First, let me mention that I lived through and witnessed the Neill Armstrong era, the end of Mike Ditka, the Wannstedt and Jauron fiascos, the “mutual parting of the ways” of Mark Hatley and the Bears, and the bungled search that resulted in the hiring of Lovie Smith. Saying that, I can almost say that I can’t remember seeing the Bears in quite as much chaos as they are in now. And that’s hard to believe.
Possibly when Mom Virginia fired son Michael, that was pretty chaotic. That move landed the family a new stadium with new revenues, but didn’t necessarily significantly change the fortuntes of the team. Yes, I’m not forgetting they did go to the Super Bowl (and lose it), but as I’ve mentioned before here the Bears are good for quickly turning their fortunes in reverse whenever they do find themselves making the playoffs consistently.
The moral of this close-to-Christmas story is that unfortunately, as much as all of us are looking for drastic changes with the Bears, let’s remember to be careful what we wish for.
Personally, I would like to see something happen that I’m very confident will not happen. I have no confidence in Jerry Angelo being able to draft and acquire the talent that’s going to be required to completely rebuild this team. Angelo, if we’ll remember all the way back to last weekend, says that good young talent is in place for the Bears to win. Please let that sit on your mind for a minute and consider that statement. To Angelo, Al Afalava, Kevin Payne and Zack Bowman are good enough DB’s to win. An over the hill and unmotivated Tommie Harris, Mark Anderson, and Gaines Adams are powerful defensive linemen. Orlando Pace, Chris Williams, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza and Frank Omiyale are the solution at offensive line. Do you trust what Jerry says?
So now it looks like Jerry just might be throwing Lovie and his staff under the bus. So let’s say he and the family do fire the whole coaching staff and start fresh. We all do remember the last time Angelo struck out to hire a new coach and staff, right? He bumbled through a cross-country tour. His desired coach (Nick Saban) turned him down almost immediately because he wouldn’t cede or share personnel power. It was then reported that he asked Jeff Tedford (Cal) and Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) the opportunity to interview and they said “no thanks”. Angelo was then left to interview virtually the last two candidates standing, Smith and Russ Grimm. At least Smith was able to explain to the media what his plans for the team would be, Grimm’s only answer seemed to be that he’s a “meat and potatoes guy.”
Be very wary if Angelo sets out to hire a replacement for Smith. In all liklihood, that replacement will be an NFL assistant, a college coach or a college assistant for all we know. No way is Angelo hiring Bill Cowher, unless miraculously the McCaskeys demand for him to do so. And if that is the case, Angelo will probably walk.
The likely scenario here is if Angelo does fire Lovie and staff, he’ll be looking to replace them with a staff that will command the least money possible, since the family will be paying Smith and his staff for another two years. Can we be hopeful that Angelo will catch lightning in a bottle and find a diamond in the rough? And that he will turn around his personnel acquisition skills quickly and rebuild the team successfully? Sure, we can hope for that. How many of you are confident in it, though?
So I say again as I did in December of 2003. Don’t fire Smith for the sake of firing him, if Angelo isn’t damn sure he knows exactly the right coach to replace him. Do I want to see Smith and his incompetent cronies gone? Hell yes. But keeping Smith only equals maximum two more years of abysmal Bears football. After that, both Angelo and Smith can be gone at the same time. But if Angelo hires the wrong new (cheap) coach and staff for four years, what does that solve?
Talk to you all again on Monday. Happy Holidays.