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SportsMonday: Get To Work, Bears

"Just fire everyone" doesn't cut it - especially when the current coaching regime is only two years into its run after the last regime lasted only two years.

Making that move can be satisfying at the time, but if a football team does it too frequently we all know it quickly heads into Cleveland Browns territory, or even worse at this point, San Francisco (congratulations to legacy owner monstrosity Jed York for spending the last two years obliterating what made the Niners one of the league's proudest franchises).

And yes, the Bears are awfully close to a laughingstock as well at this point. But it makes the most sense to hang in there for another season with a general manager who had a great draft last year and a coach who, while suffering through a historically bad season this year capped off by Sunday's 38-10 loss at the Vikings, at least didn't allow his team to become an embarrassment like Marc Trestman did in 2014.

Then again, how can the Bears think it is the right call to wait until Wednesday to hold their official post-mortem on this historically bad season?

Team executives should have been way more accountable to the fans the last several months. Instead, chicken general manager Ryan Pace's refusal to be interviewed by non-friendly media all season long lowlighted a truly weak performance. Now you make the folks who pay for it all wait two more days? Come on!

Three weeks ago, I believed that no way should John Fox stay if he couldn't find a way to make it work with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. There have been rumors that Fox wants the previously successful designer of NFL defenses gone sooner rather than later and maybe they will spend some of the next two days trying to patch things up.

But Fangio hasn't had a good last couple weeks. First he questioned cornerback Kyle Fuller's toughness, potentially doing serious damage to Fuller's career, despite the fact that he knew Fuller wouldn't be able to defend himself due to the team's policy of not allowing injured players to talk to the media (a confident team doesn't have this policy by the way - a paranoid one certainly does).

Fuller may indeed be soft. But Fangio should have figured out by now that team doctors are far from infallible and just because they tell you Fuller is good enough to play it doesn't guarantee he is. Anyone who questions the severity of an athlete's injury risks making a fool of themselves.

Then, in the game against the Washington Racial Slur the Sunday before last, Leonard Floyd almost certainly suffered a concussion almost 20 plays before he finally came out of the game. Last week Fangio claimed Floyd didn't suffer the injury until later but the video evidence is damning.

It is still the right call to keep Fangio and believe he can overcome his recent struggles. It was clear the defense was improving, especially late in the season, until the injuries became completely overwhelming. The new normal in the NFL is that a team has to have a decent second team and even a few competent members of a third team to be competitive. The Bears had some depth but not enough to survive so many season-ending injuries to key contributors.

And what the hey, the best thing that could have happened to the Bears after they fell out of contention happened. They stayed competitive until the last two weeks and still finished with a bad enough record (3-13) to draft third in this spring's NFL draft.

One thing Fox should do on Wednesday is say something along the lines of, "We have not identified who will start for us at quarterback next season and we probably won't do so until at least a few weeks into next season's training camp." He won't say it but of course we all better know that that starting quarterback won't be Jay Cutler. The team will try to trade him but Cutler will probably end up cut.

Now, if the Bears then go into the offseason and make a trade for Tony Romo, of course we know he will be the starter. Romo seems a more likely possibility than New England's Jimmy Garoppolo, who will demand a king's ransom in draft picks in return. But if neither of them happen, a training camp battle between Matt Barkley, Connor Shaw and a rookie to be named later in the second or third round will be fine.

Get to work, Bears! You are all lucky to have your jobs, even you McCaskeys!


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Posted on Oct 22, 2021