By Tyler Coppock
“I’m very confident. We’ve seen a lot of Caleb over his time here.” Those were Jerry Angelo’s words four days after Jay Cutler’s season-ending thumb injury. Two months later, it was that sentiment that ended up costing Jerry Anglo his job.
the NFL, more then any other league, is a “what have you done for me lately” profession. In 2010 Chiefs Coach Todd Haley and Buccaneers Coach Raheem Morris were being hailed as two of the best young coaches in the league. Each of them had disappointing campaigns in 2011 and were sent packing by their respective franchises.
In 2010 Julius Peppers was lured to Chicago by Jerry Angelo. Peppers’ presence made the defense a force and led the Bears to a division title. But a freak injury, and a disasterous end to the season led to heads rolling at Halas Hall.
For Jerry Angelo’s decade-long tenure in Chicago he was as polarizing as any sports figure in Chicago. Under Angelo the Bears won four-division titles, one-conference title and regained a degree of respectability that had disappeared in the dark ages post Mike Ditka.
Angelo wasn’t perfect. No General Manager is. He drafted defensive end Michael Haines two spots ahead of Troy Polamalu. He neglected the offensive line for years and never brought in the number one receiver Bears fans scream for every off-season.
But Angelo also had hits. Big ones. He drafted Matt Forte and Devin Hester in the second round. He drafted Tommie Harris who, before he tore his hamstring, was the arguable the best defensive tackle in the NFL. He acquired a franchise quarterback. He passed on hiring Nick Saban and instead hired Lovie Smith. Say what you want about Smith, but he is 71-57 as coach and NFL teams hire worse coaches every season.
Firing Angelo can certainly be justified. Because of Angelo the offensive line is still in shambles. Too many high draft picks resulted in first-round busts.
Instead, Angelo made his names as a vulture in the late rounds. Drafting relative unknowns like former running back turned defensive tackle Henry Melton and turning them into starters.
If the Bears wanted to fire Angelo, they should have cleaned house entirely. Instead, they fired
Angelo and insisted the next GM couldn’t pick his own coach. Phil Emery, the new Bears General Manager, already has his hands tied behind his back only 24 hours into the job.
The Bears were 7-3 last season before Jay Cutler tore a ligament in the thumb of his throwing hand. They were getting consideration as a team in the NFC that could challenge Green Bay for the conference title. The Bears were a football team built to win. Then their most important player got injured.
Angelo should have been given one more season to go all in for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Pro Bowl wide receivers like Vincent Jackson and Dwayne Bowe are available. Carl Nicks, a 26-year old guard and 2 time Pro Bowler looks like he is on the wait out in New Orleans.
Phil Emery will be given the keys
to the vault from the McCaskeys during free agency. Why not just give Angelo the same freedom?
The Bears are worse now then the the days after the season when Angelo was still in charge. No team making front office changes should ever make themselves worse then they were before. That’s Chicago sports for you.