Perception becomes reality in the NFL almost overnight.
Hue Jackson, the quarterbacks coach of a Baltimore Ravens team that could barely throw a pass in the postseason, chose to become the offensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders. He chose the unenviable task of tutoring JaMarcus Russell - the worst professional quarterback I've ever seen - and will receive a three-year deal and an enviable sum to do so.
If you ask Rick Morrissey, he made a choice:
Hue Jackson picked those Raiders over your Chicago Bears. He took
the job as Oakland's offensive coordinator before the outfit in Lake
Forest even had a chance to interview him.
How low can the Bears go?
Now Morrissey, on the surface, is correct. Jackson canceled an opportunity to interview with the Bears and chose the Raiders' gig. But does any knowledgeable football fan think the Bears were even in the running? (1) Al Davis made it clear that he was bringing in a coach to salvage the fading career of JaMarcus. (2) He subsequently signed Hue to a three-year contract for a boatload of money - something the Bears were simply not equipped to do. This is not a choice. This is the difference between hired for a second-rate Broadway gig at $1500 a week (Oakland) or being asked to come in and audition for sure-to-be hit (Chicago). Ask an actor which they'd prefer.
But the perception, like that of Morrissey and ESPN, is becoming an NFL reality. The Chicago Bears are the geeky kid going locker-to-locker looking for a prom date. And ultimately they will settle for someone uninspiring, on both sides of the ball, and leave us to wonder what the 2010 season will bring.
This is why I argued that firing Ron Turner was a senseless act if you decide to leave the head coach in place. This is why I argued that removing the defensive play-calling duties from Lovie Smith but allowing him to continue his misusage of time outs and challenge flags was counter productive. There isn't a promising young coach alive who'd like to step into a situation that could set his career back three years.
But remember, the Bears know better than us. Don't believe me? Just ask them. They were the ones that told us that coaches around the country would be lined up outside Halas Hall, CVs in hand, desperate for the opportunity to be part of this franchise. Their perception of themselves might help them get out of bed in the morning. It simply doesn't match the reality.