Facing the most monumental task in his 11 years as the Bears’ chairman, George McCaskey refused to detail exactly what traits he envisioned in a new head coach and general manager. It didn’t matter whether the coach was an expert in offense or defense, McCaskey said. He didn’t need to be beloved by his players, as long as he was respected.
There was one thing, however, that was not negotiable.
‘‘The primary quality we’ll be looking for in both the general manager and the head coach is leadership,’’ McCaskey said.
On Tuesday, McCaskey hired Ryan Poles, a 36-year-old first-time GM. After interviewing three finalists, Poles picked his head coach Thursday: Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. The 51-year-old never has been a head coach at any level.
That’s not to say Eberflus can’t be the face of the franchise for years. Or that, behind the scenes, Poles can’t set the tone at Halas Hall for the next decade. Because neither has led a team before, however, it’s all projection — McCaskey’s projection.
The Bears have made these leadership projections constantly for a half century. In the Super Bowl era, John Fox is the only man they hired who had previous NFL head-coaching experience. Eberflus and Poles, however, are the first head coach/GM tandem in franchise history who are rookies at the same time. That ups the degree of difficulty for both men — and the amount of faith one must have in McCaskey to think it will work.