Updated: Typical Cutler. And Other Points of View.


  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune interviews former Bears consultant Ernie Accorsi.

    That “we” is significant, I think. Accorsi must have liked the work he did here. He identifies himself with the organization even though technically his job is done. That bodes well for the Bears future with a young GM that will undoubtedly need some advice every once in a while.

    This is a great, wide-ranging interview, by the way. A lot can be learned about football from Accorsi’s thought processes. This section on how Bears general manager Ryan Pace came to be on his radar is a good example:

  • Former Bears returner Devin Hester needs to speak for himself:

    “The city of Chicago knows and disagrees with the situation they made. For a guy like Brian Urlacher, probably one of the top three or five names that ever played in Chicago — for his career to end like that, that’s tough.”

    I did not disagree with the way that Urlacher exited. Though we were all sad to see him go, he was given a fair offer and turned it down. Notably, no one else signed him and, as far as anyone knows, no one offered him anywhere near what the Bears did.

    Having said that, I look back on Hester’s exit with some regret. We’ll never know what kind of receiver he would have made here. He’s not a big “go up and get it” guy and he had a quarterback who was unable or flat out unwilling to throw to him. I think he could speak for the city of Chicago if he said we all wish him well in Atlanta.

  • These Tribune polls have been around for some time now and I’m rarely surprised at the results. Nor did which asks “Should the Bears tell Brandon Marshall not to do ‘Inside the NFL‘ next season?” did. Almost 90% of you said “yes”. There’s no actual direct benefit to Bears fans to Marshall being on. So the logical, selfish response would ordinarily be “yes”.Probably most of the voters assumed Marshall wouldn’t be around in Chicago so it wouldn’t matter anyway. There’s been a ground swell against Marshall since the season ended amongst both fans and media. His locker room outburst early in the season didn’t help but I’m sure most of it is lack of production in what was a miserable season.

    Don’t hold your breath thinking that Marshall will be gone. He was playing hurt most of the year and he’s one of the few players on the team that I thought played with the talent, the guts and the desire of a winner. I’m confident that I’m not the only one who knows it and I’m reasonably certain he’ll be back whether he’s on Inside the NFL or not.

  • Lance Briggs comments on the Bears coaching situation:

    “‘John [Fox], I think, he’s the right man for the job,’ Briggs said. ‘I’ve seen John over the years. He’s had a lot of success in the NFL. He understands the NFL. He’s a football coach.’

    “And former coach Marc Trestman?

    “‘Some things worked. Some things don’t,’ Briggs said. ‘Marc is a good man. I wish him all the success over in Baltimore. It just was what it was.'”

    Give Briggs credit. Since his last contract negotiation was over he’s usually said all of the right things. I just wish he’d done the right things more often.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio:

    “After joining the 49ers following a year at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh, Fangio waited until he saw his players in person after the 2011 lockout to make major decisions with his defense. That meant the plan didn’t unfold until after he had seen them on the practice field beginning in late July. Fangio didn’t want to have his opinion of players potentially shaped from film of them in a different scheme with different coaches. He waited to see the talent personally, plugged in players in the right spots and the 49ers’ defense took off immediately.”

    Assuming that we’re looking at a hybrid scheme, it looks like Bears defenders are going to have a lot to learn very quickly this year. Over the last decade, Bears players have basically been asked to play one basic position one way and do it extremely well. This is going to be a lot different. It should be interesting to see how well they adapt.


  • For those who care the NFL’s full statement Friday about the ongoing “inflate-gate” investigation cane be found here.
  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com tells you exactly why I dislike Seattle coach Pete Carroll:

    “[Bill] Belichick was found to have violated league rules in “Spygate” and was fined $500,000, and the Patriots lost a first-round draft choice. Now he is implicated — although not charged — in the deflated footballs incident, and many are calling him a cheater.

    “Carroll built a dynasty at USC and then had it all wiped out by findings of rampant rules violations while he skipped town just ahead of the posse to take the Seattle job.

    “Asked about that on media day, Carroll responded he never talks about it because he still thinks the NCAA was wrong. Mmm huh.

    “Earlier this season Seattle was fined over $300,000 and docked two 2015 minicamp practices due to Carroll overseeing illegal practices this past summer.

    “I guess they’re both cheaters, but only the Patriots coach is being branded with the scarlet C this week. Is that because Belichick has won so much more than Carroll, or because Carroll is so much more media friendly?”

    Probably both. But neither excuses it.

One Final Thought

One has to wonder how the Bears expect Cutler to run an offense when this is what happens at home with the kids when Kristin Cavallari is away. Cavallari had apparently just arrived at the airport when this exchange took place:


Jaxon is 2 and Camden is 8 months old.

[Edit 2/1/15: After getting some comments from friends on this post it occurs to me that I need to point out that I am, indeed, joking.

My sister in law was pregnant with twins (they would have been her third and fourth child) and my mother was going on about how much fun it was. My father turned to me and said, “She doesn’t remember. You were 
three, your brother was two and we had newborn twins. There were evening where all I could do was shut the door, sit on on the bed and put my head in my hands.”

Don’t worry. I don’t like Cutler but I wouldn’t blame him for this.]

Managing Expectations and Other Points of View


  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune reports this nugget:

    “[New Bears head coach John] Fox asserted Monday that one of his biggest attractions to the Bears job was to work for a storied franchise in a city that oozes football passion. And in that vein, he made it clear he intends to soon connect with several Bears icons, singling out Brian Urlacher and Mike Ditka.”

    “Said team President Ted Phillips: ‘It says that he understands our history and the tradition and making sure the great players that we’ve had in our past are still important today.'”

    Yeah. What it says is that he’s smart enough to know what ownership wants to hear.

    “Fox also took note of the franchise’s lone Lombardi Trophy, displayed in the Halas Hall lobby to commemorate the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl triumph.

    “‘That trophy,’ Fox said, ‘is kind of lonely out there.'”

    Its notable that George McCaskey actually uses that very phrase to describe the trophy when he takes people on personal tours of the facility.

    The McCaskeys take the history of the franchise very seriously and they were pretty close to Urlacher. They probably weren’t happy that Emery managed to anger Urlacher in the way the franchise parted company with him.

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune comments on another thing that Fox said that caught my ear:

    “‘Football is a combative, physical game,’ new Bears coach John Fox offered in his plain-spoken manner. ‘It takes combative, physical people.’

    “Party’s over. Get tough or get out.”

    That fits with what we’ve heard. Looks like the Bears are going to be a lot more physical if Fox has anything to say about it.

  • With the hiring of Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, the media has begun speculating about what personnel changes will be needed to run a 3-4 defense. This article from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune is typical. The Bears don’t’ have much in the way of personnel that match up with a 3-4 scheme. But, as Biggs points out, they needed a lot of defensive personnel anyway. Nevertheless, they’ll be throwing away a number of good defensive linemen like Jared Allen that don’t fit the scheme well. This could lengthen the rebuilding process quite a bit. It will be interesting to hear what the players have to say about the change.Having said that, Fangio has shown himself to be versatile and virtually everyone agrees that even under the best of conditions he’d run a hybrid defense which shows its fair share of 40 fronts. They cold simply run a lot more of those looks the first couple years as they make the necessary personnel changes. That would be my guess as to what we’re in store for.
  • Via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times the Bears have hired Josh Lucas as Director of Player Personnel. Lucas spent the last 10 seasons with the Saints, scouting the South region for the last two seasons.I hate to once again be the voice of pessimism here but Pace is going to have to look outside the New Orleans organization at some point to get the best people. He’s worked for one organization his whole career. I’d sure feel better about him if I thought he was better connected.

    My understanding is that consultant Ernie Accorsi‘s job was over when Fox was hired. I’d feel better if he was still around advising Pace.

  • The Bears new special teams coordinator is Jeff Rogers. Which probably means nothing to you at this point other than his name isn’t Joe DeCamillis. Via Mullin.
  • The Colts can only block the Bears from interviewing Rob Chudzinski for one more week. Via Darin Gantt at profootballtalk.com


  • Those of you who are considering betting on the Super Bowl should think about this tidbit from Kevin Seifert at ESPN:

    “There is one initial tidbit to consider in advance of a Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl, which will be refereed by Bill Vinovich. (That’s according to multiple reports, including one from ESPN rules analyst Jim Daopoulos.) Since Vinovich returned to the referee role in 2012 after recovering from heart problems, he has been assigned five Seahawks games. Seattle is 5-0 in those games, including three victories by at least 20 points. “

  • I felt really bad for the Packers defense after their overtime playoff loss to the Seahawks. The Packers flat out outplayed Seattle for 56 minutes of regulation time and the Packer defense in particular played testicles out. They were all in, playing cover-0 for a good part of the game.I actually had the Packers picked to win. I’d heard that the Seahawks were “loose” last week to the point where you wouldn’t even have known they had a conference championship game coming up. They took the Packers lightly and, even though they lost, the Packers gave them all they could handle. The game was a joy to watch.
  • Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com passes on the news that Tony Verna, inventor of instant replay, has died:

    “It wasn’t easy. Verna told the Pacific Standard in 2013 that prior to that 1963 Army-Navy Game, networks needed about 15 minutes to cue up a film and show a play for a second time. To do it in 15 seconds required an innovative approach that featured some fits and starts and setbacks including vacuum tubes burning out and a replay having to be scrapped because the film they used had previously been used to record an I Love Lucy episode and Lucille Ball’s face could still be seen superimposed over the football field.

    Needless to say it wasn’t posted to the Internet.

One Final Thought

Wiederer quotes Fox:

“I’ve always been of the (mindset) of understate, overproduce. I’ve never predicted records. If I could do that I’d be at a race track somewhere.”

I’d say that’s the smart play. You could argue that high expectations – those of the fans, media and, especially, the players, were the biggest thing that killed the 2014 Bears. Remember “Cutler for MVP?”. It was a joke.

I think expecting to win is a good thing. But there are too many factors that can derail a team that isn’t as good as it thinks it is to allow such things to get out of hand. The Bears had a Super Bowl or bust mentality last year that was, in retrospect, only appropriate for the Super Bowl runner up. They hadn’t done anything, yet.

Fox Clashing Too Much with Management-Types? Well, You Can Hardly Blame Him for This One…

Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times recalls covering the Raiders in 1996. New Bears head coach John Fox quit as the defensive coordinator late in the exhibition season after an apparent dispute with owner Al Davis. This one should make Bears fans feel a little better about last season’s version of their team. A little.

“If you thought the 2014 Bears were rife with dysfunction, you should’ve seen the Raiders in the mid-1990s. Strange seasons, such as the one the Bears endured in 2014, were the norm for them.

“Davis’ bizarre leadership created paranoia so profound that [the Raiders head coach Mike] White refused to identify the person responsible for calling offensive plays. He insisted plays were called by committee, with himself, offensive coordinator Jim Fassel and offensive line coach Joe Bugel all offering input before a call was made prior to the play clock expiring.

“Yeah, right. I was a beat reporter covering the team that season. By midseason, I would ask Fassel to comment about the weather because it was the only subject he could discuss without fear of repercussion. His daily weather updates became a running joke.”

In all seriousness, I’m starting to worry about Fox’s apparent penchant for clashing with high level organizational employees. At least his parting with the Broncos was apparently more amicable.

Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times addresses the topic:

“… Broncos executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway seemingly questioned Fox’s desire to win after the sides parted ways last week.

“Fox’s peculiar departure from the Broncos raises a red flag. Coaches with 46-18 regular-season records and four division titles in the last four seasons don’t get the boot often.”

Technically, Elway didn’t question Fox’s desire to win. He questioned the team’s fire. When describing Fox he used words like “tenacious”.

Still, its noticeable that the quotes in the articles in local newspapers have mostly come from players in Fox’s days with Carolina. In fact, I can’t remember a single one from a current Bronco. It does make one wonder what went on there. In that regard, this article from Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com where he details reports from the Denver media is worth a read.

Bottom line, here’s hoping he and Bears general manager Ryan Pace remain on the same page.

Jay Cutler Gone or Less Relevant? Either Way the Bears Are Better.

I couldn’t agree more with what John Mullin at csnchicago.com writes here:

“The Seattle Seahawks are going to a second consecutive Super Bowl with a quarterback they didn’t need. The New England Patriots are going to their sixth with one that they didn’t need, either. And therein lies a draft lesson for the Bears, who don’t need a quarterback right now, assuming that GM Ryan Pace, coach John Fox and whoever their new offensive coordinator is decide that a $15.5-million devil you know is better than one you don’t.”

Let’s add that the Packers went to the NFC Championship game with a firt round quarterback that they didn’t need.

If I’m Ryan Pace, I’m not wasting time with quarterback Jay Cutler, the devil I know. I’m starting my search for the right guy now. Even if it’s with a suspect player, its still someone you don’t know isn’t the guy. But even if he doesn’t do that, he should be looking for a quarterback to start in the future for this team in the draft – and not just in the bottom rounds.

Unfortunately I’m not Pace. So I think its more likely that this scenario laid out by Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times will play out:

“The guess is here is that there won’t be any takers for Cutler’s fat contract and that he’ll remain a Bear. Fox will rely more on running back Matt Forte and tell Cutler to knock it off with the stupid turnovers. The offense will be geared with that in mind. Cutler will go from the highest-paid quarterback of 2014 to the highest-paid game manager of 2015.”

I dno’t think he’ll exactly be a game manager. Fox acknowledged during his press conference that you won’t win if you can’t pass, especially on third down. But there’s little doubt in my mind that if Cutler stays, he’ll be de-emphasized in the offense. The more the better as far as I’m concerned and I know I’m not alone.

Why Could the Bears Be Winners as Soon as 2015 And Other Points of View


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes former Panthers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner on what new Bears head coach John Fox said in his first team meeting after taking over the 1-15 team:

    “‘He said, ‘You were 1-15 and they got rid of all the coaches,’ Buckner recalled. ‘None of those coaches played. None of those coaches dressed on Sunday. A lot of reasons you were 1-15 are sitting in this room, and it’s my job to weed you out.'”

    I’d say there are a few Bears that need to hear that. Its all roses and sunshine right now between Fox and Bears fans. But this alone makes me think the Bears probably got their man.

  • For some reason David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune is under the impression that we care what Brian Urlacher thinks.
  • Former NFL safety Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune tells us what we want to hear.
  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune tries to allay my fears that Fox won’t be able to fix the quarterback position. It didn’t work.My only comfort in this regard is that Bears general manager Ryan Pace will ultimately make the final decision on Jay Cutler. He’s’ has been watching Drew Brees for a good chunk of his career so he knows what a quarterback looks like.

    Pace is certainly going to watch a lot of tape before he comes to a decision. That means eventually he’s going to put on the tape of the game his New Orleans Saints played against the Bears on December 15. At that point he’ll know that he has to get rid of Cutler.

  • Biggs addresses what will be the next media topic, one that might drive the offseason until March:

    “No one knows yet, but the guess here is Fox is comfortable going into 2015 with [quarterback Jay] Cutler as his quarterback.”

    Yeah, that’s the way I read it, too. Fox will, at least, probably do his best to de-emphasize Cutler’s role to the extent you can with a quarterback. I’d expect a heavy dose of running back Matt Forte next year.

  • Biggs also quotes former Panthers and Bears wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad:

    “‘One of the things I appreciated from Fox that he did for every single player was you knew your role on the team. So if you’re the third receiver and you’re fighting for that No. 2 spot in training camp and you don’t win it — you’re not going to have a coach who says, ‘Keep trying, you can get there.’ No, he’s gonna go, ‘Hey my man, No. 2 is No. 2 for a reason and you’re No. 3 for a reason. When we go to three receivers, you are going to be in the game. Right now, I need you to focus on being the gunner on the punt team and I need you to be the best gunner you can be.’”

    One of the things that every successful head coach seems to get through to his players is the mantra, “Do your job.” Step one is probably being crystal clear on what that job is. Fox seems to be able to do that.

  • Denver Post columnist Benjamin Hochman on the Fox hire. Via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    “Chicago should be a good fit for him – and if he ever wins a Super Bowl, he’ll be remembered not only as the coach to win a Super Bowl, but to do so with Winnie The Pooh’s Eeyore at quarterback.”

  • Kudos to Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times for addressing the delicate issue of Fox’s health.
  • John Mullin at csnchicago.com does a nice job of describing some of the differences in the defensive scheme that we might see next year:

    “Fox has run a 4-3 defense since his time in Carolina, but it has been substantially different than what the Bears ran under Lovie Smith and radically different from the strange hybrid the Bears evolved into under Mel Tucker.

    “The Broncos under Fox were a 4-3 team. But they operated with massive tackles Terrance Knighton (331 pounds) and Sylvester Williams (313) and a defensive left end Derek Wolfe (285) in the mold of Phillip Daniels and Bryan Robinson from the days of Dick JauronGreg Blache’s two-gap jumbo front four.”

    “Fox, like the Seattle Seahawks’ 4-3 and some of the so-called 3-4 schemes, employed a smaller speed rusher as the fourth member of his front four. This season in Denver it was DeMarcus Ware (258 pounds, 10 sacks).”

    Fox also normally played a 4-3 over front in Denver (where the three technique tackle is on the strong-side) whereas the Bears played an under front last year.

    Do the Bears have the players to make this adjustment? Mullin thinks DE Jared Allen is more suited to the Denver scheme and points out that Ego Ferguson and Jeremiah Ratliff both might be successful. But they won’t have much defensive line depth. Add in the needs at linebacker and in the defensive backfield (which remain no matter what the scheme) and it seems clear that there’s considerable work to do on personnel if Fox makes this philosophical shift happen.

  • On a related note, Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com comments on Fox’s search for coordinators.

    “I am fascinated by [Vic] Fangio off the job he’s done in Frisco, and although I couldn’t care less whether the Bears play a 4-3 or a 3-4 as long as they play it well, there are a number of 3-4 fanatics out there in Bears nation who might finally get their wish.”

    Fangio ran a 3-4 when he was defensive coordinator for the 49ers.

    I’m with Arkush. I don’t care what they run. But I’m having a hard time believing they’ll try to run a 3-4 base. I’d say that it’s more likely that Fox wants to run a hybrid defense of the type that’s in vogue in the NFL now. Fox probably figures he has the experience to coach a 40 front and might want to bring in Fangio to provide the needed expertise to occasionally switch to a three man line.

  • Arthur Arkush at chicagofootball.com looks back at the Bears 2014 special teams:

    Phil Emery allowing Devin Hester to escape to Atlanta last spring without a clear contingency plan backfired. Hester showed he had plenty left in the tank for the Falcons, while the Bears cycled through returners.”

    In fairness, Emery had a clear contingency plan. It just didn’t work.

    The Bears couldn’t keep Hester. He was going to demand too much money and the Bears couldn’t pay what the Falcons paid for a guy that Cutler flat out refused to throw to. Letting Hester go was best for everybody, especially him.

    Reading this article was actually painful. You forget how bad they really were until you see so many of the errors collected in one spot. Special teams was a clown show last season.


  • Scott Osler at the San Fransisco Chronicle is worried about the 49ers. Most of us are. New coach Jim Tomsula sounds like Forrest Gump at the podium which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that he’s going to be a team motivator. But Osler is worried about a deeper problem:

    “Coaches come and go. York and Baalke are as cemented in place as Levi’s Stadium, and, well, gulp.

    “This is not a coach-friendly setup. [General manager Trent] Baalke is [owner Jed] York’s football guide and mentor, so Jed will always side with and give power to Baalke, putting the head coach in a weak spot.

    “And what has either man shown to instill faith in their ability to lead a team to the Super Bowl?”

    Not much. The roster is loaded with talent but that’s obviously not enough. Tomsula looks like Baalke’s version of Jerry Jones‘s “F- you Jimmy Johnson I can even win with Barry Switzer” than a winning choice. In fact, the guess here is that Tomsula’s best qualification is that he’s a good solider who won’t ever contradict Baalke. That’s not a good sign for either man.

  • Michael David Smith at profootballtalk.com passes on the fact that Rex Ryan has hired former Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer as his offensive line coach. That’s probably a good move for both of them.

One Final Thought

There is something strange when a new guy takes over at a company the way that Pace and Fox are taking over the Bears. Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes former Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross as he elaborates:

“You’ve got an opportunity when you come in right off the bat as a new head coach to utilize the excitement guys are going to have about you.”

There’s also a certain degree of fear. Suddenly the guy in charge doesn’t know you from Adam and your comfort level is gone. Suddenly, you wonder if your job is still going to be there in a few months. That leads to a focus that’s hard to replicate in any other way.

Most people believe that the Bears have embarked upon a multi-year rebuilding process. I think that belief is justified – if you are talking about building a consistent winner. But almost anyone can win for one year if the stars align correctly (e.g. the 2006 Bears).

The Bears actually have the talent to win if they stay healthy next year, if the ball falls their way enough and, especially, if enough guys play above their heads and have what amounts to career years. I’m not saying that they will – a lot of things have to go right. But they have a unique opportunity by starting fresh with new management. Here’s hoping they can take advantage of it.

John Fox Initiates A Warming Trend

Its 41°F  here in Chicago. Though that may not seem to be very warm compared to the usual temperatures in most of the habitable world, it counts as toasty here relative to the single digit readings which have been closer to the norm than freezing.

And in the spirit of the season, here’s a comforting thought from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:

“[New Bears head coach John] Fox is not expected to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., next week while he works to complete his coaching staff. [Bears general manager Ryan] Pace said he will join the Bears’ staff for the premier college all-star game.”

It’s a harmless little statement. But it says so much if you read in to it.

To the point, Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com compares and contrasts Fox with former Bears head coach Lovie Smith here. What Arkush leaves out is the real difference between the two. I hope.

Smith had two huge problems with the Bears. 1) He couldn’t hire the right assistants on the offensive side of the ball, specifically the right offensive coordinator. 2) He had a reputation for interfering with player personnel decisions, particularly those associated with the draft.

Fox shows every sign of not sharing those characteristics. He considers his first priority to be coaching and assembling a staff to be his first duty right now. He’s sacrificing a trip to the Senior Bowl where the live player evaluation process begins in order to do it.

Am I reading a lot into this? Yes. But actions speak louder than words and I think everyone will agree that this is a good sign.

Even if they weren’t in the playoffs, can you imagine Packers head coach Mike McCarthy thinking about going to the Senior Bowl right now? I think the odds are better that he’d be thinking about his next offseason quarterback camp.

For many years my ideal head coach has been an offensive coach with experience developing quarterbacks. I stand by that. But Fox is well-connected and shows every sign of being able to find the right offensive assistants. At least as much as that’s possible. If the Bears see any success under Fox at all, the coordinator positions will be constantly in flux. When Smith was the head coach, you always got the impression that he didn’t want to hire the strongest candidates. It was as if he was hesitant to deal with people who might express a contradictory opinion ([*cough*]Ron Rivera[*cough*]) or, even worse, was afraid of hiring his own replacement. Given Fox’s history, he shows no signs of even thinking about these things, much less making them a major consideration.

I do everything I can to be as objective as possible and reject the overly positive opinions of fans and members of the media at times like this. It’s not called a “honeymoon period” for nothing. But, like the Chicago weather, I admit that I’m starting to warm to this hire. Fox is a defensive head coach but he brings most of the other things that are necessary for the job. Perhaps the lesson that we can take away from last year under former head coach Marc Trestman is that those things are as important, if not more important, than getting a head coach who will be guaranteed to permanently fix the quarterback position. Ideally you’d like to have both. But ideally you’d like to it to be 75°F. Instead, for now, I guess we should be happy with what we can get. Everything is relative after all.

Reeling in the “Big Fish”? And Other Points of View


  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has started calling new general manager Ryan Pace “Harry Potter”. Very amusing.
  • Hub Arkush, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, uses flawed logic to discourage too much consideration of John Fox as the Bears head coach:

    “Most of what you hear is that with the youth and inexperience of general manager Ryan Pace, the Bears need an experienced hand with a proven track record in the coach’s spot to guide the team and help guide their young GM. That makes absolutely no sense.

    “If the Bears hired Pace thinking he wasn’t quite ready and needed a mentor to train him, then it’s a really bad hire.”

    “In what universe do employees teach and tell their bosses what to do?”

    No one that I have read or talked to has suggested that Fox be hired so that he can tell Pace what to do. His experience and advice would be valuable. That’s a completely different thing.

    “The most exciting thing about Pace’s arrival is his youth, the newness of everything around him and the clean break from all the frustrations of the last 25-plus years.

    “A coach who already has failed twice and was just fired casts a pall over all of that.”

    A. “the newness of everything around him and the clean break from all the frustrations of the last 25-plus years” has nothing to do with youth. It has to do with a hire who has had nothing to do with previous regimes. It has to do with fresh ideas. Pace’s youth does not excite me nor, I’m sure, does it excite many other people.

    B. Being fired twice does not equate with failing twice. Fox had ideas about how to “fix” a Bronco’s team that was already very successful that didn’t jib with John Elway‘s. The fact that Elway was looking for complete change is supported by the fact that he let the coaching staff go rather than promoting from within and keeping the staff. The guess here is that Elway wanted a fresh face to invigorate the team, something that Fox wouldn’t be able to bring after 4 years on the job no matter how good of a coach he was. That’s not “failure” in my book.

    “What’s going to happen the first time the young buck has to tell the wizened old coach he’s wrong and he’s going to do it his way?”

    “And what happens if that starts to happen a lot?”

    Probably nothing. The guess here is that Fox isn’t the kind of guy who won’t accept authority no matter who represents it but if he is, then he’s not the right hire for that reason, not because of the age difference.

    I dont’ see the same drawbacks to Fox that Arkush does. That’s not to say I don’t see any. Fox’s record is for success against what I consider to be weaker divisions without teams like the Packers. That concerns me. I’m not saying that Doug Marrone is the better hire but at least he’s had to compete with Bill Belichick.

  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune thinks Marrone is the wrong hire. That alone makes me wonder if he isn’t the right choice.
  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune summarizes what I consider to be the one significant argument for both Fox and Marrone:

    “Fox would be the Bears’ first coach with previous head coaching experience since George Halas re-hired himself in 1958. Since 1968, the organization has hired nine first-time coaches who combined for only one championship — Mike Ditka‘s 1985 team. Is that a meaningful pattern? Perhaps we’ll find out.”

    Yes, I think its meaningful. I think if you’ve got three guys on top of the organization who either aren’t football guys (George McCaskey and Ted Phillips) or have never hired a coach before (Pace), hiring someone with a concrete record to judge them by is probably the way to go about it. Hiring anyone else is really just a matter of gut instinct. Does anyone trust the instincts of any of those three, yet?

    Campbell goes on to do a good job of summarizing the arguments for and against Fox. It’s a better read than most.


One Final Thought

I find the media frenzy associated with the potential Fox hire amusing. This article from Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune is typical:

“Within a success-starved fan base that certainly has plenty of scar tissue still present from the [Dave] McGinnis episode [of the 1990’s] as well as a long stretch of relative irrelevance in the Super Bowl conversation, a fear factor had crept in. Could the Bears really let a big fish get away at such a critical time?”

I get it. It would be nice to have a coach with previous experience for once. And we’re all anxious to see a head coach hired as soon as possible. But we’re not talking about Bill Walsh here. As far as I’m concerned, I would be almost as comfortable with Marrone if Pace was. Fox has his share of negatives and its notable that no one else is or was interviewing him for their positions.

I’m not saying he’s the wrong choice. I’m fine with him. But “big fish” is quite an exaggeration.

Inside The Mind of Ryan Pace and Other Points of View


  • New Bears general manager Ryan Pace takes his first step on to the slippery slope that is quarterback Jay Cutler. Via the Chicago Tribune:

    “The quarterback obviously is a critical, critical position to achieve sustained success. But it’s not the only position. For us to have a lot of success, all 53 guys are going to be accounted for. So yeah, I witnessed things with Drew Brees that I have in my mind, that I know why he was successful. And those are ingrained in me. But I want to get to know Jay (Cutler). I want to get to know him further before I come to these conclusions.”

    You won’t really know him until he lets you down. And then its too damned late.

    Talk is cheap, Ryan. Watch the tape. Watch how he reacts when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys. That will tell you everything you need to know.

  • Michael C. Wright at ESPN.com definitively demonstrates the worthlessness of statistics. A blind man could see that Cutler’s are the result of a season where more of the passes were high percentage and where a great deal of scoring was in garbage time. Having said that, I’d love to see his passer rating for the first half only. Who wants to bet its in the bottom 7 or 8 in the league amongst starters?
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reads my mind when considering who the next Bears head coach might be:

    “Pace doesn’t have to seek outside input when it comes to former Bills coach Doug Marrone, who was the Saints offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008. A source described Pace and Marrone as ‘very close’ and it’s believed they have talked. Whether an interview has been scheduled yet is unknown.”

    Marrone’s got experience and by all accounts he had the Bills headed in the right direction. But he took the money and ran in Buffalo and the Bears don’t need another front-runner, especially running the team.

  • Maybe the Bears will target John Fox and maybe they won’t. Like Marrone, Fox is an experienced coach which would be a nice change. My guess is that he’d try to work around Cutler.Fox is by all accounts a winner and has the right personality. My only real problem with him is that, like almost all of the hot candidates, he comes from the defensive side of the ball. Its still all about the quarterback. But I’ll give Fox this. He’s shown multiple times that he can assemble a staff. He’d probably find the right coordinators if anyone can.
  • If you are looking for an encouraging sign, Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com has one for you in what he noticed from Pace in his first press conference:

    “When asked about the main qualities he looked for in a football player, Pace immediately and without hesitation listed character, toughness, instincts and intelligence.

    “That is a radical departure from Phil Emery’s infatuation with athletes.”

    Nowhere does this Emery weakness show up more than in his draft choices at linebacker where the players have been slow to react and, therefore, rarely managed to play down hill. By all accounts Pace should do better.

  • Anyone else thinking that free agent coach Jason Garrett might be a decent Bears head coach? He’s been moderately successful and might be ready to get out from under Jerry Jones‘s thumb to take the next step. Just spitballing…
  • Jen Lada at CSNChicago.com interviews Pace:

    “As an evaluator, you’ve seen the challenges that this franchise faces going forward. Is it difficult to compartmentalize or start to prioritize where to begin?”

    “It helps me if I go with a step-by-step approach. Really in my mind it’s head coach first step. Assess this roster thoroughly because that’s where mistakes are made. If you don’t assess your strengths and weaknesses on your own roster that’s not accurate, then your offseason plan will be inaccurate. So I need to make sure I assess the roster right and then go forward with an offseason plan, with our new head coach.”

    To me, this is a very revealing answer. That’s mostly because this is the way that I, myself, think. Pace likely has a very organized mind. In his head he has a list of things to do probably actually written down on paper. He writes things down as they occur to him (he says so later in the interview), orders them and probably has an ideal plan for getting them done including a loose schedule for each step. However, there are drawbacks. Because he’s a “step-by-step” guy he’s unlikely to be a multitasker and, because of that, things won’t always be done efficiently. Ideally you evaluate the roster while you are searching for a head coach. Pace sounds like the kind of person who is unlikely to do that. People like this frequently handle things well as long as they go as planned. The key to success is often how well they handle things when they don’t go as planned.

    How Pace handles the administrative details of the job (the few that are exposed via the media) will be very interesting to track.


One Final Thought

Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times on the process by which Pace was selected:

“We felt it was a really great fit. We loved his intensity. It was more about what he brought to the table than any negative on anybody else. They were all good.’

“For what it’s worth, Pace won the interview.”

For what its worth. I don’t know much about Pace but what I do know about him – his concrete history – doesn’t exactly ease my concerns about whether he’s qualified to run the Bears. I can’t get past the idea that the Bears have hired the next Josh McDaniels – a young coordinator who was made the head coach of the Broncos before he was ready and failed spectacularly because of that.

I’d be a lot happier if Pace was 47 not 37. I’d be a lot happier if he had experience seeing things done more than one way with one team. And I’d be a whole lot happier if he’d actually been a GM before, someone who had already made his mistakes and had time to gain perspective, look back and see where he went wrong.

There was a lot of talk in the papers about the Bears “breaking out of their mold” by choosing someone without a history with the organization. But that’s not the point. The Bears did what they’ve been doing for about 30 years now – chose a young, inexperienced candidate who has never done it before. Maybe its time to stop choosing the guys who just win the interview.

An Ironic Twist Makes Eric DeCosta a Likely GM Candidate

The most interesting name coming out of the Bears general manager search is Eric DeCosta of the Baltimore Ravens. DeCosta has shown little desire to leave his position with the Ravens and has turned down interview requests for GM jobs before. But I’m starting to think that the Bears might have a real shot at getting him to listen on their opening. Here’s why.

Most Bears fans remember the incident in 2011 draft when former Bears GM Jerry Angelo infamously botched a trade with the Ravens. Angelo promised the Ravens a fourth round pick if they would trade their 26th pick for the Bears 29th pick. But Angelo failed to properly inform the league.  The Ravens actually missed the 26th pick and ended up picking 27th.

Baltimore and Chicago both got the guys they wanted in the end (Baltimore picked Jimmy Smith and the Bears took Gabe Carimi). But neither Baltimore GM Ozzie Smith nor owner Steve Bisciotti was amused. Angelo refused to give the Ravens the fourth round pick that the Bears owed them and Bisciotti called upon the McCaskey family to force him to do it. Via Biggs, writing for the National Football Post at the time:

“‘I’m disappointed in the Bears and the McCaskeys,’ Bisciotti told Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun. ‘It is in my opinion a deviation from their great legacy. They concluded that their heartfelt and admirable apology was sufficient for our loss. All of us at the Ravens strongly disagree … probably end of story.'”

It was. But now it probably isn’t.

Baltimore had every right to be upset and the McCaskey’s couldn’t have seen that they deserved to get that pick any less clearly than I did. When Angelo was fired in 2012, via Dan Pompei, then at the Chicago Tribune, stuck out:

“‘It can’t be that he was fired for the performance of the team,’ said one AFC front-office man, who is not a friend of Angelo’s. ‘It has to be something else.'”

Who wants to bet that the quote came from the Ravens? They would know very well that the “something else” might very well have been Angelo paying the ultimate price for the trade fiasco (amongst others). It didn’t get them their pick back. But there had to be some satisfaction with the McCaskey’s acting in response to the injustice all the same.

So what’s the point? Though they were justifiably upset with the handling of the problem at the time DeCosta has to be looking at it now from a much different point of view. Few people would understand better than the members of the Ravens organization that the McCaskeys are going to do the right thing by their hires. Few people would understand better how firm the commitment to step back and allow you to do your job is. And few people would understand that they aren’t going to interfere, even when they don’t agree with you, better than DeCosta. That might make the Bears job different from the other’s that DeCosta has failed to interview for in the past.