LAKE FOREST – It’s been nearly two weeks since the Bears decided to make a change at the general manager and head coaching position, and like most of the teams in the league looking to replace those positions, they still haven’t been filled.
So interviews will continue into a second weekend for the Bears, with the team completing four interviews the last two days before reaching that point. They announced that they spoke Reggie McKenzie (GM) and Byron Leftwich (HC) on Thursday while talking with Ryan Poles (GM) along with Leslie Frazier (HC) on Friday.
McKenzie has been with the Dolphins for the past three seasons as a senior personnel executive for the franchise which followed a seven-season run as the general manager of the Oakland Raiders from 2012-2018. Bears fans might be familiar with him since he was the one that pulled off the Khalil Mack trade in September of 2018 with then Chicago general manager Ryan Pace.
Before that, McKenzie had a long run with the Green Bay Packers from 1994-2011 as he worked with the franchise as they produced two Super Bowl Championships (1996, 2010). In his final four years with the team, he was the director of football operations.
A ten-year veteran of the NFL who played quarterback for four different teams, Leftwich is considered one of the bright young coaches in the game. He began his coaching career as an intern in 2016 with the Cardinals under head coach Bruce Arians and was named the quarterback’s coach for the team in 2017.
Even after Arians was fired, Leftwich remained on the Arizona staff under new head coach Steve Wilks and even took over as offensive coordinator midway through the 2018 season when Mike McCoy was fired.
Leftwich then moved onto the Buccaneers after Wilks was fired after one season and reunited with Arians, who took over in Tampa Bay. In his first season of 2019, the offense was ranked third in points and third in yardage and hasn’t slipped since with Tom Brady joining the team in 2020.
In their Super Bowl championship season of 2020, the Buccaneers were third in scoring offense and seventh in yardage as they captured the franchise’s second title. Leftwich’s offense ranked second in points in the 2021 regular season and second in yardages as Tampa Bay earned a second seed in the NFC Playoffs.
They put up 31 points in a win over the Eagles in their NFC Wild Card game against the Eagles on Sunday.
Frazier has many local connections, starting with his time as a player for the Bears from 1981-1985, and was the starting cornerback for the Super Bowl XX champions on their famed defense. He started his career at the University of Illinois as a defensive backs coach in 1997 and 1998 under head coach Ron Turner then took his first NFL job with the Eagles in 1999 (defensive backs coach).
Since breaking into the league, Frazier has been there ever since, coaching for six different teams since that first season. He was the head coach of the Vikings from the middle of the 2010 season through 2013, finishing 21-32-1 record with one playoff appearance before being fired.
Since 2017, Frazier has been the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Bills under Sean McDermott and had been a part of that team’s return to relevance in the AFC. Buffalo’s defense has been especially strong the last two seasons as the team has won back-to-back AFC East championships, finishing each season in the Top Five in points and yardage allowed.
The Bills defeated the Patriots 47-17 in their AFC Wild Card playoff game on Saturday.
Poles has been in the Chiefs organization since 2009 as he’s served in a number of roles during his 13 years in Kansas City. He took over as the executive director of player personnel just this season after serving as the assistant director for the previous three seasons.
His claim to fame is being the director of college scouting for the team in 2017 when they selected four-time Pro Bowl and 2018 MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.