Bears’ Shake-Up Starts With New GM
Amidst a heart-breaking collapse in the second half of the season, the Bears have started preparing themselves for what could be a make or break year in 2012. Over the years fans have not been shy about letting their thoughts known regarding team management and personnel. We all remember the John Shoop days; they went on far too long. Jerry Angelo was involved in the hiring and firing (or delay in firing) of many of the names that have made Bears fans cringe over the last 10 years, including several of the 15 quarterbacks that have started a game for us in that time span.
Some fans are even beginning to call for the head of our very calm and collected leader, Lovie Smith. Whether you like it or not our head coach is safe for now. Jerry Angelo and Mike Martz have been thrown into the fire. The question now is how long will they feed the flames, and who if anyone will share their fate in the future?
The announcement of Jerry Angelo’s departure came two days after the Bears failed to make the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz resigned soon after, stating “philosophical differences” as his reason. The shuffle of office personnel does not come as a complete surprise. Several of the Bears’ draft picks over the last few years have failed to make the desired impact, specifically those taken in the first round. Since 2001 only Chris Williams and last year’s pick Gabe Carimi are still on the team (but on injured reserve). In fact, Cedric Benson and Greg Olsen, who were selected in 05′ and 07′ by the Bears, are the only players that still make an impact on other teams in the NFL. All other Bears first round picks have fallen by the wayside.
The tension in the locker room this year could be felt by the fans on the field as well. Contract issues, injuries, team chemistry, and consistency were all major factors all season long. Would a smart GM really let issues like that linger all season? Couldn’t they at least address the issue even if it wasn’t the desired answer? You would also think the coaches would figure out a way to subdue the distraction in the locker room. Clearly not everyone was on the same page this season, and even when the going got good there was still a sense of discomfort. A perfect example would be the Cutler-Martz incident where Jay was heard cursing at his coordinator while playing against the Vikings in October. The Bears were up 26-3 at the time and were looking like a complete team for the first time all season. We can also look at the lingering contracts of Matt Forte and Lance Briggs, two players that deserve the money that they are asking for, but not in the eyes of the front office.
A tweet by former tight end Dez Clark this Tuesday gives us a small indication of what was happening behind the scenes of Halas Hall.
“Egos and head butting led to the departures of Jerry Angelo and Mike Martz. Not a good situation the last two years. Awful environment to work in.”
Perhaps these changes have come at a perfect time.
Health and Happiness
Club President Ted Phillips, with the support of the McCaskeys, will now begin the search for a new general manager, and Phillips has stated that he has a few candidates in mind. Phillips’ terms to the new candidate is that they will be keeping Lovie Smith as head coach in 2012, that’s it.
“Ultimately I’d like to bring in someone who understands Lovie’s philosophy,” Phillips told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.
Phillips also referenced poor production from draft selections and the differential in talent among division rivals as an indicator for the direction the Bears want to go in the future. A fresh start and a general manager who is willing to be fair with players, as well as a renewed focus on talent, will be a great start for a Bears team that is on the brink of a Super Bowl if they can stay healthy. With Forte, Cutler, Carimi, Williams, and Urlacher all coming back healthy and ready to go next year, the Bears should be poised for another strong run in 2012. We have the 19th overall pick in next years draft. Who will be making the decision when the time comes? Here are a few possibilities:
- Most sought after candidate among four teams that are looking
- Ravens personnel director credited for being driving force behind Baltimore’s successful drafts
- Has turned away positions before, comfortable in Baltimore
- Packers director of football operations, also highly sought after among teams in need
- Was assistant coach with Lovie Smith at University of Tennessee
- Current director of Bears personnel
- Considered a long shot (team wants to hire from the outside)
- Familiar with Bears, different management style than Angelo
- Interviewed at same time as Angelo for Bears position in 01′ before being signed by Broncos
- Drafted Jay Cutler before leaving Broncos in 2008
- Considered a great salary cap manager and very analytical
- Current GM of Indianapolis Colts
- Father is close to McCaskeys, has advised them on several issues over years
Photo Source: ChicagoTribune.com