SportsTalk Live Podcast: How many wins will it take for John Fox and Ryan Pace to keep their jobs?

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How many wins will it take for John Fox and Ryan Pace to keep their jobs?

On the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan is joined by David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly) to react to the Bears' year-end press conference. 

The panel debates how many wins it will take for John Fox and Ryan Pace to keep their jobs. Plus, they discuss George McCaskey's unwillingness to sell the team. 

Finally, one report says the that the Bulls are shopping Jimmy Butler. The guys break down the Bulls' options. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

CSN goes 1-on-1 with Bears chairman George McCaskey: 'Keep the faith, go Bears and go Giants'

CSN goes 1-on-1 with Bears chairman George McCaskey: 'Keep the faith, go Bears and go Giants'

When I asked George McCaskey in wrapping up a sitdown interview Wednesday if he had one final message for Bears fans, the chairman responded: “Keep the faith. Go Bears. And go Giants.”

Well, naturally there’s nothing unusual about rooting for whomever is playing the Packers. But before removing his microphone, McCaskey drew a comparison about keeping patient, as he and management have decided to do with Ryan Pace and John Fox, despite winning half as many games in year two of this regime compared to its first season.

“When they were 4-6, someone in the media said they need to fire somebody just to fire somebody. And they didn’t,” McCaskey told us. “They believed in their people. They stayed the course. The quarterback talked about running the table, but they approached each game as a must-win situation and put themselves in a good situation. I tip my cap to them.”

[MORE: CSN goes 1-on-1 with Bears GM Ryan Pace]

Laying the groundwork in hopes of sustained success is why the Packers have controlled the division since the early 90s. They’re already there, a well-run machine, with the help of a second straight great starting quarterback. That’s what McCaskey is expecting from Pace and Fox, even if the Phil Emery-Marc Trestman duo won four more games over their two seasons together before being fired two years ago.

“I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by comparing regimes. We’re in the here-and-now. We’re assessing Ryan and John and their performance. We haven’t seen the results that anyone has wanted, and that’s disappointing, but we’re excited about the future.”

As his mother Virginia McCaskey turns 94-years-old on Thursday, George had to gather his composure for a moment in front of a group of reporters he’d earlier taken questions from. In a perfect world, he’d love nothing more than to have his mom accept the Lombardi Trophy one more time, if time and a successful rebuilding of the roster allows.

“People are surprised when I tell them mom goes to every game, home and away. And the players make way for her as she wheels herself up the stairs to the plane,” said McCaskey. “They want to win for her. But it can’t be just about one person. They want to win for each other, and they want to win for this great city and their great fans.”

As for the general manager he hired two years ago, he likes how Pace hasn’t let a disappointing, step-back season deter the vision with patience even the chairman would find hard to muster.

“He’s a steadying influence. I like the type of players he’s acquiring. Now we just need more “better” players.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

In his group Q-&-A with the media Wednesday, McCaskey shared the mostly positive face-to-face feedback he gets from the fans, but was challenged about what’s believed to be a growing tune-out factor, anger, even apathy. But in following up with him, McCaskey isn’t naive enough to think it doesn’t exist among some diehards after his team missed the playoffs for a ninth time in ten years since Super Bowl XLI.

“We understand that. It’s not to say that everybody is happy in the stands. That’s certainly not the case. We understand that people are disappointed in their Bears. The way I can best describe it is, Bears fans’ relationship with the team ... like when a loved one disappoints you, the disappointment is more profound because you expect so much. We understand that we’ve fallen short of their expectations. We’ve fallen short of our expectations. Bears fans deserve a winner.

“In some cases, we may have to win people back. But most of the people I’ve been talking to have been saying, `Hang in there. We know you’re on the right track. We know you have the right plan, and we know you’ve got the right people.’”

Once more, quarterback decision is offseason priority for Bears

Once more, quarterback decision is offseason priority for Bears

An offseason without a Bears quarterback issue/controversy/move would be news. And the 2017 offseason is already not without a quarterback…situation.

The central figure in the situation is, as it has been for most of the past eight offseasons, Jay Cutler. But this time, as was the case when Josh McCown was the alternative after 2013, Cutler is far from the Bears’ only option, and it was made abundantly clear that the quarterback position is in perhaps its greatest state of flux since the Brian Griese-Rex Grossman-Kyle Orton maelstrom in the Time Before Cutler.

It was also abundantly clear that, unlike last year and the year before, there has been no “Jay is our quarterback” decision.

“In my mind, there is no more important position than the quarterback,” GM Ryan Pace said on Wednesday. “It is a critical, critical position. And I know and I recognize, that the decision that we make on that quarterback is going to be significant for all of us for the direction that this organization is going to head.”

Pace said he had met with more than two dozen players since Sunday, including Cutler, who is around Halas Hall rehabbing an injured shoulder. Their conversation involved letting Cutler know that when a decision is made on his future, he and his agent would be informed.

Which did not sound like something normally said to a player where the decision is to keep them.

“Once we make a decision as an organization whatever it is, you know he'll be the first to know and his agent, Bus Cook, will be the first to know and I made him that promise,” Pace said. “Those decisions haven't been completely finalized yet, but when they are you know he'll know immediately.”

But if the question is, do the Bears move forward with Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, a drafted rookie, a different free agent or a trade acquisition, the answer is…yes.

“There's a lot of things we value in that position,” Pace said. “You know this year it was about consistency and availability. You know we played with so many different quarterbacks it was hard to find continuity. But I think we're looking for consistency and productivity from that position and I think we'll find it this offseason.

“I think everything's on the table right now. It's free agency, it's trade, it's draft, it's current players on our team. Everything's on the table, and we've got to analyze all that and the next two months are going to be huge for that. It's critical that we get that right.”

If the decision is between Cutler and Hoyer, money is likely, and rightly, to be a consideration.

Using passer rating for apples-to-apples purposes, Cutler is a career 85.7-rating passer with a 3.3 interception percentage. Hoyer is an 84.8 passer but with a 2.2 interception percentage, a career pick rate equal to Cutler’s best single-season rate. Both are roughly .500 as starters over their careers.

But Cutler is due potentially $15 million this season; Hoyer is unrestricted after playing under a one-year deal for $2 million. Getting the same production for a fraction of the cost makes simple sense.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Whatever the decision, whether Cutler, Hoyer or an outside option or two, management is leaving the call to the football people.

“I’ve always been a fan of Jay Cutler,” said Chairman George McCaskey, who had to have been one to agree to the $126-million contract given to Cutler by former GM Phil Emery. “I love him as a player. I love him off the field. I think he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does off the field.

“As far as the football evaluation, that’s up to Ryan and John [Fox].”