Why can’t the Bears get this right?
That’s a broad question, and if you thought ‘‘this’’ referred to ‘‘the whole playing football thing,’’ I apologize. I’m referring to the Bears’ failure to get the head-coaching position right, to their complete inability to find a person with enough brains, experience and leadership to win a Super Bowl.
You would think through sheer dumb luck in the last 32 years, they would have found a coach who could bring them a consistent winner. Who could, if it wasn’t asking too much (though it apparently was), bring them their first championship since 1985.
Ted Phillips (left), the Bears' president and chief executive officer, and team chairman George McCaskey listen to Ryan Pace, their new general manager, talk to the media at Halas Hall in 2015. (Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times)
Instead, since Mike Ditka’s firing after the 1992 season, Bears fans have been subjected to Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman and John Fox.
Team chairman George McCaskey, a grandson of George Halas, has lived and breathed football since entering this world. You would think some of that would have paid off in a tangible way. You would think, as he went about the business of living, he might have tripped across a Bill Belichick. You would think his brother Michael, who was chairman until 2011, would have. Not even close.
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Tom Ricketts didn’t know much about baseball when he bought the Cubs in 2009, but he knew enough to identify Theo Epstein as someone he’d like to hire to run the organization. Helping him in this identification process was Epstein’s two World Series titles as general manager of the Red Sox.
When the Bears were looking for a GM in 2001, they hired a search firm to help them in the process. After six weeks, the search firm found Jerry Angelo in Tampa. He must have done a good job of hiding. He had been in the Bears’ division for the previous 14 seasons.
When the Bears were looking for a new GM and a head coach after the 2014 season, they hired 73-year-old Ernie Accorsi as a consultant. With his finger on the pulse of the league, Accorsi recommended Ryan Pace as GM and Fox as coach. The Bears are 12-29 since.
How is it that your family business is football and that most of your life has been devoted emotionally or professionally to the Bears, yet over the course of three decades you still can’t identify the right person to turn the franchise into a winner? It boggles the mind.
The McCaskeys shouldn’t have to hire consultants to know whom to hire. They should just know. Through osmosis, they should know.
I don’t know how much input Bears president and chief executive officer Ted Phillips has in picking the head coach or the GM, but he’s always near the lectern when the choice is announced at a news conference. Whatever his role, the same goes for him: You’ve been at this most of your adult life, and you can’t steer the McCaskeys in the right direction? You help lead them to Trestman? To Phil Emery as GM? You hire a consultant who leads you to Fox? Amazing, but not really. You’re an honorary McCaskey.
In 2013, the Bears passed over Bruce Arians to hire Trestman, a Canadian Football League coach. Arians became the Cardinals’ head coach and has gone 45-27-1 since. Trestman was gone after two seasons and a 13-19 record.
I thought Fox was a good hire when the Bears turned to him. He had been to the Super Bowl as a head coach with two teams. He had turned around several franchises. But from the beginning of his tenure with the Bears, he looked as though he was running on fumes as a coach. Maybe he always had the demeanor of the relative who eats too much at Thanksgiving and falls asleep in a recliner. But it doesn’t play well when the losses start piling up. And they’re piling up.
After a horrible loss Sunday to the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers and another Bears season going down the drain, it’s clear another coaching change will be necessary.
It’s time for George McCaskey to stand up and tell his people: ‘‘We’re done with hiring coordinators or drowsy people as our head coach. We’re done being cheap. Let’s go get Nick Saban. Or Jim Harbaugh. Or Jon Gruden. We have too much invested in Mitch Trubisky to blow this. It’s time to win.’’
It’s also time for me to win the Powerball drawing.
Somebody once recognized that, underneath the layers of aloofness, there was something special about Belichick. The Bears repeatedly have shown they don’t have the ability to identify young coaching talent. That’s why they need to go out and hire someone who already is a star. They need to open their wallet.
There’s something fundamentally wrong with this organization. The Cubs always could fall back on a stupid curse to explain their failures. The Bears have only their ineptness to blame. Time for a different way. Time to think bigger.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.
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