Category Archives: Fire Phil Emery

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.

We Will Soon See If Ryan Pace Gets It

Alshon Jeffrey is a free agent at the end of this season. We all know that.

Ryan Pace needs to sign the extension now. Why is this so urgent? We need to accelerate as much of Alshon’s signing bonus and salary into this season as we can. We are done for this year (and likely next year). Putting as much money as possible into this year does nothing but benefit us in later years when we may need a bit of cap room to put us over the top to reach a playoff spot. Phil Emery made the classic error of waiting until the season was over, and THEN signing Cutler to his deal, wasting a full year of salary cap pro-ration. That especially hurt us seeing the structure and size of Cutler’s contract and is likely one of the main reasons he is gone. He didn’t get it.

While we are at it, I wouldn’t mind seeing some cuts this year to free up cap room for players we don’t really have any intention of signing (Willie Young, among others) so we could get some more deals done. We need a short term extension for the Black Unicorn and I wouldn’t mind seeing Long get an extension even though we are still a year out on his deal. Again, accelerating Long’s money into this year and what is likely another “tank” year in 2016 does nothing but help the future.

The way the Bears are running Forte into the ground, I don’t think we have any intention of signing him, unless he would give us a sweetheart deal. He might have to anyways. The market for aging NFL running backs does not exist – especially ones over 30 with some injury history.

If the season ends and then we see Pace sign Jeffrey (wasting a year of salary cap pro-ration), we will know right then and there that he doesn’t get it. But I think he does.

Domains Released

Well today we have our own little post Black-Monday routine which is the “releasing of the domains”.  I had Fire Aaron Kromer and Fire Marc Trestman which I released back into the general pool.  For some reason I never bought Mel Tucker in the first place but I’ll be sure to buy the DC coordinator next time because boy did we stink up the joint on defense.  I didn’t try to buy Emery either will look into that next GM as well.  And another learning is to buy up the special teams guy – man we’ve fallen apart over the last few years.

One thing we never do, however, is give up the domain for Ron Turner.  Even though it is a sad ol’ “.net” domain we keep fireronturner.net forever and I consider that money well spent.  Unlike the guys up above who came through town and failed and moved on, Ron Turner wrecked the Illini AND the Bears TWICE and we just can’t believe he still has a job anywhere in football.  He also blew the only chance we probably will have for a super bowl win in my damn life time, a game so sad that Dan and I never even discuss it.

Black Monday Open Thread

So I got this “to the point” email from Halas Hall over the weekend:

bears

Well, today is the day.  I am quite sure that there will be some office cleaning at Halas Hall.  I will be busy updating our masthead while our crack tech staff (Carl) will be working on dumping our past re-directs and setting up new ones as events unfold.

Personally, I want a presser from ownership that lays out a clear plan on the future, once the pieces are in place.

The Benching of Jay

jay sacked

We all heard it last night – Jimmy Clausen is starting Sunday and Jay is benched.  Jason from Over the Cap speaks to the situation but the money is this:

Trading Cutler leaves the Bears with just a $4 million dead money hit on their salary cap and would create $12.5 million in cap space in 2015. Cutler’s contract contains dead money because the Bears converted a portion of his base salary to a signing bonus to aid them in signing Jared Allen.  If he remains in Chicago he will carry a $16.5 million cap hit in 2015 and $17 million cap hit in 2016. The 2016 number would be completely wiped from the books.

Cutting Cutler is not really an option. If they release him the Bears will still need to pay him $15.5 million.  In addition his bonus money would accelerate, leaving Chicago with a $19.5 million cap charge. That cap charge would result in a loss of $3 million in cap room. If they were to consider it they would need to release him in early March. On the 3rd day of the 2015 League Year $10 million of Cutler’s $16 million salary in 2016 becomes fully guaranteed.

So by the numbers, this is the situation.  I have a few theories I would like to present.  Most of it is black helicopter stuff, but work with me.

One theory I have is that the Bears already have a deal done with someone and part of it was to keep Jay out of the last couple games to keep him healthy, especially against the ferocious Lions defense.  It will be interesting to see if Fales is active this week – he was inactive last week, so collected a nice, higher paycheck for doing basically nothing but standing on the sidelines (good for him).  For those not in the know, the Bears signed Fales off of the practice squad when it was heard that the Patriots were making him an offer.

If Cutler is inactive on Sunday, I think that is a sure sign that a trade has been done, and we can all start complaining about the next qb (that is, after we are done laughing at Clausen).

One other thought I had was that Jay would take a decrease in salary or some sort of restructure just to get the f1ck out of town and start over somewhere else, even as a backup.  If the Bears got creative, and Cutler swallowed some pride and some dough, I could see him helping out on certain teams.

A last thought I had was that perhaps management will just cut him and eat all the money and just say “to hell with it”.  But I doubt with this type of money that this situation is grounded in reality.

Anyways, esteemed commenters, lets get those tinfoil hats on and speculate.

2014 Season

dumpster fire

I guess the picture above pretty much describes the 2014 season in a nutshell.

Since I am sort of (sort of?) a math geek I decided to look at the Bears playoff chances and believe it or not, we are still have a mathematical possibility to make the playoffs, even sitting here at a dismal 5-8.  But let’s be real.

I think it is probably prediction time, as far as coaches heads go.

I will start.  Trestman and Emery get one more year and will receive the dreaded “vote of confidence” from the owners.  Tucker and de Camillis get canned before the season is out (who knows, maybe even today).  Pasqualoni gets elevated to interim DC.  Kromer stays put.  Lets hear your predictions in the comments.

So Long Lance and Looking To The Future

The way that I get most of my news about Bears personnel is watching the transactions wire.  You can see it here.

Rather than taking what is speculated upon in the press or “scooped” by unreliable reporters, you can always look at the transactions listing with confidence.  It is like math; the transactions listing is always black and white and doesn’t have an opinion.  It is an open book for all to see and a teller of truth.

The most recent transaction was to place Lance Briggs on IR, which basically means that his season is over, and by extension, his career with the Bears.  Lance got paid $4.75mm this year, plus a $500k roster bonus and $250k workout bonus.  He is one of the highest paid linebackers in the league.  But…he is 34, and now has 11 seasons under his belt.  He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

The only way I can see Briggs coming back with the Bears is if he takes a veteran minimum type of contract, but I doubt that will happen.  In fact, I am 75% sure that Briggs will just hang it up.  He has had a fantastic run and I imagine his body must be begging him for a break.  Time for him to pick up a cush job endorsing some used car lot and making appearances on the Score for some extra bucks.  While we are talking about moving on, I thought I would look at the Bears current roster and discuss the future a bit.

But before we get there, look at the transaction right before Briggs being put on IR.  Brian de la Puente goes on IR as well.  Damn our O line is just not deep enough, again.  Anyways…

Here are the guys that I am 100% sure will be back with the team next year in no particular order:

Defense***:

Jared Allen, David Bass, Jon Bostic, Chrstian Jones, Brock Vereen, Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Stephen Paea, Tim Jennings, Cornelius Washington (be prepared to see him possibly go on IR as well)

Offense:

Martellus Bennett, Jermon Bushrod, Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills

Specials:

Robbie Gould, Pat O’Donnell

You will note some interesting names off the list, first and foremost being Cutler.  While he did just sign the deal, there are always things you can do to get out of the deal, and/or soften the blow on the cap – if the Bears can find a trading partner.  But this goes back to what the long term vision of the upper management is.  If they decide to ride this current staff out with their contracts, expect to see Cutler and Trestman back at Soldier field next year.  If they decide to blow up things sooner, rather than later, you might see the following:

Cutler shopped, and Forte offered a new deal, or cut.  Forte’s scheduled pay for next year is $6.65mm salary, plus $1.05mm roster bonus plus $100k workout bonus.  If the Bears release him, it is only a $1mm dead money hit.  With the market for running backs tanking the way that is has been with so many busts around the league, Forte has a decision to make.  Take a restructure, or get cut.  That is, if the Bears management is thinking soundly.  Don’t get me wrong – I love Forte.  But that position just isn’t worth this sort of money when you can liekely get a crazed SEC lunatic RB in the draft, pay him 20% of what Forte is making and get likely 85% of that production on the field.  Then, use the new draftee up, cut him before the rookie deal is up, and get a new one.  That is the new reality of the running back position – and Carl called this years ago to his credit.

I am also not 100% sure that Marshall will be back even though he just signed an extension this year.  This is another guy with a million miles on him – and you could see that he was a step behind this year.  His contract next year shows a $7.5mm base, with a $200k workout bonus.  BUT the dead money associated with cutting Marshall is HUGE, at $13.125mm.  So because of that, he may be traded, but if Marshall puts his foot down, he will be on the roster.

Cutler will be in year two of his deal, and he can’t be cut, as he would have almost $20mm in dead money associated with that, but he could be dealt.  And I have no clue how the negotiations go in these situations where there is an existing contract.

Of course, this is all assuming that upper management wants to blow the whole thing up.  If they do, they will need a year, and possibly two to unwind all of the cap room that we would need to field a good team once again.  And realistically, the Bears could decide that internally and just not tell anyone.  Trestman, if nothing else, will work his ass off to do what he can with what he has.  You can say a lot of bad things about Trestman, but you cannot challenge his work ethic, or professionalism.

I imagine the Bears have already run some sort of regression to project what sort of costs are associated with blowing up everything now, or running everything into the ground one more year and then blowing it up.  At least that is what I would do, if my team were in this situation.  Just using a wild assed guess, I would bet that the numbers would show that running it down for one more year and getting out from under some of the current player and coaching contracts would be the way to go.  I think this is what they did with Lovie.  The only problem with this strategy is that if you end up making the playoffs, it makes it pretty damned hard to “Fire Everybody” as we like to call this humble space.  And you never know in the NFL.

Looking at the coaches, we obviously need to jettison Tucker and de Camillis, along with a bunch of the other D coaches and it will be interesting to see what happens to Kromer.  That is Trestman’s guy from way back in the day, but Emery might make a call on that.  Trestman runs the offense anyways, so exactly what Kromer’s job is could be a topic for debate.  I highly doubt that ownership would eat two years of Trestman’s deal, but stranger things have happened.  Past experience, however, shows that the Bears don’t exactly like to do that sort of thing (see Lovie).

I would prefer not blowing up the whole thing and just being good with what we have, but that doesn’t look to be in the cards, sadly.  As I have been saying, this will be one of the most interesting off seasons in recent memory.  There are a lot of things in play with personnel and coaches.  I remain positive, since the NFL changes extremely quickly.   But I am also a realist and understand that so many things that look simple – aren’t.  As I tend to say, individual events don’t necessarily happen in a vacuum – but keep a side eye on that transactions page I mentioned in the beginning of this (now way too long) post.  It may share with you a lot of the untold story of what Bears coaching and management is thinking if you read between the lines.

*** Most of the above discussion has been about our offense because I honestly think we have a core group of guys on defense that could be a force someday, with the right coaching.  Our last few drafts have been outstanding and with a little better positioning, or maybe a better scheme, we will be just fine.  Obviously, a new defensive coordinator next year will be a huge help getting these guys in the right place at the right time.