The Chicago Bears were a pretty average football team during the Jerry Angelo- Lovie Smith regime, consistently ranking in the middle of the pack from a statistical and win/loss perspective each year. Sure, they had a few peaks and valleys, but for the most part, Angelo was an average general manager, Smith an average head coach, and the team had an average roster.
When the McCaskeys decided to make a change in 2012, they let Angelo go and brought in renowned talent scout Phil Emery to head up the football operation. The McCaskeys were familiar with Emery, who had previously worked for the Bears as a scout from 1998- 2004, and in 2012, they decided to hire him as their next general manager.
Of course, that led to an abysmal series of events, coaching hires, and drafts, which in turn created an historically bad three seasons of Chicago Bears football.
Fast-forward to the current regime: Ryan Pace was hired as the next GM, and widely respected around league circles as an up-and-coming star in the National Football League. His hire of John Fox as head coach was a no-brainer, and they quickly went to work in rebuilding a roster and culture that the previous regime had left for dead.
A couple of impressive drafts, free agent acquisitions, and coaching hires, and the Bears were seemingly being set up for success for 2016. But the worst-case scenario happened right at the outset of the season, when injuries to key players started rolling in en masse.
Currently, the Bears are sitting at 1-6 on the season, and seem to have digressed from a season ago where they were at least competitive in many of their losses.
Things have gotten so bad that the McCaskeys have brought in outside consulting to evaluate John Fox and the entire football operation.
With the franchise heading in the wrong direction, the team's brass has begun a full examination of the football operation from top to bottom, according to several sources briefed of their process.
They've tapped what is being described as an outside consultant to help.
At 1-6, everything is up for review. It's clear Fox's footing beyond 2016 is shaky. As for the front office and general manager Ryan Pace, the current view from inside is that two years is far too quick to judge those tabbed with acquiring talent, especially with the 2016 draft class showing flashes of being a strong one.
Fox has two more years left on a four-year deal, while Pace has three years left on a five-year deal -- both fully guaranteed.
While the Bears get set to play the Vikings on Monday, sources say there were some intense meetings this week in Chicago involving members of the front office and some coaches. It is clear everyone is not on the same page.
They'll start a quarterback in Jay Cutler on Monday that the front office and Fox clearly aren't including in their future plans. In fact, they kept him away from practice as Brian Hoyer started, clearing him right after Hoyer's injury. Grudgingly, Cutler is now back under center, knowing this organization has tried to trade him in the past.
How much blame should Fox get for the current state of affairs? The roster was solid at the start of the season, but when the injury bug hit, the roster was suddenly exposed as one with a lack of depth in nearly every area, on both sides of the football. Had injuries not occurred, the team would have competed with every team on their schedule, but when you suddenly have guys playing that otherwise would never be starting for an NFL team, you’re going to have issues.
Not to say that Fox is totally off the hook— he’s had several clock management issues this season, has a team that is committing excessive penalties this season, and has made some questionable personnel decisions along the way.
Ryan Pace is ultimately responsible for the roster. On one hand, he’s acquired some solid talent on both sides of the football, and made a lot of progress in two short years. There are some young guys on the roster who have been thrust into action too soon, but who the Bears should be excited about in coming years.
But the roster is also too thin at over a dozen positions, which is also Pace’s responsibility.
It’s hard to assign blame when injuries have piled up so badly... But is that the only reason the Bears are losing this season? That’s up to the consultant to decide.