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George McCaskey: Bears’ rebuild not tied to any outside timetable

Bears chairman George McCaskey met with media Wednesday at the conclusion of the NFL owners’ meetings. He discussed a range of topics, including patience with the general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox, new quarterback Mike Glennon and raising ticket prices. Here are some highlights:

On why he has confidence the Bears will rebound well from their 3-13 season

We have confidence in Ryan and John. We want to build through the draft. Ryan said that in his interview when he said he was interested in coming to the Bears, and we like how he’s stuck to that plan. We saw it last year when we had three rookies on the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team: Cody Whitehair, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Howard. And that’s what we need to keep doing—keep building through the draft. 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.

On outside speculation about Pace’s and Fox’s job security entering Year 3 with only nine wins

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.

On what he believes Pace has accomplished since taking over

We like him. We haven’t had the results that we wanted, obviously. Everyone is disappointed in that. Ryan’s disappointed. John’s disappointed. But I’ve been very impressed with him as a leader, as an evaluator of talent. And one of the things I’ve been most impressed by with him is the discipline he’s shown just as recently as this free agency period. He didn’t want to overpay guys. Too often, I think, you overpay guys who don’t come through for you, and then you have a big hole in your salary cap and you’re behind the 8-ball. So I like the discipline he has shown, the restraint he has shown in free agency.

On what the term ‘face of the franchise’ means to him and whether the Bears have a void there

I think leaders emerge. Kyle Long has that capability, just to name one. But we need players that the fans can rally behind, and with John and Ryan I think we’re going to do that.

On ‘face of the franchise’ in the context of a new search for a quarterback

Mike Glennon is our acquisition in free agency, along with Mark Sanchez. We signed Connor Shaw. And we’ll see what happens in the draft as far as that position is concerned. But Ryan has been very impressed with Mike looking at the tape. Big, strong, tough, a good leader, keeps the turnovers down and can move the team down the field and win for you.

On raising ticket prices after a 3-13 season

I don’t know that there’s ever a good time to raise ticket prices, but that’s partly a function of our small capacity. We’re one of the smallest, if not the smallest, stadiums in the NFL. We try to keep the expense down as much as possible, as witnessed by two years in which we didn’t raise prices. Sometimes it just becomes necessary. You try to be reasonable about it. You try to explain the reasons for it to people and hope they continue to support you. Bears fans have been just unbelievably supportive through thick and thin over decades, and I had a chance to see that first-hand in 20 years in the ticket office. It’s something we don’t take lightly. We celebrate it and do everything we can to hold on to that.

On whether questions about increasing Soldier Field’s capacity will begin to intensify

It’s a challenge to the people in our sponsorship department, and they do a great job. We need the revenues in order to stay competitive. But every team in every market has challenges of one sort or another. You just do the best you can, get the best people you can.

On his assertion that, in general, the fourth generation of family businesses are ‘key’

In classic family business situations, when it gets down a few generations and the ownership is diluted and in some cases the interest is correspondingly diluted, that’s when family businesses are the most challenged. We want to meet that challenge by making sure that family members understand George Halas’ legacy and are as interested as we are in continuing that legacy. We’ve been given every indication that it is resoundingly the case.

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