Mullin: Bears should be proud of their books

Mullin: Bears should be proud of their books

Saturday, March 26, 2011Posted: 11:30 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears have operated successfully for a long, long time, as long in fact as theres been an NFL and even a little before that. And if itll help advance the cause of an agreement between league owners and players, theyre willing to show those needing to know.

And this could be part of a building movement that breaks the stalemate that is threatening at least the NFL offseason, if not more.

Bears President Ted Phillips has aligned the Bears with the Dallas Cowboys (and the already publicly owned Green Bay Packers, plus the Denver Broncos potentially) as teams open to the idea of open books, something demanded by the players side as long as owners are asking for a 1 billion giveback to help teams with operating expenses.

If the league feels to get a deal done, they need to release financials, were on board, Phillips told the Chicago Sun-Times. Im actually proud of how we operate our club. We think we do a good job, revenue-wise and expense-wise.

The Bears have. Without violating confidences here, the Bears have been aware of the looming labor difficulties for a matter of years and they were managing expenses with an eye toward the future. So it was no surprise at all that the Phillips and the Bears were out front with the fact that they were not anticipating layoffs, pay cuts or some of the carnage that has nicked some teams.

And whats too often glossed over in the interest of keeping a good clich running, the Bears have done all of this without coming anywhere close to their Misers of the Midway misnomer. The Bears have spent money, not always on the right players or even coaches at times, but they have spent it.

Consider: Besides doing a new Lovie Smith contract with years in excess of 5 million, the Bears also have coordinators (Rod Marinelli, Mike Martz) in the 1 million range plus an offensive line coach (Mike Tice) in the upper echelon of his position pay grade.

More to the on-field point, in recent years they have done market or above deals with Lance Briggs, Jay Cutler, Tommie Harris, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher, some as extensions, like Smith. Muhsin Muhammad, John Tait.

The list of money deals goes on but you get the point. Phillips was the finance man under Michael McCaskey before succeeding him as president in 1999 (the year the Bears hosed down Phillip Daniels and Thomas Smith with signing mega-deals). The contracts done by GM Jerry Angelo and finance man Cliff Stein are known throughout the league as real deals, meaning ones without inflated final years that no one will ever see and force players to be cut.

Its easy to make jokes about the Bears and their money. Those jokes are old and years out of date. And no one should be laughing, least of all some of the other owners who are not remotely as effective financially as the Bears. As the McCaskeys have accurately stated over the years, their only business is football and the Chicago Bears. Theyre not Daniel Snyder (thankfully), nor have they ever aspired to be.

They can be and should be proud of those books.

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.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

There's a sense of irony and, to a certain degree, concern about what changes the Bears' coaching staff has undergone.

Think of the best of Ryan Pace's 2016 rookie class: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard. They were brought along under the position group tutelage of outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, offensive line coach Dave Magazu and running backs coach Stan Drayton. The latter was the first to depart, shortly after the season ended, to return to the collegiate ranks on Texas' new staff.

He's been replaced with former 49ers and Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins (also serving as that position coach in Detroit, Buffalo, Arizona and Kansas City). Howard certainly adapted to the NFL game well, more than anyone expected, as the NFL's second-leading rusher. One would think Drayton played a part in that.

Longtime John Fox assistant Magazu was also let go after the season despite the impressive move of second-round pick Whitehair to center the week of the season opener after Josh Sitton was signed following his release by Green Bay. Whitehair was sold as a "quick study" following his selection out of Kansas State, where he was a four-year starter at three different positions (but not center).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Like Howard, he wound up making the All-Rookie team, but whether he remains in the middle of the line or not, he'll be getting his orders now from Jeremiah Washburn.

Rounding out the trio of All-Rookie selections was Floyd, who was brought along by Hurtt. He impressed Fox enough to be kept around from Marc Trestman's staff, and moved from defensive line to outside linebackers.

That's where he assisted Willie Young in morphing to a foreign role, yet still managing 14 sacks over the last two seasons. The Bears have yet to name a replacement for Hurtt, who's joined the Seahawks in taking over one of their strengths in recent years, the defensive line.

These three were already good, and the jewels of last year's draft. But if they're to grow and ascend into impact contributors if and when this team becomes a regular playoff contender, it'll come from new faces, new voices in their respective classrooms and position groups.