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Let us now take a moment to praise former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo.
So while Chicago loves to bash its general managers, past and present, perhaps fans should spend a bit of bye-week time acknowledging Angelo's contributions to the team's delightful 4-1 start, including Sunday's 41-3 victory over the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars.
Angelo is responsible for the vast majority of the current roster including Tillman and Briggs, who were brought in with second- and third-round draft picks in 2004.
Of course, there is also the fact that the Bears had two first-round picks that year and took Michael Haynes and Rex Grossman, but work with me here.
Just when Jacksonville was on the verge of putting up a late score in the second quarter and taking some momentum into halftime, there was Corey Wootton crashing through from the left end position for a strip sack. Wootton was drafted by Angelo in the fourth round in 2010.
Wait, I think strong safety Major Wright just recorded another tackle for loss. Wright was brought in with a third-round pick in 2010. He was the Bears' first pick that year. And his cohort in the back of the secondary, the sure-tackling Chris Conte, arrived in the same round a year later. They make for a dynamic duo.
Have you enjoyed the play of Henry Melton and Stephen Paea this year? The Bears' highly promising young interior linemen were drafted in the second- and fourth-rounds, respectively, in 2009 and 2011. Melton had played fullback in college but the Bears had a feeling he could make the transition to defensive line and they have been proven right.
And don't say Angelo was solid in the middle rounds but el busto in the early rounds when it really counts. Three of his last five top picks (Wright, Gabe Carimi and Greg Olsen) were either significant contributors on Sunday or were traded for a draft pick who became a significant contributor (Conte).
Actually the Olsen trade was sort of a double jackpot, contrary to conventional wisdom. The Bears had two third-round draft picks to trade for Brandon Marshall because one of them came from Carolina in exchange for Olsen. Not bad.
Oh, and it was Angelo who signed Julius Peppers.
Angelo also bequeathed a few key contributors on offense, including the best quarterback the franchise has had in 60 years, whom he traded for.
There's also return man extraordinaire and developing receiver Devin Hester (second round, 2006), who made the (diving) catch of the day on Sunday and also fought to secure the ball after a pass over the middle for a big third-down conversion in the third quarter.
And while rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery's swollen right hand will have two weeks to heal given the bye, the Bears also expect the rock-solid Earl Bennett (third round, 2008) to be ready to return from his injured left hand for the Bears' next game - a Monday night affair against Detroit at Soldier Field.
That'll do for now.
The coolest part of the whole game was the celebration when Tillman scored for the second time in two weeks. Even with a facemask partially obscuring his face, you could see the veteran cornerback's expression of genuine joy and wonder as he turned to meet his teammates in the back of the end zone. Tillman has excelled at takeaways during acareer that was highlighted last year by a trip to the Pro Bowl but he has never made the sorts of high-profile plays he has turned in the last two weeks.
And how about Michael Bush's spectacular hurdle of two Jaguar defenders on his way to a critical third-down conversion in the fourth quarter?
The man may be a power runner but there is an athleticism about him that is extraordinary at times.
Hey, current GM Phil Emery, nice signing!
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.
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