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Bears' failure starts much higher than coordinators
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/5/2010 4:01 PM | Updated: 1/5/2010 6:04 PM

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So here's how it works.

Jerry Angelo awakes one day after a protracted slumber and recognizes a need to fire the head coach, who has been asleep at the wheel for most of his six years here.

But then the GM realizes that if he goes to Bears president Ted Phillips and tells him the plan, Phillips would have to explain to ownership why the head coach should depart and take with him $11 million of McCaskey money.

At that point ownership would ask Phillips what Angelo has done for them lately, or better yet, what he has ever done for them.

Then, Phillips would have to come up with a reason to keep the GM, and failing that, any reason for the McCaskeys to keep Phillips.

So instead of meaningful and lasting change, it becomes a transparent and laughable game of C.Y.A., and we're not talking Chicago Young Americans here.

Phillips tells Angelo he better keep the head coach, the GM tells the head coach he can stay but must make cosmetic changes on his staff, and the head coach rubber stamps it.

Now that's loyalty, huh?

It's a word thrown around quite a bit in the NFL, and often by Smith and Angelo, but when it comes down to protecting thyself, it's actually more punch line than bottom line.

So the Three Stooges keep their jobs, as we suspected they would when there was much screaming to the contrary a month ago, and the scapegoats are offensive coordinator Ron Turner and five more offensive assistants, most notably QB coach Pep Hamilton and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.

Don't mistake this for a defense of Turner, because I never thought much of his system or his conservative playcalling.

But as bad as he was, Jay Cutler was worse than Turner this year, making terrible decisions and losing several games entirely because of his inability to target the correct jersey.

He also resisted, according to a Bears source, attempts by people like Turner and Hamilton to communicate with Cutler, making their jobs nearly impossible.

So Cutler fired Turner a few weeks ago when he publicly refused to back him or even acknowledge Turner's name, and it's up there with the most unprofessional and immature moments a player can contrive.

Cutler left the organization no choice but to remove these guys. Of course, none of it will matter if Cutler wins more football games than he loses next year, but that's something he's yet to find a way to do.

If he doesn't figure something out he'll get a lot more coaches fired before he's done collecting checks.

The more immediate problem is that Cutler will have four offensive coordinators in four years if the OC brought in for 2010 is washed out with the rest of the slop a year from now.

That's not a wonderful recipe for success considering Cutler's moody and seemingly unstable dimensions.

But just as Turner was no worse than Cutler, Cutler was no worse than Smith, who failed as the defensive coordinator this season.

So along comes another cosmetic and expected change, with Smith handing the defensive play calling to someone else. But whoever it is will still be calling Smith's system with Angelo's players.

That brings us back to the GM, who built a terrible offensive line and a bad roster, and that's not on Smith, and certainly not on Hiestand.

And just as Cutler was no worse than Smith, the head coach was no worse than the GM, whose most successful program thus far was undermining Dick Jauron to the point of making certain he could fire a coach he inherited and never wanted.

And just as Smith has been no worse than Angelo, the GM hasn't been any worse at his job than Phillips has been at his.

Of course, Phillips had no football experience and only got the job because ownership needed someone with a last name other than McCaskey to get them a new stadium.

And so here we are, back at the top again where we always seem to be, remembering an owner in Mike McCaskey who possessed no football knowledge but tried to play team president anyway.

When that didn't work, the job of team president went to a man with no experience, Phillips, who handed the GM job to a novice, Angelo, who gave the coaching job to a beginner, Smith, who failed at coaching bad players.

That's the real story.

Not Ron Turner or Pep Hamilton or Harry Hiestand. It's not even Jay Cutler, Lovie Smith or Jerry Angelo.

It's Ted Phillips, who kept a straight face Tuesday while patiently sharing with us his extensive football knowledge, and telling us how you win football games and build a winning team.

This is the story of a failed franchise that needs one of the sane McCaskeys - and there are a few, like Brian, by the way - to grab control back from Phillips, from Mike and Virginia McCaskey, and begin fixing this mess by putting in place a real football man at the top of the food chain.

That's the answer.

That, or sell the team.