George McCaskey is a believer in the Chicago Bears’ direction.
After hearing from Ryan Pace and John Fox over the last couple days, the assembled media in Phoenix covering the NFL owners meetings caught up with the Bears chairman. McCaskey dished on a number of topics including Fox and Pace’s job secruity, building through the draft, the awkwardness of raising ticket prices after a losing season, and more.
Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune and Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times led the way with their coverage of McCaskey’s state of the team comments. You can read Wiederer’s piece here and Finley’s here to get a full grasp of what’s on the McCaskey’s mind.
With the Bears’ chairman speaking on Wednesday, the three most important figures (save for matriarch Virginia McCaskey) have spoken to the media at the NFL owners meetings.
Here is the latest …
- If you were looking for fire and brimstone out of the chairman, my apologies in advance. Instead, a reserved George McCaskey had big picture progress on his mind. He wants to see improvement in the win column (don’t we all?), but understands the process. Further, he isn’t sweating the small stuff, adding “We’re not on any particular timetable that somebody else is wanting to set for us. We’re wanting to see continued progress toward our goal of sustained success. … But there isn’t any sort of particular threshold.”
- With that in mind, it sounds as if GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox have some semblance of job security. We’ll see how long it lasts.
- Moving on, McCaskey falls in line with Pace’s vision of building through the draft. McCaskey sees progress, especially after a 2016 season in which three players (running back Jordan Howard, center Cody Whitehair and edge defender Leonard Floyd) each earned Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team honors. If the Bears continue to stockpile quality young players in the draft, their free agent needs won’t be as plentiful as they were in this offseason. McCaskey adds, “I told Ryan he should get ripped this time of year, every year, for not being more active in free agency. And that’s because we’re developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys.”
- Drafting, developing, and rewarding your own players can serve as a building block for sustained success. HOWEVER, the Bears were leading football in free agent signings this offseason after signing Mark Sanchez. That’s not quite the long-term vision for team building. This means the Bears really need to double down on knocking it out of the park with this draft – or look risk looking hypocritical next offseason when the team is hoarding free agent depth pieces.
- NFL owners gave the OK for the shares held by the children of Mugs Halas to be sold to the team. As expected, this doesn’t move the needle. “The big thing is that the majority ownership is going to remain in the family,” McCaskey said. “This was a small transaction. As we’ve said many times, we have every intention of continuing to own the Bears.”
- The Bears ruffled some feathers this offseason when the team announced it was raising ticket prices. McCaskey addressed those concerns on Wednesday, saying he doesn’t know that there’s ever a good time to raise ticket prices (because, you know, doing so after consecutive losing seasons under a new coach wasn’t great for optics), but offers that the price hike was a function of Soldier Field’s smallish capacity. The only stadiums with a smaller seating capacity than Soldier Field in 2017 will be the Coliseum in Oakland and the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., which will be the temporary home of the Los Angeles Chargers. But when the new stadiums are built for the Raiders in Las Vegas and the Chargers (and Rams) in the Los Angeles area, Chicago’s Soldier Field will feature the smallest seating capacity in the NFL.
- In other news that was to be expected, the Bears are still avoiding an appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” television show:
George McCaskey is still adamant that he doesn't want the #Bears to do 'Hard Knocks.' League can force them. He hopes it won't.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) March 29, 2017