Jerry Angelo Fired: Bears GM Had It Coming

Jerry Angelo Fired: Bears GM Had It Coming
Jerry Angelo refused to listen to bringing in a reliable backup QB.

Jerry Angelo came to the Bears before the 2001 season full of promise after his success as Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Director of Player Personnel. Recent draft mistakes, such as drafting the oft injured Chris Williams, never allowed the Bears to shore up their offensive line to protect Jay Cutler from being sacked at the highest clip in the National Football League.

Not only did Angelo fail to bring in an adequate offensive line help via draft or free agency to protect its star quarterback, the fallen GM was woefully inept at supplying a reliable backup quarterback to Cutler. Late in the 2010 season Angelo brought in Todd Collins, the oldest quarterback in football at the time off the street as backup quarterback. Eventually the entire nation watched Collins fail miserably in last season's NFC Championship Game against Bears' rival Green Bay Packers before being benched for Caleb Hanie. Hanie performed admirably in relief but struggled mightily in the 2011 Bears preseason.

Even with Hanie's struggles and only completing 8 regular season passes in his young career, Angelo continued to ignore bringing in a proven veteran back up. After Jay Cutler went down for the season, several veteran backups were on the market, including former NFC Champion quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Donovan McNabb. Caleb Hanie wound up being a disaster, throwing 3 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, posting a 41.8 QB passer rating, and an holding an 0-4 record as starter.

Hanie's confidence became worse with each start while Angelo did nothing. Eventually Angelo brought Josh McCown off the street to replace Hanie, but by that time it was too late to salvage the Bears playoff hopes. A once 7-3 team and rolling toward the playoffs finished losing 5 out of its last 6 games on the outside looking inside and searching for answers.

With Angelo's firing it was clear Mike Martz's tenure was on thin ice. Martz's offensive system lead to the most sacks of a quarterback in the league during his time leading the offenses of the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, and Chicago Bears. Martz also was a stubborn coordinator, refusing at times to keep run/pass balance when reliable running backs were plenty.  Such a philosophy put even more pressure on the quarterback position. Bears fans became increasingly frustrated with Martz and desired his termination. An unstable offensive line, unreliable backup quarterback, stubborn offensive philosophy, an offensive system not designed to keep its quarterback upright, and fan unrest could not sustain the embattled coordinator.

A new GM faces the challenges of an aging defense, an inconsistent offensive line, lack of a solid backup quarterback, and thin talent at the receiver position. The Bears hold the 19th pick in the upcoming 2012 draft. Its first priority is selecting an offensive lineman, possibly underclassman Peter Konz from Wisconsin if he declares.

Angelo's contract runs into 2013 and the Bears will have to pay his salary in addition to the salary of the new general manager it hires.

Exavier B. Pope, Esq. is an entertainment and sports attorney, media personality, and legal blogger for Chicago Now. All opinions expressed are those solely of Mr. Pope.

(c) 2011, Exavier Pope

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  • The more interesting legal point is the corporate governance issues this episode, including yesterday's press conference, exposed, but I discussed that more on the 4th Phase blog, where that blogger assumed that there was a corporate governance model, and, besides, Chicago Bears Football Club Inc. is a private entity, so who cares.

    As far as paying dead money, that's always cited, but since they can't reward anyone for past performance (past consideration rule, you know), that is done through extensions. The corporation would have to write two checks, but I remember all the yowling in 2006 that Lovie was the least paid coach and deserves an extension for getting the Bears into the Super Bowl; then for the next 3 years, the Bears did squat. So, even though he is apparently being kept on for some length of time, they would be only paying him what he "deserved" for getting to the NFC championship in 2010.

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