I've been a Jerry Angelo fan. Ive been called an Angelo apologist among other things. When he came in, he made Dick Jauron earn his job and he responded by leading the Bears to a 13-3 record in 2001. When he didn't live up to his expectations, Angelo canned him. He brought in Lovie Smith to replace Jauron, whom he had ties with at Tampa Bay and installed the Tampa 2.
I'm also a Lovie Smith fan from the moment of his introductory press conference, through the under-achieving seasons after the Super Bowl to now. He set forth three goals when he was hired -- beat the Packers, win the division and win the Super Bowl. To accomplish these goals, he stressed the importance of winning the three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams). It was a simple philosophy but emphasized the importance of a complete effort.
He also realized the importance of being a part of the charter franchise of the league and for the city. He understood the importance of the 4th Phase. For everything Smith has stood for, he has never really been embraced by fans.
Now, with Jay Cutler out for (at least)) the entire season the Bears will have to rely on complete efforts from all three phases, including the 4th Phase. Smith is confident that Cutler will be back before the regular season finale but some experts think a full recovery by Cutler will take at least 8 weeks.
Angelo and Smith face their most challenging obstacle of their careers with the Bears. This is arguably the most talented Bears team in the last decade and the Bears are in a position to secure a playoff spot and the possibility of missing the offseason would be devastating.
They've held steady on their personnel decisions and have believed in the depth of roster despite the criticism.
Critics bashed Angelo for not doing enough to strengthen the offensive line. Angelo has emphatically said they did the very best they could. Now with Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams out for the season, the depth will be tested and we'll see if the Bears do have enough at the position. They will now be responsible for protecting the relatively inexperienced Caleb Hanie.
While fans wanted the front office to upgrade the wide receiver position by bringing a "true" number one receiver, Angelo and Smith expressed their confidence in the group's progression.
The 4th Phase will now have to believe in Angelo and Smith because before Cutler's injury, many believed the Bears could make a serious run at the NFC title. With a favorable schedule and the hopes of Cutler returning, fans are still confident... but first things first, they have to make the playoffs and that could mean winning four out their last six games.