GM plans, Week 2: Bears in no hurry

GM plans, Week 2: Bears in no hurry
January 9, 2012, 5:45 am
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The search for a successor to general manager Jerry Angelo moves into its second week, with the Bears yet to formally interview anyone. It would be a mistake, however, to equate lack of action with lack of a plan.

One perspective on what the Bears are doing, and not doing, is a case of them having Plan B in place and methodically going about Plan A. Consider:

Stereotyping and all kidding aside, the Bears have typically made major moves quickly, if not always the right moves. They have consistently gone after their biggest personnel targets Erik Kramer, Bryan Cox, Mushin Muhammad, Julius Peppers, even the trade for Jay Cutler, even Chester Taylor aggressively and fast.

And when Dave Wannstedt was the hot coaching candidate of 1993, Michael McCaskey out-bid and out-hustled the New York Giants for him.

The point is, a couple actually Reggie McKenzie, Eric DeCosta and even Les Snead in Atlanta were at the top of the Bears list, and they never got in the hunt for DeCosta and McKenzie. The obvious conclusion is that they were not inclined to be rushed into a move.

Ted Phillips was part of the organization through all of those moves from Kramer to Wannstedt to Peppers.

It is unlikely that he has suddenly gone sluggish, unless theres a reason.

Plan B: Ruskell?

The reason may be as simple as having a Plan B with which they are at least OK: Tim Ruskell in place as director of player personnel. Ruskells record at Tampa Bay and Seattle are open to question; thats for another time. And the fact that he was brought in by Angelo wouldnt normally be a positive for his chances.

But the Bears arguably are in a very tight spot, because Ruskell was hired as a de facto consolidation of the pro personnel and college scouting jobs. So with Angelo gone, the Bears are beyond bare bones in their personnel area.

That, in a win-or-else year possibly for Lovie Smith and more, is very, very tight staffing.

Ruskell at least has the relationships and organization under him in place.

And one more plus for Ruskell (and for Angelo, indirectly and irrelevantly): The top three picks of the 2011 draft -- Gabe Carimi, Stephen Paea and Chris Conte were all impact players as rookies, injuries aside. Not since the 2004 draft have the top three picks Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Bernard Berrian, plus Nathan Vasher looked as promising.

And one other scenario suggests itself: If the Bears stay with Ruskell and Smith, and the 2012 season blows up, they are in a contractual position to make sweeping changes, beginning at the top of their football operations.

Then, with contracts like Cutlers, Devin Hesters, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlachers and others expiring or within a year of expiration, they perhaps commence with a total rebuilding.

Divining exact intentions and plans at Halas Hall has rarely been easy. But those plans, likely more than one, are very clearly in place.