On Mel Tucker’s Future

Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes head coach Marc Trestman on whether defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will be retained:

“’I haven’t had a discussion with Mel,’ Trestman said. ‘The coaches need a chance to rest. The last thing you want to do is start making decisions three days after a very, very disappointing loss.’”

Translation: Tucker’s in serious trouble.

I’m going to say that coming off of that terrible performance against the Eagles followed by what would be at best termed an uneven performance against the Packers, that Trestman and/or general manager Phil Emery’s first instinct was to fire Tucker. But they don’t want to make a decision in the heat of the moment that they may later regret. So they are waiting a week or two to allow time to gain perspective. Add the fact that they are seriously considering a scheme change and you get a situation where Tucker’s job is hanging on a thread.

Cutler Grows with Time and Bears

Rick Telander at the Chicago Sun-Times addresses yesterday’s Jay Cutler signing. The Bears bet big on Cutler, signing him to a seven year deal (though rumor has it that it’s only a three year deal with what is practically a club option for years four through seven). Telander hits upon an interesting point though it’s not exactly the one I would make:

“’The team elected him captain,’ [head coach Marc] Trestman reminded us there at Halas Hall. ‘He carries the weight of the team on his shoulders.’’

“The saintly allusion notwithstanding, it seems clear that Cutler has become a better teammate, a better, more mature person with time. His wife, Kristin Cavallari, the former reality-show star, sat in the corner of the room to Cutler’s right.

“She looked lovely in her camel-hair coat and high heels, particularly considering she is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

“Could this be the Bears’ Yoko Ono, ready to drive Trestman and his main pupil apart? Doubtful, even though Cutler said that he was now making so much money he didn’t know how to spend it, though Kristin probably did.”

Telander’s main thrust is that he is willing to believe that Cutler has matured to the point that he can lead the team to a Super Bowl even though he actually still has his doubts. I find myself in the same boat though I thought the final performance against the Packers was encouraging. He did a much better job than usual playing within the offense, throwing the ball through the end zone rather than forcing it on their best drive of the first half and at least trying to throw the slant route with anticipation.

I also agree with Telander (and Trestman) in that I found Cutler to be generally more mature this year both on the field and in the interview room (despite a breakdown or two). Telander jokes about Cavallari. But far from being a disruptive force, she might be more the cause for this change in attitude. Marriage, one kid with another on the way. It has a way of giving people perspective over time that they lacked before. I was just old enough to watch this happen with my own parents and I believe that it is not uncommon.

It’s been interesting to watch Cutler grow in Chicago, going from the young, single star quarterback who hit the bars with his favorite tight end (drinking alcohol despite being an advocate for diabetes) to – we hope – the stable young husband and father with responsibilities. And like it or not, we’re going to have ample opportunity to watch him, and the team, grow side by side for a long time to come.

Congratulations to the Bucs On Hiring Lovie Smith. Maybe.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers has hired former Bears coach Lovie Smith as their new head coach. Smith is a good head coach with a solid defensive mind who got the most out of his players on on that side of the ball. But a few other fleeting thoughts also crossed my mind:

  1. Who will Smith hire as his offensive coordinator? Smith never got this right with the Bears. Rumor has it that he has Jeff Tedford in mind for the job – indeed his Wikipedia page already indicates that he has it. Tedford would be a potential improvement over Smith’s Bears hires in that he has experience coaching quarterbacks and the Bucs have a young one to bring along in Mike Glennon. But Tedford is typical in other ways that are not as positive. I always had the feeling that Smith was afraid of hiring his own replacement with the Bears. Tedford has never played or coached in the NFL. His major qualification might not be so much that he is the best available guy but that he was a guy who won’t overshadow Smith.
  2. Who will be the general manager? It is, in my opinion, always, always, always a bad idea to hire a coach before a GM. Especially when it comes to Smith. Rumor has it that forder Bears general manager Jerry Angelo believed that his drafts were not successful partly because of compromises he made with the head coach. He couldn’t take a guy that Smith didn’t agree to and apparently Smith wasn’t shy about disagreeing. In any case it is evident that it was a constant struggle. Now, to make matters worse, Smith was hired first with the Buccaneers. That limits their choice of GM to men who agree with the Smith hire. It also give Smith and the public the impression that he was the more important hire and therefore that he holds the upper hand in the relationship. This could be very bad.

There’s good reason why Bears general manger Phil Emery fired Smith after a 10-6 season. Those reasons aren’t evident to those outside of Chicago where many are praising this hire. Buccaneer fans are excited and to an extent they should be. Smith will get the most out of the defensive talent on the Buccaneers and they might have some short term success with the guys they have. But long term, in a league where offense is king and the ability to draft young talent determines sustained success, I don’t like their chances.