As a year of high expectations in Chicago melts into a third straight season of only 16 games, the calls will be intensifying for change.
It has been believed that the Bears won’t fire coach Lovie Smith or G.M. Jerry Angelo, due to a reluctance to buy out the balance of their contracts.
But that isn’t stopping folks from agitating for some calculating of future amounts owed. Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune makes the case for cutting ties with Smith and Angelo.
Apart from the dollar and cents, a case can be made for giving Smith and company more time to harness the skills of franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, who has thrown 17 interceptions in nine games as a Bear. But Cutler isn’t a first-round pick for whom the game has yet to “slow down”; he’s (supposedly) one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. A coaching staff with a Super Bowl appearance on its resume shouldn’t need two or three years to get the most out of Cutler.
And if Cutler’s performances in Denver were simply the result of stellar coaching and not the product of high-end skill, then why not bring in the guy who got the most out of Cutler?
Given that former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan possibly realizes his limitations as a personnel executive, there’s a chance that he’d be willing to coexist with Angelo, giving the Bears a way to minimize the total payout and to avoid the white-flag perception that comes from a full-blown house cleaning.
Of course, it likely will be far more expensive to pay Shanahan than to buy out Smith. But money can yield at times to ego. Though other teams might offer Shanahan a bigger contract, only one franchise gives him the chance to properly stick it to the Broncos for giving up on him, and then for trading away his prize protege.
Regardless of how it all turns out, we’ll all soon be hearing in our sleep the voices who were telling us four years ago of Detroit’s link to Jerome Bettis that Shanahan hails from Chicago.