I was among the WCG masses who took to the blog celebrating and metaphorically dancing in the streets upon news that Jerry Angelo had been fired. It's over! There is hope, there will be change, I thought, George McCaskey has done just as I hoped he would; start to erase the wounds of the last 25 years that begin with the dismantling of the champion '85 team and eventually led us into the dark age of the '90s. Sure things have picked up in the last 11 years, but as many on here won't let you forget, the Bears still tread in the mediocre waters of the NFL teams; better than a doormat but not an annual contender.
But as excited as I was, in the days since my excitement has turned to reservation. I will explain why there is reason for hope and reason to worry about the future of the Chicago Bears front office.The shortest and best explanation I have is summed up with one name; Ted Phillips.
Phillips, as most know, is actually an accountant by trade, he isn't a so-called "football guy" and many fans and media have questioned his knowledge and understanding of the sports management side of things because of this. I know that "bean counters" are very important in any business, but is this the type of guy who should be tasked with hiring the man who will shape the roster or our beloved team?
I'm not saying he can't do it, but he's never done it either, Jerry Angelo, Phillips' first GM "hire" was actually found by a search firm and then approved by Phillips. Phillips got the credit for what was esstentially done by a consulting firm. Nothing wrong with that in some sense, because many corporations use so-called "head-hunting" firms to find the best candidates available for the positions.
When George McCaskey took over a year ago as the chairman for the team I held out some hope, I thought all right, new leadership, a guy who has actually grown up as a part of the organization, who has been around the team a long time, this guy has seen it all and will know what he likes and doesn't like.
Recently in sports, including Chicago, we've seen a new generation of owners/front office take over once-fledgling franchises and turn them into winners; Michael Bidwell who took over the Arizona Cardnials for his father Bill, Jim Irsay, who took over the Colts from his father, the Baltimore hated and notorious tyrant, Robert and in Chicago, where Rocky Wirtz took over the Blackhawks from "Dollar" Bill Wirtz, the legendarily cheap owner who wouldn't even televise games and cut ties with some of the most important players in the franchises storied history.
These guys all took over teams from owners who were known for counting money over wins and whose leadership and motives were questioned by fans and media alike. They brought new ideas and brought winning ways back to teams who were doormats and considered some of the worst run in all of sports.
I thought, well, maybe that is how George McCaskey will be. Take over for the McCaskey generation who inherited the team and who weren't necessairly raised on football and groomed to be NFL leadership. A new generation will come in and turn things around.
I was close.
McCaskey has begun to make his mark on the front office of the Bears by removing Angelo. Great, I think the team will be better for it, however there are two issues I still have; 1) Phillips is still in charge and 2) Lovie gets a say in the process! If you want to make your way known, if you want to begin your era so-to-speak why not cut off the snake at it's head?
Phillips brought in Angelo, Angelo brought in Lovie. I like Lovie and I think he has been somewhat hamstrung by the talent JA put on the field for him, keep Lovie, I'm fine with that. What I take issue with is leaving Phillips in charge, who really hasn't shown he can bring in good people and lead this organization where it needs to go.
Phillips is likely to hire someone who is closer to the old McCaskey family and closer to Angelo than someone who will bring in new ideas and direction. Lovie is likely to approve someone who is Angelo-like and therefore likely to let Lovie keep his job.
T.J. Shouse brought up this point a few weeks ago in his now-pointless (no offense T.J. it was a good read but none of us saw the JA thing coming) post "...Angelo's Coming Back Next Year, and That's Okay" Shouse wrote:
My professional experience includes getting interviewed by Human Resources at my old job (college coach) during an Athletic Director search to identify what I wanted to see from the search. I essentially said, "We need outside candidates to interview to compare to our interior promotion candidates, and give the best candidate the job." What'd they do? Hired the baseball coach/assistant A.D. with a drinking problem. Why, because they are institutionally flawed and want people in place they can control, not someone who could potentially upset the apple cart by bringing in new ideas or setting higher goals; its classic "keep the status quo" versus "take a chance" mentality in business or sport.
To me this is basically what we get with Phillips. Maybe Ruskell is out and that's fine, but we'll still have the "status-quo" so-to-speak of Phillips finding someone in a similar mold to JA than someone completely different. Lovie is going to want to approve of someone who will let him carry on as he has; bring in cronies from his Tampa and St. Louis days, keep the revolving door at DL and safety, etc. Lovie will want someone who isn't likely to oust him after a season or two.
I want someone from the outside with different ideas; enough to give Lovie a fair chance (not like the whol Eric Mangini-Mike Holmgren deal in Cleveland) but who isn't afraid to shake up Halas Hall.
I just can't see Phillips and/or Lovie doing that. If George McCaskey wants to change things up and leave his own mark, start with giving Phillips a pink slip.