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Bears resort to double-speak in wake of minimal changes

Brad Palmer

Covered sports for 40 years at WGN, WBBM Newradio 78, and WLS-TV (CH 7)

Michael McCaskey once wrote a book entitled "Managing Change and Ambiguity. There was certainly a lot of that going on at today's lengthy news conference at Halas Halas, although Michael continued to stay above the fray and leave the bobing and weaving to Ted Phillips, Jerry Angelo, and Lovie Smith. Afterall, they're paid to take the heat.

Phillips said Angelo had the "final say" on personnel decisions and Lovie the "final say" on his coaching staff. But he also said that both men understood and embraced some of the changes and that the discussions included ownership, namely Michael and Virginia McCaskey. So obviously the changes weren't Lovie's alone to make and Angelo inadvertently confirmed that. Asked if it was Lovie's call, Angelo ducked the question, saying "he and Lovie discuss everything and don't always agree."

Angelo said he asked ownership if they wanted to hire one of the big name coaches on the market. They didn't. Phillips said money wasn't a factor. It may not have been THE factor, but I find it hard to believe it wasn't A factor.

The changes amounted to the firing of 6 offensive coaches, including offensive coordinator Ron Turner, and Lovie giving up his defensive coordinator duties. Lovie said he thought it was "best" that he take on that added responsibility and now thinks it "best" that he doesn't. He now thinks it best that they get someone to bring in new ideas. Of course, that's what he once had in Ron Rivera. Ron did a terrific job turning around the Bears defense, only be let go along with a growing list of players who achieved success elsewhere.

Angelo promised to be "a little bit better at our evaluations." He admitted he didn't do a good job evaluating the players on his team, but then added, "it's hard to self-evaluate." Huh? I suppose that explains why the Bears have a penchant for starting players based on draft position or salary, rather than competition. Putting Cedric Benson ahead of Thomas Jones is a classic example. Greg Olsen replacing Desmond Clark is another. Neither one had to earn his spot. The Bears didn't even need to draft Benson. They had an excellent all-purpose back in Thomas Jones, but I guess that goes back to the ability to self-evaluate.

Angelo said he felt they "had a good plan coming into the season, but it didn't work. Looking back, there isn't anything I would have changed." In otherwords, don't pin me down to any specifics. As for moving Devin Hester to a full-time receiver, he said, "I don't think that was a mistake. He said it was hard to be a prolific return man over a career. But Hester was the best of the best and a big factor in the Bears reaching the Super Bowl. The Bears wore him out by having him run all those deep pass routes after letting Bernard Berrian go. Letting Justin Gage go was another mistake, but then the Bears hardly used him.

When Lovie was questioned about the poor performance of his defense on third down (27th in the NFL), he said, "We had one bad year on third down. The stats have shown we are one of the top 5 teams on third down, except this year." WRONG!

The Bears ranked 26th in 2008. They ranked dead last in 2003. Lovie came on in in 2004 and, with Ron Rivera as his defensive coordinator, the Bears jumped to #1 in that stat and ranked 2nd in 2005 and 2006, Rivera's last year. The Bears defense had its best years under Rivera in 2005-06. The defense ranked 2nd an 5th in yards allowed and 1st and 3rd in points allowed. Since his departure, the Bears have ranked no higher than 17th in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed.

Ted Phillips stated the obvious when he said, "We need to do a better job drafting,a better job in personnel acquistion, and a better job coaching, and that we'll get done. I'm confident." How? By relying on the people who created the problem to suddenly fix it? I think not.

Fasten your seat belts Bears fans, we're in for another bumpy ride.




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BillW said:


Well said, Brad. It's so tranparent - so frustrating. I really feel bad for the media that has to cover these things and keep their mouths shut. A congressman can shout "Liar" to the President of the United States, but I'm sure if a reporter did that today they would be banned.

However - the "bright" side is that there are literally no more excuses for this crew. This year it's all about the three of them, period.

I truly hope that privately Lovie was taken to task for his bad decisions in coaches and playing time. Reading between the lines, do you think that's what Angelo was saying?

Brad Palmer said:


I don't know that Angelo tipped his hand on Lovie's future. But it stands to reason that if Lovie doesn't deliver next year, he'll be out. I don't see the Bears going into the 2011 season with a lame duck coach, provided there is a season. But I could be wrong.

Angelo has to be walking on thin ice as well. He and Lovie both sold ownership on the premise that maintaining continuity gave the Bears the best chance to have a winning season in 2010 as opposed to a complete makeover. That's about the only case they could make. I think next year is make-or-break for Lovie and probably Angelo, as well. We're talking about an organization that lives and dies by the "Peter Principle." Put another way, it's FUBAR.

StarkyLuv said:

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I just hate how all through Lovie's tenure, it's always the other coach's and coordinator's fault, and they get fired.

I hate how he anoints people starters that haven't earned it. You forgot how he benched Orton in 2005 after going 10-5 and put Grossman in the last game and the playoffs. What did Grossman DO to earn that job. And what the hell did Devin Hester do to earn the starting WR spot? They had Devin Aromashadu, easily their best receiver and arguable their best offensive player wasting away on the bench all season!

Why is Lovie Smith still the coach? What has he done to EARN it?

Brad Palmer said:


Only the McCaskeys know the real reason for not giving Lovie the pink slip. They say it was to maintain continuity. They couldn't very well admit it was the money. It is their money and they have the only opinions that count. They know it's not a popular decision, but they have thick skins when it comes to criticsm. It might be different if they had empty seats to fill, but they don't.

IrishSweetness said:


And Brandon Rideau was probably better than DA ... taller too.

StarkyLuv said:

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I don't know about Rideau, but DA was the best WR all through preseason. But Lovie never, NEVER judges players by what they do on the field. It's all about where you were drafted and how much money you make.

The only reason THE BEST WR ON THE TEAM even played this season is because Hester got hurt. Think about that for a second...

winstonchill29 said:


Seeing Jerry Angelo standing in front of the press telling the world that he's making changes and focused on making the Bears a contender again is like a fox standing in front of the hen house telling the chicken's "don't worry, it's okay, we've found the culprit who's been killing the chickens and he's gone now, everything's gonna be okay....Trust me! ;)

Brad Palmer said:


That's a good analogy. How about the Captain of the Titanic saying, "We found the leak, everything's going to be all right."

winstonchill29 said:


Brad, what is your feeling regarding the last 2 games of the season? Do you think the Bears would be looking for a new head coach had the Bears been beaten those last two games? I believe they would be, which irks me even more, because it just shows how McCaskey INC and the puppets under their reign have such short term thinking. No accountability!

Brad Palmer said:


As I wrote in my previous post, following the Detroit game, the two victories gave the McCaskeys OUT they were no doubt hoping for. Had the Bears lost those games, I think they would have been compelled to make a coaching change. Angelo said the last two games certainly helped in his evaluation of Lovie.

They didn't change anything to my way of thinking. I picked the Bears to win both games, knowing Minnesota is no better than the Bears on a grass field, and that Detroit is...well...Detroit. The Lions would have tied that game late in the fourth quarter had Culpepper not overthrown a wide open receiver in the end zone. Earlier, the Lions gave the Bears a touchdown will an ill-advised fake punt from their own 38.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Lovie should consider himself lucky.

winstonchill29 said:


Jerry Angelo: "We're not going to work any harder than we have been in the past" ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? How many people can stand before there boss and get away with that??? I think Virginia was cleaning her teeth when her "GM" mentioned that! What a travesty. Hey, here's a thought.... Let's pretend Lovie got fired and Dave McGinnis got the job! Mike McCaskey and gang managed to pull that off before, why can't we???

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