halas Hall curse? It was a rough weekend for current and former residents of 1920 Football Drive. In addition to Nagy and Pace, Fangio was fired by the Broncos and former director of pro-personnel Rick Spielman was fired as GM of the Vikings. And Brandon Staley’s Chargers and Chris Ballard’s Colts were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Dave Toub happily rolls on as the Chiefs’ special teams coordinator. That’s a coach that deserves a closer look.
9. Josh McCown Ex-Bears Player of the Year: Credit Nagy for trying to capitalize on Cordarrelle Patterson’s versatility in 2019-20 after the Patriots’ role opened that door in 2018. But the Falcons fared much better in 2021.
Patterson totaled 1,166 yards and scored 11 touchdowns for the Falcons—with 153 rushes for 618 yards (4.0 average) and six touchdowns and 52 receptions for 548 yards (10.5) and five touchdowns.
In fact, Patterson averaged 72.9 yards per game with the Falcons — more than four times his 17.2 per game average with the Bears.
10. Bear Gauge: 10-7 — vs Washington (W); versus dolphins (W); at Lions (W); at Giants (W); vs. Texans (W); at Packers (L); vs 49ers (L); vs. Vikings (W); at Falcons (W); versus bills (L); at Cowboys (L); versus eagles (L); at Patriots (L); at Jets (W); versus lions (W); at Vikings (L); vs. packers (W). Playoffs: in Dallas (W); at Rams (L).
Note: These are the opponents of Bears 2022. The order of the games has not been announced.