Hey everyone, haven't written in a long time because of family, big work projects and school, coupled with lethargy from our nasty end of season collapse, but the Angelo dismissal should wake us all up. What does it really mean?
New GM: Are we going to start seeing the major changes we wanted to, or expected, or are we seeing what many feared last year, of Ruskell being groomed to take over for Angelo? Ruskell is no drafting stud. Its easy to say "he drove Seattle into the ground", as many are saying of Polian in Indy without Manning, but the reality is GMs don't get fired until bad seasons happen, and it doesn't make them bad GMs. For GMs, you have to look at trade history, potential and talent of the players on the roster, FA Acquisitions (are there any and were they smart at the time)...And willingness to commit to a Head Coach. I find organizations that flip Head Coaches based on 2-3 seasons of work, except in extreme circumstances, enter a vicious cycle of rotation (see St. Louis, Oakland). Who? Tim Ruskell (Shiver), Bill Polian (meh), and the nfl.com recommendations.
Head Coach: Whomever, whenever, the Bears will have a new GM, and generally speaking GMs get to pick their coaches. It was contentious when Angelo got stuck with Jaron, and it would be to stick a GM with Smith as well. I can see a "give him 1 year" type of attitude, but the Bears may limit their potential GMs giving that ultimatum to a new GM. Better off letting him make his own decisions. The other problem here is that if you have kept Smith and fired Angelo, you get rid of the "package deal" or "Monarchy" packages. Many despise the single point of failure structures that come with Head Coach/GM single entities, and I don't disagree, I am just talking options. There is a possibility that Smith won't be here next year, and who the new head coach would be strongly depends on who the GM is.
Offensive Coordinator: If Smith stays, Martz may still go. I cannot begin to guess who we'd get if Smith left, so let's go with the "he gets to stay" scenario and assume that OCs would consider the Bears in this lame duck scenario because they can consider it an audition for the HC spot under a new GM. Who? I think it has to be someone who runs either a run-based West Coast offense (Mike Shanahan style) or a scaled back Coryell offense (Martz, Norv Turner, Cam Cameron). Cutler knows both systems. The tricky thing here is familiarity. Heck, even Ron Turner technically ran a "Coryell" system, hard as that is to believe from a guy with no creativity and no passing. Getting an offense that can install quick that our line can block and Cutler knows is the 2 big pieces. I anticipate some receiver turnover anyway so that position group can learn, and RBs typically adjust fastest to new systems.
Rest of Staff: If Smith goes, they all go. If not, I anticipate the defensive staff staying in place, Tice potentially getting the OC job if Martz leaves, Toub maybe moving on if he gets a HC interview locked up, and hopefully the end of Drake the Impossible. It could be a very different looking staff in 2012 even if Smith stays.
Making an Impression: A new GM would have to recognize that what he has in the Bears is a defense ready to win now and an offense needing some dedicated work. If it was me, and it won't be, then I would realize the offense needs a couple veterans of quality and a stud playmaker to stay with the defense for 2012-2013...and that means FA and draft help. I know we need Corner, Safety, and Defensive End stability (outside of Tillman and Peppers) and have a short window on Linebackers, but if you want to win with Peppers, Urlacher, Briggs, and Tillman, you fix the offense and fix it fast then start thinking defense in 2013-2014. New GMs often have the freedom to make a splash, so what changes under a new GM, still Smith led team? Offensive Line and Wide Receiver need looks.
- Wide Receivers are a plenty in FA this year depending on what tags do or don't get issued. Reggie Wayne would add a wonderful veteran presence to our locker room, give Cutler a legit deep threat #1 target, but is a shorter term answer. Vincent Jackson is inconsistent but plays in a Coryell so he could fit in fast. Marques Colston is a great receiver with great body control. Dwayne Bowe is a red zone beast. These are all legitimate #1 receiver options for the 2012 and 2013 offensive window. There are a lot of other potential targets out there slated for FA at the moment, such as Pierre Garcon, Mario Manningham, and many more.
- Offensive Line options exist too. LT Demetrius Bell out of Buffalo is an underrated pass blocker and a hell of a run blocker. OGs Ben Grubbs or Carl Nicks could lock up one of Guard spots and stop the project rotation and Chris Myers out of Houston can play guard or center. I actually like Spencer at Center next year, but we will see. There are a ton of other less exciting prospects out there, too.
- Oh and Jermichael Finley and Fred Davis are slotted as FAs as well. Painful as it would be to bring in a new receiving TE after letting Olsen go, its a new GM and without Martz it could happen.
- If you think I forgot defense, I didn't. Defensive End help could come from Robert Mathis as a nice 2-3 year pair with Peppers, and Calais Campbell is a decent FA. Oh, by the way, Cliff Avrils is a Free Agent and a stud (and would be a theft from the Lions). Brent Grimes or Carlos Rodgers could lock up our Corner position opposite Tillman. Brandon Carr has a ton of potential and Terrell Thomas would be a solid #2. We won't solve Free Safety in free agency in 2012.
Draft: Its always important to get the best talent you can at each draft spot, excluding luxury picks (1st round QBs, RBs) when you already have a pro-bowler at the position. With that said, we could realistically look at almost any position in the 1st round and improve our roster. O-Line, Wide Receiver, 3rd Linebacker, Cornerback, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, Free Safety...Its sad, but true. We pick 19th. All things being equal, if you want my vote for GM of the year in replacing Angelo, you move up and get WR Justin Blackmon. I screamed for him last year until he decided to stay in school. He has burned and abused many a 1st and 2nd round corner from last years draft. I won't get into a huge draft analysis thing right now, because this post is long already.
Wrap-Up: What kind of shock waves will the post Angelo era come with? I can see a world where we have a GM from outside the current Bears organization, stick with Lovie Smith for one more year, promote Tice to OC for the time being, stick to a Coryell offense that is more power run based like the original Coryell and less "Martzy" (it was good enough to get us 26 points per game in 2011 prior to the Cutler injury). I can see that being run with Reggie Wayne and Justin Blackmon on the outside, and it makes my heart leap for joy. If not, I can see a lackluster 2012 campaign and a whole new staff with a conversion back to the West Coast Play Action system in 2013 as the defensive rebuild begins.