The Bears are at it again.
Head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are out. Chairman George McCaskey is not going anywhere, though.
That's two out of three for the people making and buying those ``Fire Everyone’’ T shirts, which come in the familiar orange and blue of Da Bears.
I don’t necessarily applaud. Change was very much needed. But when you think back about the hopefulness when Nagy and Pace arrived, it’s a sorry situation.
I sigh in sympathy with my many frustrated friends who root for the Bears.
The thing is, they didn’t ``fire everyone.’’ Because owners don’t get fired.
Here’s hoping that McCaskey, grandson of NFL founding father George Halas, gets it right this time.
History says, though, that he won’t.
Because when it comes to picking GMs and coaches, the McCaskeys have not had much success.
When they have picked the occasional winner, it has seemed more like an accident than a plan.
Even the great Papa Bear was not all that great at picking coaches.
I have always thought Halas deprived the Bears of multiple championships, and locked the Bears into their game plan for mediocrity, when he missed the boat on George Allen in the ’60s.
Allen was a Bears assistant before he went on to revive the Rams and Redskins. He not only was the defensive guru of the team that won the 1963 championship with defense. He also headed up the draft that came up with Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers two years later.
Has anybody ever had a better one-two draft than that?
While it’s true that Allen did some end-around maneuvers when he left Chicago for the Rams, if Halas really had been bent on winning, he would have figured out a way to turn over the reins to Allen.
Instead, he wound up anointing Jim Dooley. Remember him? Probably not.
I remember this vividly because I was a young and dedicated Bears fan back then. Also, George Allen’s son, George, was a friend and classmate of mine when a lot of this was going on.
In 1963, when we were in the sixth grade together, we found out at the end of our lunch recess that President Kennedy had been shot.
In the Christmas pageant, our teacher put us in a sketch, ``If Santa Claus came to Moscow.'' George played the dad, and I played the son. Our Russian accents weren't very good, but we had a lot of fun with them.
And oh yeah, George's dad was helping the Bears win an NFL championship.
There’s a great passage in America’s Game, Michael McCambridge’s fascinating history of the NFL, about an owners’ meeting where Halas, who had filed suit to keep Allen in Chicago, talked about not blaming Rams owner Dan Reeves.
``Turning to Dan Reeves, Halas said, `What Dan Reeves did to me has been settled between us. We’ve made our peace. But as for George Allen—George Allen is a liar! George Allen is a cheat! George Allen is full of chicanery!’ At which point [Vince] Lombardi turned to Reeves and whispered loudly, `Dan, it sounds like you’ve got yourself a helluva head coach.’ ’’
I would advise George McCaskey to find a George Allen—preferably two of them. One to be GM and one to be Head Coach.
I say this knowing that the Bears won’t do that.
When Nagy went 12-4 in his first year, things looked promising, despite the double-doink clunker of a playoff loss. They had a good looking defense. A talented young QB, Mitch Trubisky, who was learning on the job from a head coach who supposedly knew how to groom QBs.
Ryan Pace, who seemed to be a boy-wonder GM, seemed to be the right guy.
That 12-4 was fool's gold—just enough success to make Bears fans think their heroes were on the right track.
And now they're back to Square One. Again.
I am not sure why some franchises get it right time after time—and why others don’t. But I suspect it has something to do with being smart and committed.
What you really want to know, of course, is who will be the Bears’ next GM and coach.
Whomever the McCaskeys anoint, it will take time. And shrewd decisive planning and decision-making. And, yes, luck.
The Bears have not been blessed with an abundance of those qualities.
I will say this. . . Along with many accomplished NFL coordinators, Bears writers are mentioning college coaches such as the Ohio State/Michigan tandem of Ryan Day and Jim Harbaugh as potential candidates. Both have solid NFL backgrounds. Day had great success with Justin Fields. Harbaugh was a hard-nosed Bear quarterback in the mold of Mike Ditka.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who supposedly would only be tempted by his hometown Bears, also is being mentioned.
I doubt the Bears will go this way. And given the track record of college coaches in the NFL, I would not advise them to go this way. Heck, Nick Saban went running back to college football after a brief stint with the Dolphins.
No matter who ends up coaching the Bears, the key will be. . . having a general manager who gives him the right players.
Because for all of the attention focused on the coaches who have failed to make the Bears a winner, the key to winning is figuring out how to build a roster of players who can win.