Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips fired 11-year general manager Jerry Angelo yesterday morning. It will be Phillips' duty to find the new man to lead the organization, with input from coach Lovie Smith. Phillips did not lay out any specific timetable for the search, yet said it could be a month or more.
Here are the top candidates for the job.
Ruskell was hired this past offseason as personnel director for the Bears, after five seasons as GM of the Seattle Seahawks. Many assumed that Ruskell was being groomed as Angelo's replacement but that doesn't appear to be the case. Phillips said yesterday that Ruskell is a candidate but word out of Halas is the team is likely to go elsewhere. Ruskell and Angelo had strong ties dating back to their time together decades ago in Tampa Bay. Their philosophies appear too similar for Ruskell to be considered an improvement.
Reggie McKenzie, Packers director of football operations
McKenzie was interviewed today for the vacant GM position in Oakland. He's been a candidate for other recent openings, so he's in high demand. He's a former player who has been a member of Green Bay's personnel department for 18 years. Under his watch, the Packers have developed a perennial contender. Phillips said twice yesterday that the Bears' search could drag into February, but it appears if he wants McKenzie, he's going to have to act fast.
John Dorsey, Packers director of college scouting
Dorsey has been running Green Bay's drafts since 2000. The team doesn't typically spend big in free agency. Instead, they've relied on Dorsey to load their roster with talent through the draft. His keen eye for talent at the college level has created the deepest roster in the league. Angelo struggled in the draft; Dorsey excels in it.
Marc Ross, Giants director of college scouting
Ross is a fresh-faced young executive that is only 38 years old. A former Ivy League wide receiver at Princeton, Ross is believed by many around the league to have the brightest future as a first-time general manager.
Eric DeCosta, Ravens director of player personnel
DeCosta is another relative youngster (40) who started with the Ravens in 1996 at an entry-level position. He has since soared through the ranks and was promoted to his current post in 2009. He oversees both the college and pro scouting departments in Baltimore. Yet the Ravens think very highly of DeCosta and according to sources, "treat him very well." DeCosta's wife is also from the Baltimore area, making it even more unlikely he'll leave the organization.
Polian and his son Chris were fired after a dismal 2-14 season in Indianapolis. Yet Polian's track record is highly impressive. He first served as an NFL general manager with the Buffalo Bills from 1986-1993. He molded a then 2-14 team into a club that made three straight Super Bowl appearances under his direction. He then moved on to the Carolina Panthers, where he developed an expansion roster that reached the NFC Championship in only the club's second year of existence. Indianapolis was next, where he led the Colts to seven AFC South crowns and a Super Bowl title. Yet any team that wants Bill will likely need to hire Chris as well, who is nowhere near as highly regarded around the league as his father. Polian would also likely want to clean house, which wont' be possible with Smith entrenched at head coach.
Will Lewis, Seahawks vice president of football operations
Lewis has been a member of Seattle's front office since 1999, following three years as a scout for Green Bay. He has been molded under Mike Holmgren. The two worked together with both the Packers and Seahawks.
Les Snead, Falcons director of player personnel
Snead, another young executive (38) has spent the past 13 years in Atlanta's personnel department, including the past three in his current role. He oversees both college and pro scouting.
Jason Licht, Patriots director of pro personnel
At only 40 years old, Licht already has 17 years experience in the NFL, mostly with New England. His history is mainly with pro personnel, with limited work on the college scouting side.
Dorsey's body of work in Green Bay speaks for itself. The Bears need a person with an experienced track record of quality drafts. Dorsey has that in spades.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.