Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Leave for a Few Months and Everything Goes To Hell

Hello again, internet.

You may have missed me. There's only so much a man can take, really. I spent a hell of a lot of time and far too many words defending Jay Cutler and the Bears before this last season to be able to grin and bear their injury-induced collapse. I'll give the New York Giants all of the credit in the world (having a pass rush like that in a league that's rapidly becoming a pass-only collective is a solid strategy), but looking at the NFL's final four this year it was hard to stomach the fact that the Bears as they were playing before the Cutler injury undoubtedly had one of the best shots they've ever had in my lifetime of making a title run. I'm always going to feel cheated, and I hope you'll forgive me for failing miserably at recapping a series of Caleb Hanie-led debacles.

What could I have said, honestly? The Bears lost their first three games without Cutler despite surrendering a whopping total of three touchdowns. You can criticize people for saying "if x would have happened they'd have won" (and I frequently do), but if you don't think that Bears team makes the playoffs with a full season of Jay Cutler, well, you're a moron.

The only thing I really have left to say on the actual games at the end of the season is this: loyal SKO reader Apex and I attended the Seahawks game together (thanks to his generously offered ticket), and I had a grand old time even if it was a total flop. Thanks, Pex. You're good people.

So let's bring everything up to today. Jerry Angelo, finally, wound up on the firing line. You can scroll back through the archives of this site to find plenty of words expressing my feelings on Jerry. He was never the completely inept boob that most meatballs portrayed him to be. He had definite strengths as a general manager. He could find some great talent (on the defensive side of the ball, at least) hidden in late rounds of the draft. He deserves a great deal of credit for resurrecting this franchise, because, let's face it, if you don't think the team was better off in the Angelo Era than in the McCaskey/Graves/Hatley era, you obviously weren't a Bears fan then. Or you've been attacked with brain slugs, and my heart goes out to you.

The problem with Jerry was a simple matter of time. I think new Cubs wunderkind Theo Epstein said it best: there's a shelf life on GM jobs. Jerry had 11 years to win a title and he didn't do it. His teams were continually weak in areas that Jerry didn't value enough to invest resources in, the offensive line and the wide receiver corps, and it was obvious by now that his philosophy was never going to change. I wish him well, and I'm glad he's gone.

As for Phil Emery? I know absolutely nothing about him. Few people do. He seems like a safe hire, one that can tolerate his inherited head coach and the absurd two-headed OC monster (I've seen college programs try this before. It rarely works, and the Bears are not Boise fucking State. It was a good move to get Jeremy Bates as the QB coach/passing game coordinator). Does this make him a bad hire? Not necessarily. I'd love to pass myself off as having some kind of actual input on Emery, but I don't. If he doesn't address the wide receiver issue in the draft or with what's shaping up to be a potentially promising free agent class he'll have lost me right off the bat. He's already got one strike on him, since, as loyal SKO reader TEC noted, Frank Fucking Omiyale is still on the roster. Again, I agree that a change was necessary. We'll see if this is anything more than a lateral move.

As for Lovie Smith, I don't disagree with keeping him, for one more year at least. This team's gone too far down one road to totally rebuild yet, and they're too devoted to Lovie's system to try and switch schemes and still contend. If he fails again next year, his players on defense will be old enough to force a rebuild anyway and it'll be easy to throw Lovie overboard.

I certainly wasn't sad to say goodbye to Mike Martz. To his credit, he helped fix many of the fundamental flaws in Jay's mechanics, and I truly believe Jay become a better quarterback under Martz.Jay will also be in a much better position to succeed without him.

As for the players on the field, well, at some point I hope to get to another position by position review. I'll only say for now that I can't wait to see Cutler healthy and back on the field, and that I wish Johnny Knox a speedy recovery, even though it appears he may not play this season. That was a terrifying injury. The story of the 2011 Bears, sadly.

That's all for now. I'll be back.