Let’s Talk About the Chicago Bears

Here we are, 1-6 – soon to be embarrassed on national TV (yet again) and we will be sitting at 1-7 to start the year. So let’s talk about the Chicago Bears.

There is so much to unpack here and so much history. I will begin with the boss, George McCaskey.

There are a lot of jokes that go around making fun of the McCaskey family and how they run things. But the fact of the matter is that they have not been stingy with the cash at all. Over and over they have spent untold millions of dollars on this team, trying to make it better. I question keeping Ted Phillips around, however. In what possible world can Ted be considered “successful”? But what is successful to the McCaskeys? Making money? They certainly do that. If it is simply a question of making money, well, more power to them. Nobody has to go to the games (keep an eye on the stands as the weather gets cold and things get more and more bleak). But my gut tells me that they really do want to win. So why is Ted around?

When Ted and George hired Ryan Pace, I felt really good about it. Fresh face, renewed energy, a new way to look at things. An interesting departure from stodgy Phil Emery. But what a mess. It doesn’t appear that Pace has any clear direction. Granted, our whole team seems to get injured every week (and who’s fault is that, anyways?) but we have seen hundreds of guys in Bear uniforms in just a year and a half since the Pace/Fox era started. Our drafts these first two years haven’t been stellar (jury still out on some players, I will give Pace that). But what is the plan? Is there one? The Bears have to be looking long term at this point and form some sort of plan and stick to it. Too many moving pieces.

John Fox. He seems completely clueless. Maybe it is just me. This was Pace’s big hire and he doesn’t really seem to be “with it” in pressers, or on the sidelines or…anything. I am pretty unimpressed so far.

Cutler. He’s gone after this year so everyone can stop blaming everything on him (see how well Hoyer and Barkley did in Cutler’s absence just like Pickles last year). So what are we going to do for a qb? Early draft pick? Could work, might not. Brady was a 6th rounder. The first rounder in Philly, against all of my predictions, seems to be doing well. The number one pick from last year’s draft hasn’t played a down yet. You just never know.

Our offensive line is adequate, but that doesn’t get you into the playoffs and adequate gets your qb killed. Over and over. Even Seattle is having a tough time keeping Wilson upright and Green Bay is also finding out what living with an adequate line is like. Rodgers is definitely not himself this year.

The receivers outside of Jeffrey are unremarkable and in need of an upgrade. Kevin White is a complete and total bust.

Our defense actually seems to be coming along. I know it takes time to learn a new system, but many players have played the 3-4 on other teams so it isn’t like it is as big of a deal as a new offensive coordinator. Our front seven (especially once we get McPhee back) is more stout than I have seen in a while, but our corners and safeties bite. Many injuries on that front as well.

Speaking of injuries, what the heck? Why are we so cursed? Our starting center blew his knee up on FAMILY NIGHT. That is insane. I don’t know if this is bad luck, or poor training, but it just seems like we are always the walking wounded. I have no real explanation for this as I assume that most of the trainers (maybe I am assuming too much) have some sort of NFL experience and know how to train guys up for the long season.

So where does all of this armchair quarterbacking leave us? I really don’t know. Will upper management give Pace and Fox another year? I think that is the real question. I don’t know how much pressure there is on these guys but the owners have to feel tired of seeing their franchise being a laughingstock for so long. If the pressure is too great, there will be sacrificial lambs first (coordinators) then probably Fox, then Pace will go. It is in all of their best interests to show at least a little flash of brilliance (ha) at the end of this year to give Ted and George some sort of confidence in what we have here.

In the end, I am sort of clueless. I know that all of these folks are working as hard as they can, but nothing seems to be clicking. Again.

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2 responses to “Let’s Talk About the Chicago Bears

  1. Carl from Chicago

    Yes John Fox has been disappointing. But I guess we should be surprised that he even keeps showing up for work every day given how many injuries and assorted bad luck he’s faced and that he’s on the edge of retirement anyways. It is like that first Lethal Weapon movie “I don’t need this sh*t”.

    The red-meat critics won’t like your nuanced portrait of the McCaskey’s as people that spend money and try to do their best but fail but I think that’s accurate.

    Hilarious that folks hate Cutty. Sure he hasn’t taken us to the next level but we are about to have a spate of very bad quarterbacking coming up. Not that they will connect the two together.

    I think Floyd is going to be a bust. But I hope I’m wrong. White is a total epic bust. At least he isn’t bankrupting us like old first round picks used to.

  2. I think on the surface what you’re saying makes sense, but a closer look reveals an uglier truth.
    The McCaskeys spending. Yes, ownership spends money on players. But, lets be honest, to not spend to the salary cap would be a PR nightmare, cost them more in publicity. But what about the areas outside of capped player salaries?

    The stadium? Phillips keeps his job because was tasked with getting the “new” stadium deal done, and infuse the McCaskeys pockets with some money. He did it, but it was short sighted and the Bears now have the worst “new” stadium in the league. I still laugh when I think of all the hoops they jumped through because of Soldier fields landmark status, but didnt consult those responsible for assigning that status. After the changes were made, they lost landmark status. Lol! If you were going to lose landmark status anyway, you could have made some major changes. The columns? They could have done something respectful with them. The smallest stadium in the 2nd largest market is just stupid. Oh, a retractable dome in a convention city would be nice in the offseason and it would allow Chicago to host the Superbowl. It would have paid for itself in a few years. Oops.

    Administrative staff, scouting? The Bears didnt even employ a general manager like the rest of the NFL in the 1990’s. Their scouting departments, until recently, was among the smallest in the NFL too. The Phil Emery hire, they didnt go after the top candidates…they went after the “name they know” because Emery was a scout with the Bears a decade earlier. At the time Emery was on NOBODY’s short list for GM candidates. We know why now.

    How about Historical coaching hires. Until the Fox hiring, they had never hired a high priced head coach. Lets also not forget that they planned on hiring Bruce Arriens a few years ago, but the deal fell through when they were stingy with money. Its well documented that Arriens pulled out of the deal when the Bears refused to give his chosen assistants more than 2 year deals. He is quoted as saying he couldnt possibly ask people to uproot their families without a longer commitment to them. Lets go back further and look at Greg Olsen. Olsen was traded becuase Mike Martz did not use the TE in his system. At the time, everyone knew Martz was going to be let go the next year, so it was terribly short sighted. Why was Martz going to be fired NEXT year? Because he had another guaranteed year on his contract. Same thing happened with Lovie Smith. This is the dilema of cheap ownership, they dont want to pay top coaches or assistants so they go after people who are unproven or proven bad, then they try to lowball them with short term deals. When any coaching deal doesnt work out, they rarely fire them because of the guaranteed money left on the deals. The firing of Mark Trestman was only done because of being embarrassingly bad, which costs them more than the dead salary. Look for John Fox to be given one more year, not because he deserves it, but because he has 2 years left on his deal.

    Now lets look at the Fox hire. Reseach the Denver articles at the time and you’ll see the vast speculation that Fox had a soft job offer before Ryan Pace was even hired. Fox was hand picked by geriatric outside consulrant Ernie Acorsie. The Fox hire wasnt about winning a superbowl, it was about not being embarrassed anymore. Bears are finding out what Denver already knew, John Fox is not the answer. He embraces a philosophy that is long outdated (playing not to lose). He also doesnt value offensive playmakers….see Forte, Bennett, Marshall, and soon Jeffery, exits from Chicago. Fox is all about trying to keep the game close and seeing if you can win a coin flip at the end. Its a middling strategy that will win you some games you should lose, lose you some games you should win, and keep fans thinking that they were “so close”. The reality is it will NEVER win a championship.

    One last thought. The bad luck of injuries? Lets not forget the 25 year old Soldier field sod issue. There are many dicumented injuries due to this sod. Ownership deflects on the City of Chicago Park district, but who made that shady deal with them in the first place? Why are other events allowed in there that tear up the field in the first place? Why not install the new field turf that professional and college teams across the country use? Follow the money, and you’ll likely find a sweatheart deal with the City and some cronyism with the soding company.

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