January 03, 2012
Just one day after Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay fired both Bill and Chris Polian in a mammoth organizational shake-up, the Chicago Bears announced via statement that they have fired general manager Jerry Angelo.
Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips informed Jerry Angelo this morning he will not return as the team's general manager for the 2012 season. Angelo was hired in 2001 and led the team to four division titles, two NFC Championship game appearances and a Super Bowl appearance in his 11-year tenure as the head of the Bears football operations.
The team will hold a press conference at Halas Hall on Tuesday afternoon. According to the Bears' official website, "[Head coach] Lovie Smith will remain as head coach and will continue to evaluate his coaching staff."
The decision might be controversial in some circles because one of the NFC championship games the Bears played in through Angelo's tenure happened in January of 2011, but a longer look at the organizational structure indicates that the Bears may have been on a downhill slide in several areas. The addition of offensive coordinator Mike Martz to offensive line coach Mike Tice provided little protection for quarterback Jay Cutler and the quarterbacks who replaced him after Cutler was lost for the 2011 season with a thumb injury. Martz's strange protection ideas combined with Tice's odd practice of not installing advanced protections in the preseason led to breakdowns all over the offense.
And for all the talk of the firepower that was supposed to come along with Martz, the Bears' offense fell apart when Cutler and running back Matt Forte were hurt. That's understandable to a degree, but the lack of depth along the roster points to the larger issue with Angelo -- that just as the Polians eventually paid for a series of bad drafts with their jobs, Angelo's professional "tombstone" in Chicago will be engraved with the last five drafts.
From 2007 through 2011, the Bears got questionable returns from those drafts. Outside of Forte and Johnny Knox, it could be argued that the best player Angelo drafted was tight end Greg Olsen, who is now in Carolina, in part, because Martz doesn't know what to do with tight ends who don't block all the time and weigh 280 pounds. Now, the trade with the Denver Broncos for Cutler certainly paid dividends, but in giving up two first-round picks, Angelo admitted failure in a way — a more adept executive might have held on to Kyle Orton, used one first-round pick to regenerate the quarterback position, and used another to help with depth elsewhere.
The acquisition of receiver Sam Hurd may have been another reason for Angelo's dismissal. The former Dallas Cowboys receiver signed a three-year, $5.1 million contract with the Bears on July 29, 2011 -- right about the time that Homeland Security was starting to set Hurd up in an undercover operation that eventually revealed that Hurd was distributing huge amounts of illegal drugs.
The Bears' open position should be a highly coveted one, and one name you might hear is that of Reggie McKenzie, the Green Bay Packers' director of football operations. McKenzie's name is one that has gained a lot of traction for any GM openings.
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