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.

Bullard a prime example of how, why and where Bears can improve

Bullard a prime example of how, why and where Bears can improve

This Bears rebuild has taken longer than expected. Ideally, in year three of a GM/head coach tandem, they should be contending for the playoffs. 

That’s not to say the 2017 Bears can’t. It’s just unlikely. They don’t have enough players opponents have to gameplan for. They don’t have the depth to overcome key injuries. When franchises get on a winning roll, it’s when they have enough of those studs on both sides of the ball, and have the depth to avoid as many emergencies as possible. And that happens when second- and third-year players make a jump in their play.

Offensively, we saw an impressive jump by Cam Meredith, but another left leg injury still have us wondering exactly what Kevin White is, and how good he can be. Jeremy Langford’s growth was stunted by his ankle injury. Second-year center Hroniss Grasu missed the entire year. On the defensive side, we never got to see if Kyle Fuller could’ve proven his first-round status in his third year. Safety Adrian Amos started another full season, but is now in a battle to do the same a third straight year. We can see star qualities in Eddie Goldman, but how much of a difference-maker can he be by remaining on the field? We’ll learn the same about Leonard Floyd if he can do that this fall. And there are a handful of other second-year players we’ll be watching, from Deon Bush to Deiondre Hall to Cre’Von LeBlanc. There’s also 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard, who learned what it took to become a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL.

“It was okay. I got about 17 snaps a game,” Bullard said of his rookie season during last month’s minicamp. “That’s not what I wanted coming in. But it is what is. I want to move on to the next year and hopefully be able to help this team in a big way.”

Rookie seasons for every player lay the groundwork. How high their ceiling goes starts to get established in year two, between the player’s effort, and getting coached-up correctly.

“They asked me to gain a few pounds. I was like 282 last year, and right now I’m at 296, so hopefully that helps me, said Bullard. “I’m just trying to make all this solid and not lose my burst that got me here. So I’m looking forward to it. I got a year under my belt now, I know what they expect. I’m gonna be ready.”

Part of Bullard taking things upon himself was hooking up with a former defensive end, from the same alma mater, who happens to be fourth in franchise history in sacks (albeit in a 4-3 scheme): CSN’s very own Bears analyst, Alex Brown.

“We saw each other at the Florida spring game and we kind of linked up and put in some work at his facility down the road,” Bullard explained. “We’ve met up quite a few times, just working on little things. He’s just trying to give me a better understanding of the game, and some of the veteran things he knows that I want to incorporate into my game.”

So what kind of a teacher is Alex?

“He’s alright. I make him him jump in there. I tell him he’s not that old.”

And while Pace didn’t make the big splash in free agency as he tries to match up salary with his grades for players, Bullard has to prove he’s now better than last year’s starter, Mitch Unrein, as well as a hungry fellow former Gator, Jaye Howard, who was brought in on a “prove it” one-year deal after being cut just before the draft by Kansas City.

“As far as him being a Gator, it’s exciting. But it’s a competition. He’s gonna come in and try to win the starting job, and I’m gonna do the same. It’s just gonna have to be a friendly competition when training camp comes, and may the best man win.”

Let this, and many other Bourbonnais battles, begin.

Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman saved a man's life at an airport

Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman saved a man's life at an airport

Jerrell Freeman played hero at an Austin airport on Sunday.

The Bears linebacker was grabbing a bite to eat before his flight to head back to Chicago for training camp when he noticed a man choking.

Freeman said an older lady tried to perform the Heimlich maneuver on the man but didn't have enough strength. That's when Freeman stepped in, and after a couple attempts, saved his life.

“I grabbed him and tried to squeeze the life out of him,” Freeman told the Chicago Tribune. “You’ve got to push in and up. So I did that and he started throwing up what he was choking on. I asked him if he was all right and he shook his head like ‘No!’

“I grabbed him again and hit him again with it. And when I put him down the second time, his eyes got big. He was like, ‘Oh, my god! I think you just saved my life, man!’ It was crazy.”

Freeman tweeted a picture after it happened:

Freeman, 31, said he had never done the Heimlich maneuver before, but his mom is a nurse and had talked to him about it. He just did what he heard, and thankfully it worked.