This season is starting to make the Marc Trestman year not look so bad, and that is almost as amazing to me as President-elect Trump.
I was down on Lovie Smith at the end of his run because the team was trending downward and getting older. When they announced that the new Bears head coach would be a Grey Cup winner, I was a little dubious, but there were lots of hall of fame coaches and QBs who vouched for “the quarterback whisperer”.
After his first season, there were lots of excuses and explanations , but still some upside. Mid-way through the second season, we the fans were demanding an end to the systemic suckage, and Jay Cutler (when he got back from an injury) agreed. He played as though under protest.
To make it worse, Bruce Arians had been in the house, but had been so thrown by the interview process, he made himself available to the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve been doing pretty well since he got there.
So, in a rare move, the Bears hired a coach with some previous experience; although having been fired after getting his previous team pretty deep in the playoffs should have been enough of an insight. In retrospect, it might have been Adam Gase making the magic happen. While he was the O.C. here in Chicago, amid even more tumult, the Bears looked like they might eventually, finally, steer the ship back on course. He’s in Miami now (and they’re winning a lot), but he was interviewed to be the Bears head coach at a point, too.
And so, we now have a guy who got two teams close to contention but then got fired before winning a Super Bowl. There’s a case to be made that his best coaching quality is aligning himself with excellent coordinators. The defensive coordinator is a known commodity, and the offensive coordinator is probably more a Jay Cutler requirement than a John Fox padawan.
There’s been a slew of injuries (conditioning issue?), but more condemning is that there are two players sitting out for a significant number of games for failing drug tests. I’m not sure if this is a team getting caught trying to get ahead by any means necessary, a coach not making his policy clear, or just a coincidence of the worst kind.
Regardless, I’m done with the Fox era. Was done with the Smith era after 7 years, done with Trestman after one year, and done with Fox after 1 year and 2 games (refer to this Pre-Postmortem).
What seems like the obvious answer is a regime change. There are a few recent examples to draw from, locally: the Blackhawks went from near obscurity to the top of the mountain in a sustainable way with excellent scouting/talent acquisition and strong leadership when Bill Wirtz passed and his son took the reigns. The Chicago Cubs won their first world series in 108 years and look poised to get another one or two before they’re done by gutting the entire system, stockpiling high-quality players, and putting the correct leadership in place. The Tribune company came close, but the Ricketts family got there just a few years after buying the team.
Virginia McCaskey has stated that she will not sell the team. It’s hard to guess what her sons will do after she’s gone, but they and their current cast are not getting the job done, so if they keep control, I hope they clean house.
In the meantime, I’m not holding my breath for a playoff berth, and I’m not making noon on Sunday a priority.