Angelo: No decision on Lovie's long-term future

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Angelo: No decision on Lovie's long-term future

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
2:28 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The inescapable other shoe that comes to mind when word of Miami offering Jim Harbaugh 8 million to coach the Dolphins is whether or not that will drive the Bears to get a contract extension done with Lovie Smith before the bar for coaches who actually have done something in the NFL spirals upwards on the Bears.

General Manager Jerry Angelo and the Bears aren't going to be rushed. Angelo isnt ruling out adding years to the one more Smith has on his deal, but Smith already is at 5.5 million and the Bears arent desperate, like the Miami Dolphins are.

Desperateness drives people to do things they maybe normally wouldnt have done, Angelo said Thursday. Its a supply and demand business but we dont let that rule our thinking. We can only look at what we do, our parameters, how we build and how we go forward with our philosophy...

Well have a plan in place when the time comes.

But the specter of a work stoppage has frozen some teams planning, it was a factor in Smith being brought back for the 2010 season, and the Bears simply have no reason in the current market to extend a contract already in the upper echelon of coaching salaries.

After describing the current Bears team as not the most talented but the best team hes had, Angelo put on hold any public declaration of direction with respect to Smiths situation.

That is understandable and the right course. Angelo created a mess for himself when he said late in the 2001 season that he and the Bears would be working to extend the contract of Dick Jauron. While that may have been a strategy to make any subsequent impasse appear to be on Jauron, it also committed to the Bears to a course that became distasteful for them after the Bears proceeded to lose in the divisional playoff round following a bye week.

The indication now is that the Bears will wait at least until after the playoffs before moving, or not, on Smith.

The one thing weve done a pretty job of and I know its clich-ish but clichs are there for a reason we have really focused on each and every week, Angelo said. I think thats critical in football. Weve really stayed that course and we will continue to stay that course. When the seasons over, and hopefully thats not going to be for a while, then we will address all those things.

We always do what you need to do to take care of your business and Im going to leave it at that. Right now our focus is on this upcoming game and finishing the job.

Lovie performance appraisal

Smith in all likelihood was gone if the Bears had not reached this postseason or at least turned in a playoff-grade record where it was no fault of their own that they did not reach the playoffs.

But along with the 11-5 record, Smith restored something important for the organization.

In our business, its all about credibility and I felt we lost some credibility, Angelo said. We did. It just goes with the territory. We werent getting the job done.

But in terms of how I felt about Lovie, how I feel about the staff, Ive always felt good about that. But the bottom line is the bottom line. Youve got to win football games; youve got to win your division. That s what creates credibility. Its not personality. Its not how I feel about anybody. That is the bottom line. And thats how credibility is. Its not a testament to your character, its a testament to your wins and youve got to win football games and we all understand that.

What about you, Jerry?

At least one report has circulated that Angelo himself would step down from his post after this season, particularly if the finish comes with a Super Bowl ring. Not so.

I dont know why thats important to anybody, Angelo said. Ive heard it; its no big deal. The only one thats happy to hear that is my wife. But thats not going to happen. Im very fortunate to be here and as long as Im blessed with health, Ill continue to do what I love and thats being part of football.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.